Adopting a rescue dog: what to expect the first seven days
It’s finally happened! You’re a proud, new pet owner.
You’ve taken the time to research what type of dog would be best for your lifestyle and reading about how to go about adopting one from a shelter. Finally, you found the perfect match; Your life is suddenly complete.
But what happens next? How do you know if this is going to work out? What are some things that you can expect in those first seven days as your new rescue pup adjusts to his new home? In this blog post, we will discuss topics on how to let your new dog adjust, getting to know your new pup, and establishing a routine all within that first week.
We also want to mention that while we’re saying “rescue dog” in this article this applies to all dogs whether from a shelter/rescue or a reputable breeder. All dogs need time to decompress and together you need to learn about each other and establish a routine and more.
We are also sharing photos and links to dogs currently waiting for the furever homes from one of my favorite rescues and the one that I work with (on the cat team) and where we adopted our girl Nyx from in December 2019 – Three Little Pitties (also Saving Kitties) Rescue. Just click on the photo of the dog to go to their adoption profile.
How to settle a rescue dog (or any dog) into a new home
Settling into a new environment can be overwhelming for everyone, your rescue dog is no different. You must start slowly with them, while still trying to get them accustomed to things like their new space, toy, bed, food bowl, etc. It is crucial to prepare the house for your rescue dog before bringing them home, as bringing in a bunch of new things for them during their adjustment period can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for them.
How long does it take for a dog to adjust?
Every dog is different and may have been through different things in their life before you adopted them. Even if you’re adopting a puppy it doesn’t mean it’s any easier, in fact, puppies are a lot of work, usually more so than adult dogs.
There are things that can sometimes affect their trust and ability to bond quickly. The usual expectation follows the 3-3-3 rule, which is 3 days to get accustomed to surroundings, 3 weeks to become used to house rules and begin bonding, and 3 months to feel truly at home. But while this is a common rule, many dogs can take anywhere from 3 months to a year before they are fully adjusted and can feel at home.
Adopting a Rescue Dog: What To Expect For The First Seven Days
If you are adopting a rescue dog, the first 7 days are a crucial time for both you and your new furry friend. This will be a period of adjustment for you both, so it is normal to expect tension, anxiety, and curiosity.
Your dog will be in a brand-new environment with someone who is a stranger to them. You must be patient, understanding, and respectful of their boundaries during this time. Even still, you want to introduce them to things slowly and make them feel welcome with you in your new home together.
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Day 1: Bringing Your Dog Home
Day 1 is all about minimizing stress, trying to keep your new dog from getting overwhelmed, and introducing them to necessities only. You can give them a toy or a treat but do not try to train them immediately or give them free rein of the house. This will surely overwhelm them and increase their stress, making it harder for them to adjust. Keep it simple by introducing them only to the members who will be consistently living in the house, their bed, and the room in which they will spend most of their time in.
Day 2: Getting to Know Each Other
Day 2 is an exciting day because you can start trying to form a bond with your new dog. Don’t be overly aggressive with your affections or allow any small children to infiltrate their space just yet, but you can all sit quietly in a room with the dog and allow them to explore you.
You can play and interact with the dog of course, but do not force any activities on them unless they have shown they are ready. You also want to slowly introduce them to other things in the house, perhaps only showing them a new section every day, this way they can slowly explore without the stress.
Days 3-7: Creating & Establishing A Solid Routine for Your New Rescue Dog
The rest of the week should be dedicated to continuing to let them explore and become comfortable with the home and your family, while also introducing a routine to their life. A routine established early, will give the dog a sense of security and control. They know what will happen when and where things are, so it relieves them of a lot of unknowns.
You will want to establish designated meal times so that your dog will know when to expect food, and is less likely to beg throughout the day. Designated meal times keep you and your dog on a schedule so that you do not overfeed them.
Your new dog, regardless if they are old or young, will need exercise. It is a good idea to have designated exercise times so that your dog knows when it is appropriate to let loose all that energy, they may be holding in. Even older dogs will need daily walks to keep healthy and in shape, and it is a good way for you to spend time alone together to bond.
Similar to exercise, you want to give your new dog designated playtimes, or at least attempt to. Your dog may want to play a lot, which is great, but you want to make sure they understand when and where to play, so they do not end up destroying furniture or running wild around smaller children or pets.
Potty areas are essential to be introduced early. If you plan to let them outside and there is a specific section of the yard for doing their business then be sure to direct them there every time you take them out. You also want to pay attention to when your dog needs to go out and try to find consistent times to take them so that they will begin to understand the potty routine.
It is very helpful for a dog to have a place for bedtime that they consider their own. While you may be tempted to let them sleep with you in your bed, letting them have their own space allows them a sense of security in their new environment. Be sure to direct them to their space and bed, you can introduce this to them before bedtime so they understand it is theirs. Then follow up before bedtime to let them know this is when we sleep, and that is where you sleep. This will help solidify a sleeping schedule for them.
The first seven days+ at home with your dog is an adjustment period for you both
A rescue dog is a lovable companion, they may just need some extra patience and love once they are brought to a new home. If you follow these tips, you are sure to have a happy and well-adjusted furry companion for life.