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Published: Oct 31, 2012

Dog adoption is a great way to help a canine in need find a happy home, but it also can make it difficult to get a good grasp on your pet's history, especially if you've adopted an older dog. Here are some tips for adoptive parents who want to make life as easy as possible for their pet, even if they aren't aware of his entire history.

Time for a visit to the vet
First and foremost, you'll need to take your dog to one of the nearby veterinary hospitals for a checkup. A medical professional can give your dog an examination and possibly run tests to assess whether he has any outstanding pet health issues that will need your attention. A vet can also update any dog vaccinations to ensure protection against certain infectious diseases.  Visiting the vet is very helpful for first-time pet owners, as you can get professional advice on dog food and care tips to help your pet adjust to his new home.

It's not all physical
If you don't know your dog’s history, it's possible he may have suffered a mental or emotional trauma that could come as a surprise later on down the line. It's hard to anticipate what these may be, but keeping any eye out for unusual behavior problems like dog aggression can be a key. For instance, if your dog shows fear when going up or down stairs, it may be that he had a bad experience on a staircase at some point in the past. It may take some time to train him to get over this fear, or he may overcome it simply by being in a safe environment. The important thing is to be supportive of your dog and show him that he is secure in your home.

Develop a routine
Dogs are animals who thrive on routine, so minimizing the number of surprises in your dog's life will help him adjust to his new life. Try to schedule walks and feedings at the same times every day, and if possible, make any out-of-the-home commitments, like work, as stagnant as possible. Dogs in a new home will benefit from extra care and attention, so be sure to monitor your dog's progress as much as you can in his first weeks with you.