What To Expect After You Adopt

Roice-Hurst Bailey

Adopting a Dog?

Your new dog may have been abandoned, found as a stray, surrendered by a previous family, or abused or neglected in a puppymill. The dog had to adjust to life at Roice-Hurst, or maybe even another previous shelter. Now your newly adopted pet is going home to a new, unfamiliar place with strangers. Kind of scary if you think about it!

Being gentle, considerate, kind and patient will help ease your new dog into his/her new life with you. Some rescue dogs may be very friendly at first while others may be reserved until they get to know you. Let the dog come to you – don’t force him/her to do anything until you better understand his/her personality and behaviors.

Your dog might be afraid and unsure of his new surroundings. If he appears to be scared, keep him in a small, quiet area to start, and take it slow. Don’t allow children to bother the dog if he is afraid; fear can result in nipping. Instead, give your dog plenty of time to adjust to his new surroundings, taking it one step at a time. Don’t give up! Don’t leave your other pets or small children unsupervised with the new dog until they are used to each other.

The First Day Home
Don’t throw a party or invite friends and family over to meet the new dog. This can be very stressful and confusing to your new dog. Give him some time to get used to his new environment, and the people in it.

You may find that, until he relaxes with you, he may be a bit reserved. However, once he settles in, he’ll become much more outgoing. He may actually go too far, just to test his boundaries. This is when you need to be firm, but patient until he learns the rules of your household.

Keep your new dog on a leash as you show him around the house. Show him where his water and food dish are kept. Dogs like to be part of the family, so provide him with a couple of beds, one where the family spends the most time, like the living room, and one where he spends the night.

Give your new dog the opportunity to have some time out if he’s looking a little overwhelmed. Allow him to retreat to a place where he feels safe, and ask your family members to leave him alone. He might just need a little time to regroup, and he’ll be back to play again very quickly.

When you do introduce your dog to new people, make sure they have lots of delicious treats. Your dog’s first impression of your family and friends should be positive. Allow the dog to make the first approach, and give him a treat. Don’t try and pat him straight away, allow him to sniff you and explore you, all the while treating him generously.


Your new dog had a whole different set of rules in his previous home. He may have been allowed to sleep in bed or beg at the table. It’s up to you to teach him your rules. Teaching proper behavior takes time and patience.


Allow several weeks for your new dog to adapt to his new surroundings. He doesn’t know why he’s there or what’s expected of him. Please be patient and anticipate problems before they occur. Don’t leave tempting shoes, clothes, or children’s’ toys within reach.

When you need to go, try to leave home with as little fanfare as possible. Tearful goodbyes do nothing but add to your dog’s anxiety.

Other Things to Watch For

When he’s first settling in, your dog may experience shyness, anxiety, restlessness, excitement, crying or barking. He may exhibit excessive water drinking, frequent urination, or diarrhea. His appetite may not be good. If any of these symptoms last more than a few days, call your veterinarian. Many problems assumed to be behavior issues are actually health issues. For example, frequent urination may indicate a urinary tract infection.

Be Consistent

Your new dog must learn a whole set of new rules. Be patient and be consistent. If you want him off the furniture, don’t allow him to sit on the couch “sometimes”. Don’t allow him to do something one time and forbid it another.

Our Adoption Counselors will advise you regarding any behaviors that have been observed while the animal was at Roice-Hurst.

Introducing Your New Dog to Your Old Dog

Dogs can be quite territorial, so you need to handle this introduction carefully. Your old dog may see your new dog as a threat, and feel the need to defend his home turf.

One of the most common reasons for a failed adoption is problems between a new dog and the old dog. Here are some great tips on what you can do to head off and alleviate potential problems. Read More.

What to Feed Your New Dog

To avoid your new best friend from getting diarrhea from a change in diet, we provide a bag of food that he has been eating at the shelter. Gradually, add new food to the old, until he gets used to it. Give boiled potatoes with the new food. Works great. Rice also works but is more fattening.


Even a potty trained dog can make mistakes in a new home! Expect this to happen. He doesn’t know which door to go to or how to ask his new family what he wants. If there is an accident in the house, don’t assume he is not housebroken. He must get accustomed to his new home and new routines.

Keep a very watchful eye on your new friend and confine him when you can’t watch him. The worst thing you can do is to hit a dog (no, not even with a rolled up newspaper) or otherwise physically reprimand him.This teaches the dog that he must go someplace you can’t see him to eliminate. Praise, not punishment, is the key to a well behaved pet.

Give a firm “no” when you catch him in the act.(Reprimanding after the fact is never effective.) and take him outside immediately. Take him to the same spot each time and praise him heartily when he goes.

If you are gone for long periods of the day, you may want to consider crate training. If you are adopting a puppy or senior dog, they need to go out more often, so make sure that is possible.

A New Member of Your Family

Within a week or two, your dog will have settled into his new home and his new routine. Some will take a little longer. Very few are unable to adjust at all. In most cases the dog will be a well-adjusted member of the family within a month. And well worth it, it will be. In fact, you will probably have trouble remembering when he wasn’t one of you.

You have chosen to give a new home to a deserving shelter dog or cat. You should be proud of yourself.

Without people like you hundreds of pets would be euthanized every year only because no one wanted them.

Roice-Hurst cat

Tips For a Successful Cat Adoption

Be prepared should be your mantra when bringing a new pet into your home. Cats are particularly sensitive to new surroundings and some may hide under a bed or in a closet for days or even weeks.

You can avoid pitfalls with your new critter and help him or her adapt more easily by following these guidelines:

Cats are territorial, and coming into a new home leaves them feeling really uneasy. There’s all that unexplored space, and who knows what may lurk there. Do him a favor and provide a small area to call his own for the first few days or weeks. A bathroom or laundry room works well.

  • Furnish the room with cat amenities, such as food, water and a litter box. You’ll want to spend time with your cat, so make sure there’s a comfortable place for you to sit as well.
  • Fill a litter box with one or two inches of litter and place it in his room where he can use it undisturbed. After all, everyone deserves a modicum of privacy when pottying, and giving him that will help forestall litter box aversion.
  • ​Set up a feeding station with food and water bowls. Locate it away from the litter box.
  • ​Cats love to get away from it all in small places, and you can provide one for your new cat as his own little safe haven. If he came home in a cat carrier, that might be a good choice. You can also make one by cutting a doorway for her in the end of a box. If you prefer, you can buy a covered cat bed at a pet supply store. In either case, make sure the space is big enough for the cat to stand up and turn around in. Cat “feng shui” probably requires that he or she be able to see the door to the room from his hidey hole, so he won’t be startled.
  • ​A cat’s claws need to be worn down, and they do this by scratching on things. Since you prefer that it not be your chairs and sofa, provide your cat with a socially acceptable scratching place. Some types are made of corrugated cardboard and lie on the floor; others are posts which have to be tall enough so that the cat can extend himself upward to scratch. You can encourage your cat (once he has arrived) to use the post by sprinkling it with catnip or dangling a toy at the top. He’ll get the idea. You’ll probably want a scratching post in each room where there is soft furniture, perhaps blocking access to it. You can also install sticky tape (available at pet supply stores) to corners of upholstered furniture to dissuade scratching.
  • ​Look at your house with a curious cat’s eye view for its climbing and exploring potential. When your cat is acclimated to your home, you may be surprised to find him on top of the upper kitchen cabinets, so make sure there’s nothing on display there or on other high shelves that can be damaged or knocked off. If possible, buy a cat tree for your new family member. Cats like to survey their territory, so a high perch is often a favored resting place.
  • ​If there are other human family members, go over the ground rules about your new pet. Remind them not to startle him and to keep the door to his room shut.
  • ​ Bone up on how to introduce your cat to other pets. Keep her door closed and don’t let your other pet race in unexpectedly.

First Day at Home:

Now, you are ready for your cat’s homecoming. Preferably, bring her home in a cat carrier. It will feel safer to her. She has seen a lot of excitement, so take her directly to her new room. (Make sure the toilet lid is down, if she’s to acclimate in your bathroom.) Ideally, you would restrict her exposure to the whole family, but naturally, everyone is going to want to see her. Remind them of the ground rules you’ve set up.

Sit on the floor and let her come to you. Don’t force her. Just let her get acquainted on her own time. If she doesn’t approach, leave her alone and try again later. Some cats are particularly frightened, and she may retreat to her hidey hole and not come out when you’re around at all. She may only come out at night when the house is quiet. Give her time.

Your newly adopted cat may not eat much or at all at first. It’s best to give your cat the same food she had at the shelter or in her foster home, at least at first. Keeping some things familiar will make her feel more secure. Be sure to change her water frequently and make sure that she is drinking. If your cat hasn’t eaten for a few days, call your vet to ask for advice.

Following Weeks:

It may take your cat a week or two to adjust. Be patient.

Within a week of being adopted, take your newly adopted cat for her first wellness visit with a veterinarian. If you have a record of immunizations from the shelter, take it with you.

As your cat adjusts, she’ll show signs that she wants to explore outside her safe haven. Make sure other pets or family members won’t startle her while she gradually expands her territory.

She may be ready to play, so you can furnish some toys. Many cats like feather wands from the pet supply store, but homemade toys are often favored. A wad of a tissue paper to bat around or a paper bag to hide in can be fun.

Congratulations! If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to having a well-adjusted feline family member.