Tips for Adopters

Congratulations on adopting your new family member! Here are some tips to help you and your new Sochi dog acclimate and thrive.

Before Your Dog Arrives

You will want to pick up supplies and come up with a plan for introductions and training. Research your options and select a healthy, balanced, high-quality food for the correct age of the dog you are adopting. You will need a collar and harness. You will want a comfy bed, cleaning supplies, and some toys. You can find our suggested shopping list here. Get any baby gates installed and puppy proof the area your dog will be staying (get used to keeping shoes put away!). Select a vet by researching near-by options and reading reviews. We suggest selecting a vet that is AAHA-accredited, check here.

At Pick-up

We will coordinate the pick-up of your new dog with you. Please bring an appropriately sized harness or martingale collar, a leash and some tasty treats to help win your dog’s heart and help them feel comfortable on the way home.

For the trip home our dog should sit in the back seat. They'll likely fall right asleep. Bring a car seat cover and some extra towels and wipes just in case.

In the Beginning

This is an exciting but sometimes challenging and stressful time for everyone since you are both getting used to each other.

After the flight, it's normal for your dog to feel some jet lag and it may take a few days for your dog to adjust to the time change. They may also be a little extra hungry or thirsty after their long flight, make sure food and water are sufficiently available. Your dog’s stool may be loose in the first few days as they adjust to their new diet. It’s a good idea to keep plain white rice (cook without butter or salt), plain cooked chicken breast, and a probiotic or some plain canned pumpkin on hand. These foods can help with loose stool.

If you already have a dog or cat at home make a plan to introduce them. Dogs should be introduced on neutral territory and taken for a walk or allowed to socialize in a neutral fenced-in area to get to know one another before the new dog enters the home. The new dog and resident dog should have separate safe spaces that they can retreat to should they feel tired or anxious. Cats should be separated and introduced slowly on a leash. Make sure your cat has an escape route so they don't feel threatened. You can leave a short leash on your new dog in the house at the beginning to redirect behavior if necessary or until it is known how your new and resident animals will interact with your new dog. Walking your new dog and resident dog together will help them bond.

If you have kids, introduce the dog slowly and do not allow too much interaction initially. Allow the dog to rest and interact on their terms. Teach your dog boundaries with your child and vice versa. Be careful with children and food, only let your child offer your dog food once you understand how the dog will react. Some dogs need a little training before they can take a treat gently. Also, limit your child and dog playing with toys together until you can understand how the dog will react. Teach the child not to take a toy that the dog is actively playing with and not to get into the dog's food bowl.

Giving a bath:
We recommend that you wait a few days before bathing your dog unless it is absolutely necessary. Baths can be stressful especially for a dog in a new environment. When they have been in the home a little longer and are starting to feel comfortable you can introduce them to grooming slowly. Regular baths, nail trimmings, teeth brushing, and hair brushing might be all new for your dog and it’s easiest for them to cooperate if they have positive experiences with each of these activities, we don’t recommend forcing your dog to comply.

Walking on a leash:
New dogs should be leashed with a martingale collar or a harness at the beginning. It's difficult for a dog to escape on a martingale collar but they can slip out of a harness easily. If you want to be extra safe, get a collar and a harness and use two leashes. This way if your dog gets out of one of these you always have the backup of a second leash. Dogs that slip out of their collar or harness in a new area may not be able to find their way back and for this reason sometimes we suggest double leashing until you and your dog understand each other well. After the first month, we recommend a martingale collar or harness for proper control over your dog. A front clip harness can help with a dog that pulls during walks but equipment is not a substitute for leash manners training. Try to walk your dog on the same route for a while so your dog understands where they are and how to get home. This will also help them acclimate to the sights and sounds of your neighborhood in a controlled way. NEVER let a dog off leash or in a yard unattended until you know how your dog will behave in these situations. If your dog should get out of their collar/harness or yard do not chase them! Crouch down and gently coax them to come back to you.

Different dogs have different ways of dealing with change and stress. If your new dog seems afraid, don’t push any interactions them. What seems soothing to you may not be soothing to the pup. Make them a safe cozy area in the home and let them open up on their own time, getting used to the sounds and smells of their new home. Don’t force eye contact or petting or play, let the dog come to you. Get down to the dog’s level by sitting or crouching to make them feel comfortable. If your dog is comfortable with taking food from your hand you can feed them by hand as a means to bond. There’s soothing dog music on YouTube or Amazon music that you can leave playing by their bed, if they feel anxious, and when you leave. We recommend classical music or talk radio or white noise or an album like this one: A Dog’s Ear: Soothing Music for Dogs with Anxiety on Amazon Music. Rescue remedy and thunder shirts can also be used for natural anxiety/stress relief.

Sleeping arrangement:
Decide where your dog will be sleeping and make a plan to get them to that point. In the first few nights, it’s very important to have the dog sleep in your bedroom or for you to sleep near where the dog is sleeping. If you are crate training you may not be able to get the dog to sleep in the crate on the first night and that is perfectly ok, take it slow and assess your dog’s reaction. Never force a dog into a crate! We suggest that after training is completed, dogs sleep in a family member’s bedroom on a dog bed.

If crating is needed:
If the dog will be in a crate, allow them in the crate with the door open. Give a command like “crate-up” throughout the day and toss treats into the crate to get the dog used to going in and out of the crate. Feed regular meals in the crate. You can extend mealtime by feeding meals out of a Kong. You can pack Kongs with wet food or kibble that has been moistened and even freeze it. Work up to closing and latching the door slowly. Once comfortable with being in the crate you can start leaving them for short periods of time. Try going to another room or to get the mail and come back. Build up their tolerance over time. Never crate your dog for punishment! This will teach them to hate the crate.

Dogs love routine:
Try to keep your dog in one area where you can see them. This will also help with potty training, if needed.

If possible, we recommend someone being with your new dog at all times for a minimum of 3 days before starting to train them to be alone. If you are planning to have a dog walker or take your dog to doggie day care, start introducing them to those people/places slowly.

Try to stick to a routine so your dog knows what to expect for the day and doesn’t get overwhelmed. Here’s a sample routine to start with for a dog that is still housebreaking:

7 am (or upon waking) immediately pick up or leash your dog and take them directly outside to relieve themselves and bring them back inside.
7:30 am Give your dog their first meal.
8:00 am Take your dog outside to relieve themselves and get them a good 30 min workout by either walking, jogging, or playing a vigorous game of fetch.
10:30 am take your dog outside to relieve themselves
12 pm Feed lunch (lunch is usually provided to young dogs or dogs who need to gain weight, if your dog is an adult you can feed 2 or 3 meals a day whatever is convenient for your schedule)
12:30 pm Bathroom break
2:30 pm Bathroom break
4:30 pm Bathroom break + another 30 minutes of vigorous walking or jogging or fetch
6 pm Feed dinner
6:30 pm bathroom break
8:30 pm bathroom break
10:30 pm bathroom break11pm bedtime

Note: Over time bathroom breaks can be extended from every 2 hours to every 4. Dogs under 12 months need a break at least every 4 hours. Dogs over 12 months need a break at least every 6 hours

Give sample bathroom breaks, every 2 hours and 30 minutes after they eat or take a big drink. Take your dog to the same spot outside every time and give your dog a command like “do your business” when they relieve themselves say “yes” or “good” and give a treat. If your dog has an accident in the house and you catch them doing it try to make a loud noise to interrupt them like clapping, pick them up and get them leashed and outside as quickly as possible. Give them a chance to finish their business outside and reward them if they do. If you did not catch your dog in the act and find an accident later, do not react in any way, your dog will not understand what you are reacting to. Never scold a dog for any accident, this will only teach your dog to hide when they need to relieve themselves and you will likely end up with accidents hidden behind couches or in corners. Try to keep eyes on your dog at all times; you can even tether them to you with a leash so that you have total supervision to catch an accident as it occurs. Puppies generally housebreak in 3 weeks with consistent effort and adult dogs usually take about a week.

Sometimes dogs experience anxiety or fear of new things such as strangers, loud noises, reflections in mirrors/windows or strange dogs. Behaviors may include retreating, barking, growling. Do not correct or say “no” to fearful behavior. Allow the dog to retreat by himself or herself. You can try to redirect this behavior by getting the dog to focus on you and then offering a treat for good behavior like sitting or going into their crate calmly. Again, rescue remedy or a Thunder Shirt are natural ways to help with anxiety or stress.

Try not to introduce them to too much in the first month. Do not go to the dog park or pet stores until you and your dog understand each other well. Let your dogs acclimate at their own time. Enroll in some basic training for your dog. Training builds a bond with you and your pup, builds confidence, helps with socialization and is really fun for your dog. It is not only for dogs with behavioral issues. If you would like a recommendation for a trainer or a group class in your area, please contact us.


Exercise is the key to a happy and well-behaved dog. An adult dog needs about an hour of vigorous exercise per day adjust up or down as required by your dog. Exercise could be in the form of vigorous walking, jogging, hiking, playing with another dog, or playing a game of fetch. Any training activities should happen after the dog has exercised to get rid of excess energy and ready to calmly listen to direction. Exercise is important for the health and happiness of your dog.


In the shelter dogs are fed home cooked "sochi stew”, a mixture of oats, veggies and meat. While you are welcome to cook for your dog, we suggest choosing a mixture of canned, dry, and raw food. When choosing a kibble for your dog, please research the options and select a well-balanced, nutritional, high-quality food formulated for the age and health needs of your dog. A higher quality food will help you save on vet bills later on! You can call or go to a reputable pet store or speak with your vet to understand your options.

If notice your dog is eating too fast that can lead to up upset stomach. Purchase a slow feeder bowl or food puzzle toy to dispense their meals out of. Or simply take a small bowl and flip it upside down in your dog's bowl and but the food on the outside of the flipped bowl for your dog to eat around. Fresh drinking water should be available at all times.

When your dog is eating give them space, but occasionally come up and drop something tasty into their bowl. This can prevent guarding activity and teaches them that it’s a good thing if you approach their dinner. If you have a resident dog in the house, dogs must be separated during mealtime until you can trust them to eat their own food and not steal from one another or instigate a fight.

House Rules

Create clear boundaries in your home. Is your dog allowed on the couch or not? Only with permission? Do they need to wait patiently while you’re making their food or are they allowed to jump up in excitement? Set boundaries and enforce them so things are not confusing for your dog. This is less stressful for dogs (they know and understand the house rules and this leads to less anxiety). If you have a resident dog try to make things equal for them; if one dog is allowed on the couch they both should be or if one dog is crated while you are out, they both should be, etc.

If you feel your dog may be anxious when you leave, create a safe place for your dog. Use either a crate or a cozy gated area with their bed. Practice leaving for short periods at a time (even going out to get the mail) and do not make a fuss when you leave or come home. You will ALWAYS return and it’s not a party. Only give attention once your dog settles down. You might want to start very small, simply with your dog in one room and you in another. Reward and come out only when your dog is calm. Remember no big hellos or goodbyes initially.

Dogs communicate via subtle changes in body language that humans often do not recognize. Please take a look at the graphic below which illustrates different body language and try to understand your dog and how to respond to their needs.

Meet Your Vet

Don’t forget to schedule an appointment with your vet. They will want to see your dog’s passport or USDA certificate. Remember the dates in the passport are written in the European format: DAY/MONTH/YEAR and vaccinations are valid for one year from the date of administration.

All dogs are fully vaccinated with Rabbies, DHPPi and Leptospirosis vaccinations and spayed/neutered at the shelter.They also have a microchip that you will activate at so that if your dog is ever lost and dropped off with a vet or shelter they will know how to reach you. Dogs 10 months and older are tested for heartworm and tick borne illnesses before they travel. All dogs are dewormed.

You’ll want to chat with your vet about the need for a bordetella vaccination which is an optional vaccination but it is required if you sign up for a training class, a doogy day care or if you plan to board your dog while away. Ask about heartworm preventatives and get them started right away. Check with your vet about their preferred method for flea and tick control. Ask them how they handle sick visits, where they recommend you get emergency services, and take note of their regular hours.

Pet Insurance

Sign up for pet insurance. Health care for major accidents or illnesses or emergency care can be hugely expensive. We recommend that all of our adopters cover their pets under insurance policy like those offered by Trupanion. By covering your pet you will never have to choose between providing costly life-saving medical care and euthanizing your dog. In your adoption packet you will find a certificate for one free month of coverage with Trupanion and no waiting periods. Trupanion is the only insurance provider that offers certificates like these to rescues. There is no commitment required to get your free month and you don’t have to enter any payment information unless you decide to keep the plan. Make sure you enroll within 24 hours after your dog’s first vet exam!

If you need more help, reach out to our experienced team of volunteers at or take advantage of our Facebook community: Sochi Dogs: Happily Ever After We love to hear how you’re doing and get updates!


The Sound Proof Puppy Training App is an application available on the iPhone store that features many different sounds you can play. Try using this app while your dog is calm or while feeding treats to introduce and acclimate them slowly, playing indoors so they make good associations with all the noises in our world.

Training treats: we like the brand Real Meat or Happy Howie’s: a 2 lb. roll chopped into tiny pieces can last a while!

We love the durable, plastic, jingle–free ID tag from Boomerang Tags. It securely clips onto your dog’s collar and there’s no noise when your dog shakes.

Toys: Sochi dogs play don’t have many toys at the shelter and likely won’t be too picky with whatever toys you choose for them. Also, we recommend moving your shoes to a secure location where your dog(s) can’t get to them. Shoes are a natural choice of toy for most dogs.

To give your dog some activity and mental stimulation: Look into Kong toys, which you can stuff and freeze with: dog food, yogurt, peanut butter, or dog-appropriate veggies, among other foods!

West Paw makes rubber toys made in the USA. They are guaranteed to be replaced if your dog chews through the toy. They also make some interactive puzzle toys.

Look into a properly fitted front-clip harness or a martingale collar for your dog. Some brands: Sense-ation harness, Freedom harness.

Nest, Furbo, and others make cameras that you can place around your home to keep an eye on your new pup while you are out of the house.

Books and Other Resources

The Other End of the Leash – Patricia B McConnell

101 Dog Tricks – Kyra Sundance. Fun things to do with your dog to provide mental stimulation and activity. There is also a children’s version of this book.

As a Dog Thinketh – Monique Anstee. Beautiful book that simplifies how and what dogs are really thinking

Zac George’s Dog Training Revolution Youtube Channel

PetMD - written and approved by vets. This website has an enormous volume of information pertaining to pet health, nutrition, and care.