I recently welcomed a senior dog to my home. Sadie, a nine-year-old Labrador Retriever/German Shepherd Mix was surrendered by a family with a newborn that worried about how the dog would treat the little human.
Sadie cowered in the kennel at the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society shelter in Menands and stole my heart the minute I laid eyes on her.
I had done my homework ahead of time regarding how best to introduce her to my existing Clifton Park household consisting of cats, my grown daughter and a shy Chocolate Lab.
Some tips from the pet experts included the following advice:
- Before your dog actually arrives it’s best to figure out where he or she will be spending most of their time. Their first day will be stressful and confusing because he or she will be transitioning from a shelter or foster home to your house.
- Have a crate set up ahead of time if you plan to crate-train your new pup. Be sure to dog-proof his new space. For instance, tape loose electrical cords to baseboards, store household chemicals on high shelves, remove plants, rugs, and breakables, set up the crate, and install baby gates.
- Training your dog will start the first moment you have her/him. Create a vocabulary list everyone will use when giving your dog directions to prevent confusion and speed the learning process. Even senior dogs can use an obedience training refresher course from a reputable dog trainer such as Albany Off Leash K9 Training.
- Bring an ID tag with your phone number on it when you pick up your dog as an extra measure of safety for the ride home and the first few uneasy days. If he is microchipped, be sure to register your contact information with the chip’s company, if the rescue or shelter did not already do so.
- Moving is stressful — Give your dog time to acclimate to your home and family before introducing him to strangers. Make sure children know how to approach the dog without overwhelming him. Go here https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/bringing-a-dog-home/parents-adopt-dog/ for more on introducing dogs and children.
Lastly, it’s important to remember to ask what and when your dog was fed before bringing him home for the first time. I found out the hard way that not doing so can cause unnecessary tummy distress for our new family member.
After her first overnight and tummy upset in her new home we scheduled a visit to the vet who recommended we feed her the same food and follow her previous eating schedule for the first few days. It was okay to switch her food, she said, as long as we did so gradually over a period of about one week. The vet recommended we add one part new food to three parts of the old for several days; then switch to half new food, half old, and then one part old to three parts new.
We’re all very happy to have Sadie as our new addition and encourage anyone thinking about adding a dog to their family to take the plunge!!