If you’ve been keeping up with my socials you will know that Will (my boyfriend) and I recently adopted a dog. How exciting! It’s been an absolutely amazing experience, but can be quite daunting as well. I thought I’d write up a bit on how you can prepare your house for adoption day. I am by no means a dog trainer and have no official knowledge at all, these are just thoughts from reading a lot about dog adoption and my personal experience.
*Disclosure: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Getting the house ready for adoption day was the easiest bit of the adoption for me. Leaving Monty behind in the shelter after the visits (we had 4 or 5) was so difficult! I was counting down the days until I could actually take him home! Although Monty is 4,5 years old and definitely not a puppy anymore, we were expecting him to be quite good in the house in terms of house training, chewing shoes and wires etc. If you do adopt a puppy I would definitely recommend hiding your wires properly and putting shoes and other loose items away.
Before you take your dog home, set some basic rules with your family/house members. Where will the dog sleep? Will he be allowed upstairs and in the bedroom? If you have a garden, is this safe and can he go off the lead in here? With your shelter you can set up a schedule for feeding times. Talk to your family about who does the feeding. If you are alternating the feeds (for bonding reasons, fun, learning the kids responsibilities etc.), remember to make some sort of list so that everyone knows the dog has been fed. You can buy a magnetic ‘Did you Feed the Dog?’ board with pen to help you and your family members communicate.
How to prepare your house
Before it is adoption day you need to make sure you have your house ready for your dog. We made sure we had everything set up to allow Monty to come into a dog friendly home. You might want to leave some small dog treats randomly scattered on the floor so he instantly thinks ‘yay! This is a great place!’
If your dog is only allowed in specific rooms (lounge, kitchen) I’d suggest you close the other doors before you let the dog in. Because we wanted to train Monty to sit down camly before the door to the house opens, we started this straight away. Of course adoption day is stressful enough for both you and the dog, so if your dog doesn’t know this command yet I wouldn’t try it at this time. In the long run it might be nice to do this as it disencourages him from running into the house. We’ve had Monty for a couple weeks now and as soon as he gets to the door he sits down without us asking him to – success!
When you open the door to enter your house for the first time, keep your dog on the lead. Give him a tour around the house in a calm manner. While he is on the lead, you could open the doors to the rooms where he is not allowed and take him for a quiet walk around. This is just for him to know what’s behind those closed doors! Once he’s had a little sniff, take him out and close the door again. Show him to his water and food bowl and when you feel like you are ready, take him off the lead. We kept Monty’s harness on for a little while: this is to show Monty that wearing a harness doesn’t always mean it is ‘walkies’ time. Give your dog some time to settle into your house, let him have a sniff in the corners and a walk around, but keep a close eye in case of any accidents.
Things to buy
This is completely up to you. Crate training can be a wonderful thing for so many reasons! But if you don’t want them in a crate or are adopting a dog with a fear of crates, it might not be the best idea. We did get a crate for Monty as I think it’s a great safe space for him, whether it is nap time, sleep time or when he is home alone.
In order to encourage him from going into his crate, I gently introduced him to this after the first moments in his new home. Make his crate a cosy place, with some soft bedding, treats and a toy. I scattered some small treats around the crate and this really encouraged him to go in and explore. Don’t close the door straight away! This will probably deter him from going into the crate again. Closing the door and leaving your dog on his own in the crate takes a lot of practice.
! When you leave your dog wittout supervision, make sure to only leave him with safe bedding, treats and toys.
Bowls and food
I mean, this is pretty basic. Your dog will need to be fed proably twice or three times a day. What food you are getting him is up to you, but I’d suggest getting a recommendation from the shelter you are adopting your dog from. Often ‘cheap’ food like own shop brand dog food is not very good for dogs (and linked to behavioural problems with dogs too!).
Harness and lead
It is really important your dog has a good harness and lead. This is for you and your dogs’ safety and comfort, but also encourages proper walking. On the shelters’ recommendation we got a Perfect Fit Harness for Monty. This comes in three separate parts and allows every part to fit him properly where it needs to. The staff at the shelter measured Monty for us and fitted him with a suitable size harness. We’ve found it helps a great deal when we’re out for walks! Monty is a nervous little boy and pulls a lot on walks. The Perfect Fit Harness stops him from pulling as much and when he does pull he doesn’t get hurt.
In terms of lead, this is mostly just personal preference. For dog walking training I’d suggest getting a solid lead that is not very long (2 metres or so). This is so you can keep control of your dog. Most dog trainers don’t recommend you using a retractable dog lead. This can hurt both you and your dog because it can pull back suddenly when it gets to the end of the lead. It can even cause it to snap and break! Also, if you are training your dog to walk on the lead without pulling, a retractable lead does the complete opposite as there is constant tension. For Monty we have two leads:
- a short one for daily walking
- a long 10 metre (non-retractable) lead that we use for recall training and countryside walking in open fields
! Remember that in the UK your dog legally needs to be microchipped ánd have an ID tag with your name and address on it (whilst you’re engraving one, put your phone number on it too). Don’t put your dogs name on the tag, as this makes it easier for people to steal your dog.
Oh, yes. Especially when your dog is settling in you will need a lot of treats. As mentioned earlier, we scattered them around the house and his crate.
It might take a while for you to find out which treats get your dog excited, so don’t buy too many treats in bulk at first! Chewy treats are great for your dogs’ teeth and to keep him occupied for a while. Small treats are ideal for training sessions. With recall training and walks where your dog is off the lead, I’d suggest bringing some of his favourite treats. Small chunks of cheese and sausages are Monty’s favourite: he comes back for these every time!
Puppy pads and poo bags
The not-so glamorous things to buy for your dogs. If you are adopting an older dog, you might not need any puppy pads. But because they are coming into a new environment and probably have a lot of stress built up, it might be worth putting a few down by the doors and in corners. In terms of poop bags, it is essential that you clean up after your dog! Not only is it horrible for other people, it can be dangerous for other animals in the area because of the bacteria. You can get scented poo bags (although I find these actually make the smell worse) and biodegrable ones.
These are the absolute basics of what you need before adoption day. There are other items, like a portable dog bowl, car travel items, toys, dog shampoo etc.
What suggestions do you have for those who are adopting a dog?
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Been a bit quiet on the socials today but for a good reason! Finally we got to take our little Monty home from the @cheltenhamanimalshelter 🧡 they looked after him incredibly well, but feeling very happy he’s in a warm place where he is só loved by us, we’re a little family now 🧡🧡