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Adopting a Stray: Everything You Need to Know

When you choose to adopt a stray dog, you are making a caring choice. Yet it’s not as easy as saying you want to adopt a stray and then finding one. There is a lot to think about, and much of the time, when you opt for a stray, there is more to consider than if you were to buy a puppy from a breeder. Here are some of the things you need to know before you can happily and securely take a stray into your household. 

Understand the Shelter System 

The ASPCA suggests that around 2 million people adopt a stray dog each year, and that’s a wonderful thing, but the number might be higher if some common misconceptions about shelters were addressed. Have you ever wondered what happens to dogs in shelters? Click here and find out; you might be pleasantly surprised. 

Most people’s idea of a dog that comes from a shelter is that it is defective in some way; after all, it was given up by its previous owner for some reason. The truth is that this is not always the case, and in the majority of situations, the dog is perfectly healthy and happy and simply needs a home to call its own. Of course, there will be dogs that need a little extra help, but this is something you can discuss with the shelter. If, however, you’re looking to adopt a stray that will be a wonderful new addition to your family, looking at shelters is the best thing you can do. 

Your Dog Will Be Scared 

You cannot explain to your adopted stray dog what is happening when you take it home. You can’t give reasons why it was in the shelter, and you can’t give reasons why it isn’t there anymore. No matter how great a home you have for it, no matter how kind and caring and how much in love you are right from the start, your dog is going to be scared because it doesn’t understand what’s happening. It is being taken from one environment and placed in another one that it doesn’t know, with people it doesn’t know. You would be scared in the same situation, so it’s perfectly natural. 

A scared dog will react in a variety of different ways depending on its personality. It might hide, it might cry, it might not stop barking, it might even be aggressive. The crucial thing you need to do is to give it time to adjust because, in almost all cases, it will. Don’t assume that just because it hasn’t settled in after a couple of days that it never will, and take it back to the shelter – it could take a while before it feels comfortable being with you, so be patient. 

You’ll Need to Dog-Proof Your Home 

Your home is set up just how you want it. It’s comfortable, safe, and secure. Yet, although that’s fine for you and your family, that might not be quite right for your new adopted dog. You will need to spend some time looking around your home and making sure that it is safe for a canine companion too. 
This means removing any items that a dog might chew or eat – you don’t have to take them away altogether, but placing them higher is a good idea. Not only might something you love get chewed, but it could make your dog sick. Think about moving dangling wires, medication, certain houseplants (lilies are particularly dangerous), and toys. You should also check your yard and cover or fill any holes that your dog might use to escape.

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