Adopting a Stray Dog For Beginners

First of all, thank you for adopting a street dog and giving it a forever home and saving a life. You had a choice to buy a purebred dog, to fit in with society and do what everyone else is doing, but you didn't! You see the problem, it's everywhere, it surrounds us and you realize that we are the solution to this problem. 

There are some important things to know about adopting any dog or bringing a new dog home, and with street dogs and puppies, there are just a few more considerations to think about. 

Before we get started with the things that you may need to buy and training that you may have to do, it is important to note that this is a journey for both you and the dog. The dog is going to go through a big change in his or her life as well. So please be patient as the dog has trusted you to take him/her into your lives and we should always provide the best life that the dog can get. Have patience with yourself, the dog can be a great teacher if we are willing to watch and learn their behaviors, we will, in turn, learn a lot about ourselves as well. I'll share a few examples of this later. 

I'm sharing the following checklist in priority (as much as possible)

  • The veterinary visit - make sure that the dog is healthy. Chances are that it has worms or giardia as it has been eating food scraps and drinking dirty water.  
    • Deworming
    • 7 in 1
    • Anti-rabies
    • Total medical check and bloodwork 
    • Plan a spay or neuter date
  • The shopping trip
    • Cleaners and puppy pads (if a puppy)
    • Dog food
    • Dog crate - see dog training details below
    • Dog bed
    • Leash
    • Collar
    • Harness
    • Chew toys
      • What not to get
    • Chew bones
  • Preparing the house
    • Which room will the dog stay in? 
    • Removing any objects that the dog may want to chew on or pee on
  • Training
    • The absolutely number one rule to dog training - NO HITTING THE DOG. EVER. This is not just cruel, it is simply ineffective and it has been proven by several dog trainers and studies that positive reinforcement of behaviors that you want out of the dog and rewarding the dogs for those behaviors is much more effective. 
    • Crate training - please don't use dog training as punishment or a way to not deal with your dog when you don't want to. This is the dog's safe place and a place that they absolutely love. When you get the dog to love being there, you can eventually just ask the dog to 'crate up' and they'll go there when you need them to. I'll share some more training information here, but for now, get a crate and let your dog hang out in there with the door open. You can start to feed them in the crate, give them their toys in their crate, give them love and let them associate the area with their happy place. 
    • Leash training 
    • Obedience training - sit, stay, come, leave it are the 4 most important commands
  • Exercise
    • This is a crucial step that most dog owners forget, mostly because we forget to do this for ourselves as well. Dogs love to play, run, wrestle, and exhaust themselves. They do this with each other all night in the streets, that's why they are so tired and laying around all day! When the humans are away, the dogs will play. Now that you have adopted the dog, it still needs to get its energy out. When they can't get their energy out, they start taking out that pent up energy around the house and we label it is ''misbehaving'' or unwanted behavior when it is simply the dog being a dog. 
    • Play with your dog! Run around with him in the yard, play tag and run back and forth. Play tug of war, hide and seek, or whatever type of game your dog may be in to. You will have to take some time and see what your dog likes. 
    • Do you notice them chasing flies and bugs? Then try a laser pointer, they may love it and its an easy way to get their energy out and entertain yourselves. Remember to never point it in the dog's eye, it's not safe for humans, and it's NOT safe for dogs. 
  • Love and affection
    • Make sure that you create a healthy balance to give the dog (and yourself) alone time and not create separation anxiety issues when you leave the dog.
    • Dogs love a hand brushing of their coat, this will help remove extra hair and a great way to massage your dog as well. 
  • Specific things to consider regarding stray dogs of India
    • Socializing the dogs, as early as possible for puppies. It is crucial that your dog learns to treat every human as a friend and not a threat. Their life before you was one of constant juggling of trying to figure out if the human is a friend or a foe. It's important to have everyone in the household interact, love and train the dog as much as possible. Even outside the house, if you can, make it a habit to take the dog everywhere you can with you. To friends homes, shopping, car rides and more. The more people your dog can meet the better. And you may have to ask your friends to intentionally give the dog some love and affection and also interact with the dog and show care. 
    • Socializing the dog with other dogs in the neighborhood, have doggy dates where your dog can play with other dog friends. This can be tricky as once, contact a dog trainer if you need to and make sure that the dogs get introduced to all the other neighborhood street dogs. This will make your life so much easier when you take your dog for walks in the future. This strategy may take a little time but it is worth all of the effort. The most well-behaved dog is a tired dog, and there is no better way to tire a dog out than let it play with other dogs. 
    • When adopting an adult stray dog, you may have to have extra patience and time to make sure you understand the dog's behavior well as it may have a history of abuse from humans or attacks from other dogs. It may take a bit longer for an adult dog to trust you and build a relationship, but they will come around and be a great dog. 

We will continue to update this document with the latest training and helpful items in the future, so please check back and leave a comment below on what topics you would like us to cover in more detail. 

Thank you, 

Reet

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