How to Help Your Adopted Dog Make the Adjustment

Sooner with his new parents Mary and Joe

Handsome Sooner with his new companions Mary and Joe!

For a dog, the first few weeks in a new home are a critical transition period. This is why we want to give you some tips on how to help your newly adopted dog make the adjustment!  

Adoptive owners view a dog’s new life in their home as a wonderful change from a shelter environment; however, the transition requires an adjustment for the dog. He was familiar with his shelter surroundings, a daily routine, and to the sheltering personnel. In his kennel he could do as he/she pleased, including chew, eat, bark, jump up and down, or whatever came natural to avoid boredom.

When our new dog enters your home, he is suddenly confronted with a whole new set of social companions in a totally new environment filled with unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells. He may be confused, and a little frightened, facing a big adjustment with the new family. In the process you may be faced with some undesirable behavior. DON’T PANIC! By modifying or redirecting his actions, you can help him become a model member of the family.

Dogs are impressionable in a new environment. Plan to invest some time during this period to socialize, teach, and get acquainted with your new pet. For a well socialized dog, the adjustment process can take two weeks to two months, on average. For some socialized dogs it may take up to a year or longer to become accustomed to the new environment, people and routine.

When you arrive home with your new dog:
Building a relationship with your new dog is the most important aspect for the dog and your family. Having a strong foundation is the key to building this relationship.

Try This: Whether you have a resident dog or your new pet is the only dog, taking him (them) for a long walk around the neighborhood when you first get home, even for an hour, is ideal. This is going to help the dog relieve stress. Just remember this is for exercise and NOT to meet neighbors or other animals. This will help to start a relationship between the dog(s) and you. You will also begin to learn more about your new dog.

When you get back home, the resident dog should be allowed to do what he normally does. The new dog should be confined to one room so he can learn boundaries and the rules of the household. After one or two weeks the new dog can be introduced to the rest of the house. The new dog can eat, sleep and drink in this room. Appropriate chew toys can be given for entertainment. Kongs with peanut butter are especially good. Play should not include tug of war and rough housing.

If you are going to use a crate, it should be large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in. It’s important to keep one thing in mind when crate training: it should always be associated with something pleasant. In order to encourage your dog to enter the crate, drop small treats near it, then just inside the door, and finally all the way inside the crate. If the dog refuses to go all the way inside at first, that’s okay – don’t force him to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If he isn’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate.

When crating your dog when you leave, don’t make departures emotional and prolonged, but matter-of-fact. Keep arrivals low key. A crate isn’t a magical solution. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated. For example, if your dog is crated all day while you’re at work and then crated again all night, he’s spending too much time in too small a space. Other arrangements should be made to accommodate his physical and emotional needs. Also remember that puppies under 6 months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for longer periods.

A baby gate can be used on an open door so the new dog can see and smell the new house and what goes on.

The dog should be taken outside to urinate and defecate at least every three hours to a designated area until he adjusts to this new schedule. Praise the dog when he goes potty. Be consistent.

The dog(s) should be walked every day for relationship building and exercise.

Do not overwhelm your new dog by introducing him to too much too soon. This means outside family members, neighbors, other dogs, unfamiliar places, etc. Your new dog needs to get to know you as his new pack leader first.

Introduce people to your new dog slowly. Let the dog go to the new person. It is best if the new person approaches your new dog sideways making little eye contact. The new person can offer a treat to the dog.

Dogs and children do not understand each other. Children move quickly and their playful screaming makes the dog react by instinct. Children do not understand why dogs move away from them and they must be taught to respect the dog’s space. The dog needs to be taught to respect the children’s space as well. Children should be supervised at all times to ensure safety for them as well as the dog. NEVER leave a child alone with any dog. If a dog bites a child, it is typically the fault of the parent.

It will take your new dog time to get used to his new surroundings and family, so remain patient, fair and always loving. If you have any questions or are experiencing a problem, please call us at 941-474-7884.

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