Updated: Oct 1, 2019
Bringing home a new pet for your family is a big decision. And if it’s a rescue animal, there’s more than just the adoption process. You need to decide what type of animal will best fit in your family and you have to help your new pet adjust as you connect. Take things slowly and give your new animal time to get comfortable, remembering that you have plenty of opportunities for play once you’ve built a bond with your new family member.
Be patient and find the right match.
There are many options when it comes to finding a pet for your family, but many look to dogs as a good first companion. Canines of all types are available via rescue shelters, and with a bit of searching, you can find the perfect animal for your family. Before you start your search, consider what type of animal will work best.
Is your family looking for a specific breed or age of pet? Are you open to a senior or disabled rescue animal? How much time do you have to commit? For example, puppies are adorable, but they need many hours of training. Think about your family's lifestyle and find an animal that will fit in well, depending on whether you’re an active family or more of the homebody types.
Move forward slowly to find the right match.
Take the time to find a quality shelter or rescue organization. One Green Planet recommends looking at the group’s website adoption pages to see how they describe their animals. Look for a place dedicated to finding the right family for its animals, and check into their “return” policy, many require you return the pet to them if the match doesn't work out.
Don't rush into choosing a pet. Adding an animal to your family is a years-long commitment, and you want to find the right fit. When you’re adopting a rescue animal, know that you may not get much background information on them. You also need to recognize that the animal will likely be nervous and anxious for the first seven to ten days it’s with you, so being patient is essential.
Be understanding during the adjustment period.
Expect to see some negative behaviors as your pet adjusts. They will be under a great deal of stress, and they may avoid interaction, try to escape, have a decreased appetite, or have some accidents in the house. Some animals will seemingly do fine for the first few days, giving you an easy honeymoon period, with anxious behaviors kicking in a few days later.
Keep expectations and demands low at first, allowing time to adjust. Keep the animal sequestered to a controllable area of the home, perhaps in a kennel or crate, and form a consistent routine with toileting, eating, and exercise. As the animal adjusts, allow them to explore the house, and take things slowly when introducing them to other animals.
Focus on building a solid, trusting bond.
Reachout Rescue suggests starting an obedience class with your dog about two weeks after bringing them home. Focus on bonding by keeping them near you and spending quality time taking walks or playing ball. Dog walking is a healthy activity for both of you, but watch for signs of distress in those early days. If they get anxious, recognize their distress and take them back home right away.
Don’t forget to make a point to keep your new pet occupied and active.
If you have a busy lifestyle that keeps you away during the week, consider having a reliable pet sitter come in to check on your new pet and make sure it’s getting the attention and exercise it needs.
Animals make great additions to the family, but it’s crucial that you take things slowly. Think about what type of animal will work best for you and be patient with undesirable behaviors as they join your family.
At the beginning, keep their new world small and focus on building trust as they adjust. The relationship between a pet and its owners will become strong with some understanding in the initial days of the relationship, leading to years of loving companionship.