Posted June 22, 2019 at 07:28 AM Under "Adoptions & Adoption Programs"
Slow introductions

Unfortunately, we've had an increase in returns lately due to the adopters not heeding our advice about slow introductions to the other dog in the family. We have families throwing up their arms after just three days. UGH! What more can we do to help the adopters understand that you can't just "plop" the new dog into the family and everything is going to be perfect?

Thanks in advance for your tips, tricks and guidance.


  • June 22, 2019 at 01:24 PM

    We have a program that teaches adopters how to do safe, neutral introductions and much more before they take home the adopted dog. It avoids a lot of these types of problems, greatly reducing the chances for behavior issues and returns.

    • June 22, 2019 at 05:04 PM

      Do you have any materials from the program you can share?

      • June 22, 2019 at 10:00 PM

        PS: All of our pre-adoption materials, adopter training, et cetera, are based on the principles of The Hierarchy of Canine Well-Being, which is here: https://www.expertcanine.com/hierarchy-of-canine-well-being

        If you can create programs and procedures that accomplish this, you'll be golden!

      • June 22, 2019 at 09:41 PM
        Best Answer

        We have a very long, typed out sheet with detailed step by step instructions for new dog introductions to each animal as well as each new person, the house itself, the yard, and so on. It's a lot to learn so we don't just hand it to the adopter; we teach them how to do it. But here are a couple of shorter things that I think would be helpful to everyone.

        Shortish blog post for new adopters https://www.expertcanine.com/post/newdog

        Video instruction/demo on new dog-dog introduction

  • July 20, 2019 at 04:38 AM

    I wish I had been given this type of Info as a foster mom. I was not told much about how to introduce my 2 resident dogs to my foster. It could have ended badly due my foster dog biting my rat terrier. We ended up adopting our foster but it has been a lot of trial and error.

  • July 12, 2019 at 11:30 AM

    I usually tell people to take the new dog and their dog to a park or something and walk them near each other but not side by side(with the people in the middle). So that their dog can get to know that the new dog is not a threat to the family while on neutral territory. Then introduce them at home.

  • July 09, 2019 at 06:46 AM

    I see quite a few very helpful responses but I will add this for review. It's not mine, as you will see from the author credit, but I think it's valid in communicating the message that transition should be viewed as a weeks long process vs days or hours (yes, we once had a dog returned in less than an hour for being "too affectionate").

    If you don't already, it might be worth trialing having the conversation with the adopter, maybe even ask them to sign or initial that they understand decompression is necessary. <3

  • June 29, 2019 at 02:25 PM

    Hi, I adopted A German Shepherd on June 25, Her name is Layka, I love her so much, I knew she was the one!!!

  • June 28, 2019 at 05:06 PM

    This is serious. All that to get the dog adapted just to return.

    Is there a video that pacc could recommend. We can send adopters the link on how to.

    Who can we ask

    • June 29, 2019 at 03:49 PM

      The video posted above in the thread might be quite helpful for you.

  • June 25, 2019 at 08:47 AM

    Hi Deirdre!

    Adopt-a-Pet.com has a library of online articles and the "Adopting a Dog" ones are listed at https://www.adoptapet.com/blog/adopting-a-dog/ -- help for adopters who are readers.

    When I worked at a shelter we had xeroxed handouts similar to those. It varied by adopter (and how busy we were) but adoption counselors like myself would even read parts out loud to adopters in the counseling office or play yard. Even back then we knew how rarely they'd be read at home.

    Bad Rap describes a slow intro method at http://badrap-blog.blogspot.com/2009/08/fostering-drive-in-slow-lane-for-dogdog.html

    Hope those help!

  • June 24, 2019 at 10:02 AM

    Let me start with our "funny" quote we use (only among ourselves). You can't fix stupid, but you can tranq it. LOL.

    Seriously this is a real issue and in a municipal shelter like ours, we don't have the room or time or staff from March to December for holding animals, waits, etc.. Someday, maybe, But right now the goal is LR, live release. That being said, We, staff and volunteers, make notes on the behavior of the animals during interactions for the records. We have front counter staff that try to educate/guide folks to the right choices using those notes. They will suggest that adopters think on it overnight. We lean on our Volunteers to gently teach introductions. It is difficult for municipal shelters to deny an adoption. We send home guides and such. We offer support to help with in-home issues, even if it is just the fact they need a suggestion about crates or need to borrow a crate. Sometimes all the adopters needs is to know they have someone to call to ask a question. In the end, I would rather try an adoption that MIGHT be a return and hope it isn't than no adoption happening.

  • June 24, 2019 at 07:57 AM

    I have seen a lot of good ideas on preparing a newly adopted pet to acclimate to it's surroundings. I do believe a key element is ensuring that the perspective adopting family is not adopting the animal on a whim or feeling guilty about not adopting the animal out or maybe a pet that just recently passed. The only solution that I would suggest is that have a couple of days in between the time from the completion of the application until the date that the animals is picked up. That way the individual has a little bit of time to consider if the pet will blend in with their life style. Unfortunately we all know that their will always be some returns on the pets we adopt out. All we can really do is try to minimize the amount. Best wishes everyone.

  • June 23, 2019 at 05:22 PM

    @Deirdre Maddie's Pet Assistant could potentially provide an additional way to provide info to adopter's re:integration of a pet to their new home... cause as we've all experienced, unfortunately a printed handout at time of adoption doesn't always get a second look (tho we shouldn't stop trying!).

    Here, attached, is an example section from the app (on phone or tablet) in a doc form for you to check-out; I've also included screenshots of the mobile app itself (survey questions and advice).

    Good luck and reach back if you have questions re: MPA!

    -Amber, MPA Project Manager

    MPA FAQ: https://www.maddiesfund.org/mpa-faq.htm



  • June 22, 2019 at 03:30 PM

    We send a document we created to our adopters (Transitioning a RPSM dog) before they adopt on how to transition their new dog into their family which includes tips on not rushing introductions. I have attached a copy of what we send to adopters, which you could edit to your rescue.

  • June 22, 2019 at 08:45 AM

    I’m sorry to hear that.

    It happens all the time.

    People don’t understand their dogs, and they have not bonded with the adapter yet. They threw the adopter to the dogs as prey or intruder.

    I deal with this all the time, and I've been called by national rescues to do online classes and local classes and teach future adopters how to work with their adopted dog the crucial first three weeks

    People have wrong expectations from their adopted dog and their dog

    during the adoption their mind is in the wrong place and literally don’t have ears to listen and absorb

    I also created a presentation to help with adopters to be prepared and educated before the adoption, not after.

    I also have international breeders who require this class prior they deliver their puppies

    • June 22, 2019 at 04:09 PM

      Do you have any written materials you could share with rescue groups?