Whenever a dog finds a forever home, we celebrate. Giving pets the homes they deserve is what we’re all about at Wild One. Although most dogs are adopted by their families as puppies, some generous and loving individuals decide to adopt adult dogs instead.
If you’ve recently made this choice, that’s great! However, you should keep in mind that adopting an adult dog isn’t the same thing as adopting a puppy in more ways than one. In fact, you need to be prepared for a different adoption experience and acclimation period if you choose to adopt an adult canine companion.
Let’s break down what you should know to be prepared before your new dog comes home in detail.
What To Expect When Adopting an Adult Dog
When you adopt an adult dog, you’re adopting a mature canine who has their own set personality, needs, wants, and quirks.
Here’s what to expect when you meet them and bring them home:
Not All Dogs Have the Same Personality
Many puppies seem to be alike at first glance, even if they’re different breeds. Why? Simply put, practically all puppies have a lot of energy, are curious about the world around them, and are mostly willing to make friends with new people or dogs.
Adult dogs are different. They’ve had time to solidify their personalities and come to conclusions about people, places, or things. Because of this, odds are any adult dog you adopt will have a more defined, set personality than any puppy you might adopt in another situation.
Roll with this. Don’t go looking for an adult dog to adopt while searching for a specific personality. Instead, try to determine an adult dog’s personality from your initial meeting and decide from there if they’ll be a good fit for your home.
Breed Does Matter… But it Isn’t Everything
You should also, of course, keep an adult dog’s breed in mind while also recognizing that breed doesn’t determine personality or destiny.
Take pit bulls. Lots of people have mixed feelings about pit bulls and assume that all pits will be aggressive or violent dogs. But in reality, lots of pit bulls have sweet personalities and can be gentle, kind, and sharing. It is increasingly common to see pit bulls working as therapy dogs (there’s a reason they were called the “nanny dogs” in the early 1900s; these fellas are huge softies).
So, while you should take breed into account while adopting an adult dog, don’t pre-judge a dog entirely based on their breed. Let them show you who they are.
You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
Lots of would-be pet parents worry that they won’t be able to teach an adult dog how to do tricks or obey commands. Nothing could be further from the truth.
While it’s true that puppies pick up new commands more quickly than adult dogs, you can still teach older dogs new tricks, basic commands, or anything else they may need to learn. Using positive reinforcement and plenty of treats, you’ll be able to teach your adult dog anything you can teach a puppy.
So, if you fall in love with an adult dog, but they don’t seem to have basic commands down, don’t worry. You can teach them those commands once you adopt them.
Expect an Acclimation Period
When you bring an adult dog home, don’t be surprised if they seem a little reserved, isolated, or nervous. This is the acclimation period, and it’s normal for adult dogs whose environments change suddenly. The acclimation period may be longer for dogs who have moved from place to place throughout their lives.
This behavior doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog doesn’t like you or that they won’t get used to things. It just means that they have to settle in before they fully come out of their shell. Acclimation is easier for many puppies because they don’t have anything to compare their new experience to.
Bottom line: if your older dog doesn’t settle into your home immediately, don’t worry. This is a normal part of the adoption process.
Things To Gather Before Adoption
Just like when you adopt a puppy, you’ll want to gather a few crucial supplies so your adult dog will be comfortable when they finally arrive at their forever home.
Bed and Bowl
At a minimum, your dog needs a bed and a bowl (preferably two bowls, in fact – one for food and one for water). The bed should be comfortable and sized appropriately for your dog’s breed. You can place the bed in a crate if you want to crate train your adult dog. Try our Water-Resistant Dog Bed, which has tiered foam for extra comfort.
Food and Treats
Be sure to get your adult dog some healthy food based on their medical history and unique dietary needs. For example, some larger dogs need additional protein and minerals for their bones. Some smaller dogs may need extra vitamins for other health requirements, too.
It's also a good idea to get your adult dog a few treats. These will help give them something to look forward to in their new home and for training them if necessary. Organic baked treats are healthy and tasty, plus good for not upsetting your new pup’s digestive system.
Even adult dogs like to play, especially if they are not too old quite yet. Toys give your adult dog a way to expend their excess energy and interact with you through a bonding experience. Wild One’s Toy Kit has a tug toy, a chewing toy, and more — all made with safe materials like 100% natural rubber.
Be sure to grab some dry shampoo, regular shampoo, and other core cleaning essentials for your dog. They’ll need regular baths just like a puppy would; you might consider giving them a bath shortly after they arrive home from the shelter or pound just to be safe.
Lastly, purchase some walking supplies so you and your new dog can go on walks together. A leash, harness, and package of poop bags are great places to start.
Other Things To Consider
Adopting an adult dog comes with additional concerns; here are a few to keep in mind.
Ask for Vaccination/Health Records
You should always ask for the full and detailed vaccination and health records of an adult dog you adopt. Even if the current owner or shelter claims that a dog is vaccinated, make sure you have the records on hand.
Go over the records and make sure that your adult dog is vaccinated for the standard spread of diseases and parasites. Then check to see if an adult dog has any health issues you might need to be aware of. Some adult dogs, for example, might be allergic to certain foods or medications or may have health concerns that require you to pay for specific medication from a vet.
Get a Vet Checkup Anyway
Speaking of vets, it’s a good idea to take your adult dog to a veterinarian for a basic checkup after you’ve adopted them. In fact, you should still do this even if your newly adopted dog recently saw a vet.
Have your personal vet give them a check over and make sure that there aren't any medical surprises. This way, you can do your due diligence as a responsible pet parent and get started on a vet check schedule. Your dog should be examined at least annually by a vet.
Be Careful When Introducing an Adult Dog to Other Pets
Lastly, remember that each adult dog has their own personality. Plus, you may not know what experiences your new canine companion had when they were younger. This could cause them to behave irrationally or violently toward other dogs.
With that in mind, always be careful when introducing your adult dog to any other pets, especially dogs or cats. You should still act calm and normal, of course. But approach any new interactions carefully until you learn how your dog responds to that kind of stimulus.
A Friend for Life
All in all, adopting an adult dog will still be an enjoyable and rewarding experience from start to finish. If you treat your new dog right, you’ll have a friend for life and get to skip the potty training you have to deal with when you adopt a puppy.
Plus, getting all of the right supplies and tools together is easy with your friends at Wild One. We’ve got almost everything you could need for a new dog, ranging from bowls to treats to toys and more. Check out our online store today and contact us if you have any questions!
Position Statement on Pit Bulls | ASPCA
The first few Days – Set up for Success! | RSPCA
Wellness Visits: How Often Do Animals Need to Go to the Vet? | Brandywine Valley SPCA