It’s always a big decision welcoming a new dog into the family. The responsibility is tremendous, the atmosphere at home shifts and it can often be incredibly overwhelming. When bringing home a rescue, there are often more challenges that come with giving a dog a second chance at a happy life.
For Jacaranda FM presenter Martin Bester, adopting his three dogs has been a life-changing event. “My dogs have changed my life for the better,” he shares. “Adopting a dog certainly has its challenges, but the opportunity to give that animal a second chance at a happy life is one of the most extraordinary things a person can do.”
Adopting a dog in South Africa
If you’re planning on bringing home a dog from the animal shelter soon, Martin shares his top tips on how best to welcome a rescue into your home.
1. Research the breed
Think you’ve found your new forever friend? Great! However, before you go ahead with the adoption process, Martin suggests doing a little bit of research about the breed you are adopting. “Research is certainly the first step to adopting any dog. It’s important to learn about the qualities and traits of that breed and determine if it’s a suitable breed for you and your home.”
Martin explains that some breeds are really big or really small, some breeds require more exercise, some are more difficult to maintain physically and require different levels of grooming. “If you already have a pet, you need to ensure that your new addition is comfortable with other pets as well,” Martin adds. In any case, the shelter you are adopting from will conduct the necessary home checks before your new addition comes home.
2. Prepare your home
Before your new furry friend comes home, making sure that everything is prepared will help make their transition so much easier. “It’s always important to prepare your home before your new dog comes home,” Martin shares. “Creating a safe and comfortable environment for your rescue is so important. In addition to basics like food, water bowls, a collar, get your dog a new bed to sleep in, some toys and treats.”
Martin adds that it’s also important to unpack which family member will be responsible for feeding, walking and training. If there are any other animals in the home, make sure that they are up to date on their vaccinations.
3. Bringing the dog home
“Your new dog will be extremely inquisitive and probably unsure when it arrives at its new home,” Martin shares. “Show them around the house. Showing the dog where their food, bed and toys will help make them feel at home quicker. The dog should also have enough time to explore the garden. Remember, rescues usually have a traumatic past and making them feel comfortable is a very important step in the adoption process.”
4. Introducing your pup to the family
Coming into a new home is certainly an overwhelming experience for any pet, especially a rescue. On top of being in a new space, meeting new people and new dogs can get a little much which is why it is recommended that you introduce your rescue to the rest of the family slowly.
“Conducting a ‘meet-and-greet’ for your new pup is so important and it’s vital to spend some time to do this introduction properly,” the Jacaranda FM presenter shares. “Bring your family members and other dogs to meet your rescue one by one, preferably outside. Make sure other dogs can see how comfortable you are with the new arrival and at the same time reassure them of their place in the house.”
5. Start training immediately
Training is so important when it comes to bringing a new dog into a home. “Puppy training is a great way to ensure that your dog learns basic commands, socialises and builds a connection with you,” Martin shares. “However, rescues often come home a little older and, sometimes, one needs to break through barriers built up by the dog as a result of its past trauma. Training both helps your new dog settle into their new environment and rewards behaviours you want.”
The Breakfast with Martin Bester host adds that giving your rescue time to learn is important and that there will be a few hiccups along the way. “This won’t be smooth sailing, but always find a way to turn mistakes into opportunities,” he says. For example, if your dog jumps on you, ask them to sit instead. Next time, catch them before they have jumped and ask them to sit.”
6. A trip to the vet is mandatory
Within the first week of bringing home your new adopted pooch, plan a check-up with your vet to ensure that your dog is happy, healthy and up to date with all of their vaccinations.
“While the animal shelter would have made sure that the dog is looked after while in their care, visiting a vet in the first week is important to ensure that your new dog is healthy. The vet will also be able to answer any other questions you may have about your pooch and the adoption process.”
7. Consider adopting an adult dog
While puppies are adorable, Martin suggests that, if you’re adopting, bringing home a slightly older dog will help ease the transition process for you. “It’s a misconception that older dogs have their own issues or won’t integrate to your new home with ease,” Martin shares.
“Older dogs are less likely to mess in the house or chew your furniture. The truth is, many older dogs are surrendered due to no fault of their own and giving them a second chance at a happy, loving life is one of the greatest things you can do as a pet owner.”
Catch Breakfast With Martin Bester every weekday between 6am and 9am on Jacaranda FM.