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Helping a New Pet Adjust to a New Life

We saw a helpful post the other day from Sherwood Shelter about the importance of allowing a newly adopted pet to have time to adjust to their new home and we thought we’d add on to that with some additional tips! After all, not allowing a new pet the time and space they need to decompress after leaving a shelter is one of the biggest reasons they are returned shortly after adoption. 

Remember, they have no idea what’s going on when they’re in the shelter or when they leave. Also, a shelter can be a stressful environment even without the added confusion about where am I and what’s going on? It’s usually noisy and there are SO MANY SMELLS. Dog noses are like, a bajillion times more sensitive than ours and they use them to assess their environment. Imagine all the signals they must be getting in a shelter with 200 other animals, with new ones coming in by the dozen every day. Overwhelming, right? So it’s really crucial that you give them the time and space they need to just chill out after leaving the shelter. They’ll come around on their own time. Here are some tips for helping them do that: •On appetite specifically : One thing we hear a lot from new parents in the first few days is concern about their new baby not eating. Don’t panic! As long as they seem to be going to the bathroom okay, (a little... looseness... may be observed with a new diet and just nervousness), it’s probably just because they’re nervous in a new environment. This is actually pretty common, and they’ll eat when they’re hungry. If you want to, you can try mixing in some wet food or drizzling a little bacon grease (let it cool before serving!) on their food. They cannot resist the bacon grease. If you are worried, consult your vet or the shelter/rescue they came from. (This is not medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice. Always consult your veterinarian if you have concerns about your pet’s health.) And here’s an article with tips for introducing a new foster dog to resident dogs which can also be applied to adopters. It was written by someone who specifically fosters reactive dogs so not everyone will require as much time in each phase, but it never hurts to be overly cautious. You want that first introduction to go well! We always recommend that at the very least, you “crate and rotate” for the first day and allow them to just see and smell each other. Even if they met at the shelter to see if they’d get along! Being on home turf is a lot different, whereas the shelter was neutral territory. Set your new pet up for success. 

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