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How to make adopted pet's transition easier

February 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
If you're looking for a pet, you'll find plenty of animals that need good homes at SEACCA in Downey, Calif.

They're either strays or "owner-surrenders." The shelter serves several cities in Los Angeles and Orange counties, with the goal of finding homes for adoptable animals.

"We transport animals to other states, other countries. We take advantage of any situation we can to place an animal in a home," said SEAACA executive director Dan Morrison.

That includes an updated web page of available animals.

Anaheim Hills resident Sara Duplaga actually adopted two dogs after an interview with Eyewitness News, much to the delight of her 8-year-old daughter, Abby.

"We took a look at it, saw one we liked, and came down and picked her up," said Duplaga.

Animal behaviorist Brandon McMillan trains dogs for the film industry, most of them rescues. In his years working with shelters, he's learned that rescue dogs take minimal time to adjust to their new families.

"It generally only takes a couple weeks. If you can just let the dog adjust, it'll adjust in your home. And you'd be surprised at the results," said McMillan.

While separation anxiety can be a problem, McMillan said a little exercise can put a stop to barking, chewing and digging. He said leaving your new dog home alone for hours at a time is a no-no.

"If you're going to be gone eight or 10 hours a day, get a dog walker, arrange a doggy play date, something. People call me all the time and they say, 'My dog's chewing up the house. He's got so much energy, I can't stop it.' I say, 'Well, you don't need a dog trainer. You need a dog walker,'" said McMillan.

You'll also need time to introduce your current pets to your new one. Having them meet in neutral territory is best.

"A lot of times, the current dog you have in the house may be protective, and you don't want to start things off on the wrong foot. Take them out to the sidewalk. Take them for a walk around the block. Nine times out of 10, things will work out," McMillan said.

And don't forget to do your homework before you adopt. Make sure the breed you take home will be a good fit for your family.

For more adopting tips, click here.