Bringing your new dog home for the first time is an exciting time for you and your new family member. Below are some tips to help you both get off to a great start.
Keep your expectations realistic. Every dog is an individual and have their own time frame of settling into a new home.
With most dogs, it takes at least three weeks for them to begin feeling like they're at home. Others, especially those that may have had a rough start in life, or were not socialized as much as some, it may take up to 2-3 months to feel completely safe and comfortable with their new family and environment.
Your newly adopted dog is definitely going to be under stress when he or she first comes in to your home. Ideally, it is always best to bring your new dog home when you are able to spend a couple of quality days with them. Keep excitement and activities to a minimum until you see your dog becoming comfortable and more aclimated to their new enviornment. Keep visitors, introductions to new dogs, places, and people to a minimum. Give them time to bond to YOU before placing them in other new or stressful situations they may not have ever encountered. Don't rush the process! If your dog is shy, read more about this topic here.
Signs of stress can be easily overlooked. Below are a few examples of what you could observe. Don't become alarmed. All of these are stress relievers a dog naturally uses and all of them will pass in time.
- Panting/heavy drooling
- Agitated or skittish
- Seems to be "on alert"
- Overly submissive or shy
- May not eat for a 1-3 days
- Refuses treats
- May drink very little water
- May drink a lot of water
- Lose bowel movements
- May not have a bowel movement for 1-3 days
- May not urinate for 1-2 days
- Submissive urination
THINGS THAT CAN HELP
- Develop a daily routine; a week of calm, constant routine can make a huge difference
- Limit introductions to new people
- Do not force your dog to interact with anyone they're not familiar with yet
- Do not leave the dog outdoors unsupervised – they do not know who you are or that this is their new home and may try to ESCAPE
- Be aware that they will probably try and DART OUT OF ANY OPEN DOOR – use a leash or put the dog in the crate before opening any door to an unfenced area
- No trips to dog parks
- If multiple dogs are in the home keep roughhousing and toy activity to a minimum
- Go easy on the corrections
- Allow the dog down time in their crate if you notice any stress
- Exercise the dog by taking a daily walk
- Do not introduce new/strange dogs until you see they are settling in and becoming comfortable with you, their new home and routine