How many times has that used car you purchased come with an owner’s manual? The odds are good that it’s missing when a question or problem arises.
Seldom does an adult dog from a municipal shelter or an area rescue group come accompanied with background data of behavioral and health issues, either. In other words, it’s what you see is what you get . . . at the time. You might be fortunate, however, to get a report card from a foster caretaker about the animal and issues that need addressing.
If you are, however, considering adopting an adult dog – rest assured they make great pets – read this handy 94-page owner’s manual first. It comes with no warranties but plenty of handy tips and caveats to allow you to navigate the challenging pathway of new ownership.
Both authors are certified Applied Animal Behaviorists and professional dog trainers who specialize in evaluating and treating serious dog behavioral problems. And both have experience bringing adolescent and older dogs into new homes, including their own.
Here they address the first day, settling in and establishing daily routines, getting to know each other, veterinary care, training and Behavior Problems 101.
Patience, they preach, needs to be your No. 1 priority in building a strong relationship with that new dog in your life. In some cases it can take as long as year – yes, that’s right – to fully integrate a poorly socialized or puppy-mill pooch into your household.
“You may be prepared to enter into a close and emotional relationship with your new dog the day you bring her home, and you probably have expectations of who she should be, but your adopted dog has no such mind set,” they say. “After all, you probably spent a long time thinking about adopting, while your new dog had no idea what to expect when you picked her up. Everything, including you, is new to her.
“ . . . No matter what their background, adult dogs are similar to adult people in that they often need time to form social relationships.”
In Behavior Problems 101, one area of focus is surprises dogs spring upon owners in new households. They note, “The fact is that behavior is ‘context dependent,’ meaning that all social animals behave differently in different environments. . . . So don’t waste energy fussing over how he behaved the day before you brought him home, spend it observing how he behaves now, and on what you can do to help him be his best self in the future.”
As the owner of rescue dogs for 30 years, I wish I had this practical guidebook on many occasions. While connecting powerfully to readers, it promotes self-confidence and a resilient can-do spirit that will serve you well through demanding and unpredictable moments of new pet ownership.