Bringing home a shelter pet?

Preparation and patience are key

Posted on Apr 05 2023 in Pets
Man with dog

National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day is April 30, so if you’ve researched the right type of animal for you and are ready to bring a pet home, now’s a perfect time. Even though a shelter animal may have had a rough start to life, many make wonderful family pets, and
some even go on to become service animals.

“Shelter animals are remarkable. We know this firsthand, because the dogs we train to become service dogs started as shelter dogs. Trained on over 30 skills, our program dogs show time and time again the amazing potential that shelter pets can have,” said Kelsey Burton, director of development at Medical Mutts Service Dogs Inc., a non-profit based in Indianapolis dedicated to training service dogs.

If you do decide to adopt, here are some tips to help make it easier for a shelter pet to acclimate to your home. Above all, try and be patient and allow your animal time to adjust to its “new normal.” 

  • Prior to the arrival of your pet, make sure you have a quiet space prepared for them that is away from all other animals. Keep your new arrival away from any other pets for at least the first 24 hours to give everyone time to adjust and decompress. 
  • If you are adopting a dog, have a collar with an identification tag ready with your name and contact number on it, and put it on the animal right away in case the dog escapes.
  • Be prepared for potty accidents. Even a pet that is considered housetrained might have accidents due to the stress of adjusting to new surroundings. 
  • Provide food and water for your new pet, but don’t be surprised if they refuse to eat for the first day or two.
  • Offer an enrichment activity. Your pet may not respond to it at first, but allowing them to experience new things, such as interactive toys or puzzle mats, can expand their world and help keep them entertained.