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After the Adoption:

What to Expect When Your New Friend Comes Home

(part 1 of 3)

Your New Dog's First Days

see also: our "First Things First" supplement

Be prepared to spend from $50 to $250 in upfront costs. Collar, ID tag and license, leash, bowls, food (20 lbs.), toys, bed, etc. For a medium-size dog (30 to 50 lbs.), expect to spend approximately $50/month on premium food (and toys), or $600/year including annual physical and shots. Cocker spaniels also need grooming every 8 weeks, at a cost of about $50 per visit. If you travel, kennel or pet sitting costs run approximately $150-$250/week, depending on the dog's weight.

dog.gifTake time off -- 48 hours at least, one week even better
This is important bonding time when your new dog is feeling most stressed and vulnerable in its new environment. Keep household activities to a minimum while your new dog adjusts. It took Checkmate three days to stop worrying that he had been abandoned again, and a week in the kennel crate because he was trying to dig his way out the door every time the family members left.

dog.gifGive your dog a place of its own
Create a safe haven for your new dog with a bed or blanket tucked away in a corner of his/her choosing. Some dogs can appreciate a cage/kennel with the door open that can become a type of hide-away or "den", but Buddy and Checkmate preferred to select their own corners of the living room.

dog.gifA good bath
Your dog will really shine after a good bath and rub down. Great for bonding and contributes greatly to new dog huggability. Don't forget the grooming brush! That's the best type of bonding! See the related page with grooming tips.

dog.gifLack of appetite
It is not uncommon for your new dog to lack an appetite for a period of 1-2 days. If, after the second day, if your dog still has not eaten, see your vet.

If known, try to use the same brand of food the dog has been accustomed to at the Rescue or previous situation. This will reduce stomach upsets. If you plan to change brands of dog food, do it gradually, mixing the old and new brands together, gradually tapering the old stuff off over the course of about a week.

dog.gifIntroduction to other pets
Other Dog(s). Try introducing dogs in a neutral territory, a park, a parking lot, etc. It will take a few weeks to months, depending on individual personalities, for the dogs to work out a new pack order (establishing alpha, i.e. who's dominant). Be patient, it may take 6 months for your first dog and your new dog to bond and truly enjoy each other's company. If your first dog is a truly dominate (alpha) personality, allow the newcomer to enter your home first, ahead of the alpha dog. This demonstrates to the alpha that (s)he will not always be leading.

Watch your new dog learn from your first dog, it's amazing. Having a second dog can be a wonderful experience for both dogs and humans alike.

Cat(s). Two words sum up the best approach to introducing your new dog to a family cat: slow and careful. Be sure you're there to make the first introduction in person, and plan on supervising the subsequent get-togethers for at least the first week. You'll need to show the dog that the cat is important to you. Firmly, but gently, tell your dog "no" at the first signs of chasing or intimidating the cat. Expect to reinforce this for at least a few months. Have separate feeding areas, preferably out of sight of each other (some dogs just love cat food!). Oftentimes shelter dogs turn out to have grown up with cats -- and your new dog may be one of them.

dog.gifMarking the house
Not uncommon, especially for unaltered males. Keep your eyes open. Take your dog outside frequently to relieve itself. Watch for repeat offenses in the same spot. Pet stores sell products that remove odors and discourage the animals from doing their business in undesirable locations. If your new dog does mark the house, it is likely only temporary. This shouldn't be confused with a need for housebreaking.

dog.gifRunning off/Setting boundaries
New dogs have not established loyalties or attachments to you or your home. They might even be [geographically] confused. It could take weeks to months for him/her to learn the new turf. It's best to keep your new dog on a lead or in a fenced yard when it's outside. It's not fun to land back in Rescue again.

dog.gifCar sickness/traveling
If your new dog gets carsick easily, try ginger pills, Benadryl or Dramamine (ok for larger dogs) to settle its stomach. Over time, take your new dog for short car rides, with plenty of fresh air. It shouldn't take too long, less than a dozen trips, to "fun" places (like the park) to help a dog overcome his fear of cars. It only took Checkmate a week!


Wait! There's more!

jump to other "what to expect" links:

First Things First | Your Dog's 1st Few Weeks | Patience Yields Rewards | Grooming Your Cocker

This page updated 11/4/07 Get your own FREE Website at