Joanne Rice is a Canine Behavioral Therapist and Master Trainer with Bark Busters Home Dog Training. She agreed to chronicle her dog adoption experience as she and her husband adopt a new dog into their family. In this installment, she and her husband begin to get their house ready to bring their new pup home.
It’s almost time to meet Sunshine! Like many rescues, we don’t know much about her history, so there is a lot to discover. Canine Castaways knows that she was confiscated from a home with three other dogs and brought into the county shelter; they estimated she is about a year old. She hadn’t been spayed, so she just had the procedure and has been recovering at the vet, but beyond that, nothing – she was never in a foster home, so we don’t know if she is housetrained, has walked on a leash, has any behavioral issues, or even what her original name was.
No matter how much (or little) we know about our adoptee, experience has taught us that we need to create a confinement and management plan for when we bring her home. No new dog should be allowed to have full access to the house, nor constant interaction with other pets. We need time to observe and assess Sunshine – plus, everyone will need an occasional break from each other!
Gates, crates, and exercise pens are essential tools at home, at least for the first few weeks. This particular one is an Iris Pet Playpen. I wholeheartedly recommend it to my clients for rescues and new puppies:
It’s very versatile – I like that it can be configured in various sizes and taken apart so sections can be used individually. We’ve had one since Rizzo was a puppy, and it, along with the other tools, was absolutely vital to housetraining.
In our case, we also had to consider our fence outside. Sunshine weighs about 11 pounds – small enough to potentially fit through the slats of the back fence! Until we can make it to Home Depot, we installed some netting we happened to have at home as a temporary solution.
With the yard secure, we can make sure we have the rest of our checklist on hand:
We purchased a small bed for inside the crate, and a comfy blanket for the pen.
Since Sunshine is half of Rizzo’s size, we know we need some smaller toys. Kongs and other food-based toys are some of my favorites because they help keep the dog busy, provide mental stimulation, and can slow down fast eaters.
Rizzo loves Bark Busters’ Game Changer toy, but Sunshine may be too small to flip it around; we’ll see if it works for her. I never use old clothing or shoes as toys because dogs can’t differentiate between old and newly bought items. I recommend doing the same to avoid unwelcome disasters!
I’m hoping the rescue will give us a few-day supply of the food they are feeding her. That way, we can gradually transition Sunshine to her new food, which helps avoid gastro issues. I rely on dogfoodadvisor.com when researching dog food and treats, which is an independent organization that rates pet food and treats. You can even sign-up to receive recalls when they happen.
An absolute must-have! Luckily, as a dog trainer, I own plenty of these. Click here to see the leashes Bark Busters recommends.
Since we don’t know if Sunshine is house trained, accidents are a possibility. We want to be ready with a product that will work to eliminate any stains or odors on hard surfaces and carpet – Eco 88 is my go-to.
One final check of the house to remove potential hazards. We want to ensure all small dangers, like power cords are put away, click here for more tips. Another example which is often overlooked by new dog owners are sliding glass doors (or any glass or screen at or below your dog’s height). To ensure Sunshine doesn’t run into the sliding glass doors when they are clean and closed, we stuck some decals at her vision level. Painters’ tape is also a useful temporary visual until your dog gets used to new home boundaries.
I think we are ready to meet Sunshine! The whole family (including Rizzo) is excited for the meet and greet. Since we are previous adopters and all paperwork is in order, the rescue said we could take Sunshine home with us if everything works out.
Fingers crossed… let’s see what happens!
Read our entire Adoption Diary here!