How does a shelter dog go from a green rating my a shelter assessor being euthanized days after being adopted because the dog killed the adopters cat or bit a person in the family? I came across two such incidents just this week. After reading both articles I have attributed the dog’s death to human error. Any new pet coming into a household should be put on a two week shutdown at a minimum. This is so that the dog has adequate time to decompress and become familiarized with its new surroundings as well as new pets in the home. It is also a great way to get any pet in that home safely acquainted and acclimated with the new family member. Keep in mind that it is a stressful situation for all involved. A two week shutdown consists of the following:
-Crate your new pet in a room by itself. Unless your dog is being walked, exercised, fed or let out to relieve itself he or she should be crated.
-Everyone wants to come see, pet and coddle the new family member. This should NOT be allowed. Your new pet is filled with emotions ranging from fear, anxiety, excitement all which lead to bad behavior and responses on their part.
-Establish yourself as the leader and not with any obedience training as this should not be started for the first two weeks. Gentle redirection is okay as well as praising good behavior. -You want to be the one feeding the dog, walking the dog and playing with the dog, ie fetch in the yard. Stay away from dog parks.
-After the initial two weeks I would look to implement a one week stepdown where the dog is now moved into a common area still crated and gradually extend free time.
-Slow introductions to other pets are best done outdoors in neutral territory, ie. a walk.
-SUPERVISE YOUR PETS AT ALL TIMES. If you see a behavior that alarms you and you are not sure what to do. Reach out to an expert be it your vet or a trainer.
This protocol will save lives and minimize shelter returns.