How long does it take for a rescue dog to adjust? That depends quite a bit on you! As anxious as you may feel about bringing home a rescue pup, your new dog is feeling more nervous. His entire life has changed, and let’s face it – he doesn’t yet realize it’s for the better. It will take some time for the two of you to find your rhythm, but there are some steps you can take to ease the adjustment period for the both of you.
Tips for Helping Your Rescue Dog to Adjust
- Set boundaries at home. Decide which areas of your home you’d like your new dog to have access to, and use gates or closed doors to keep her away from restricted areas. Prepare several spaces throughout the “safe” areas for her to rest and regroup. You might even put a cozy pet bed in both the living room and family room, for example, so she knows which places are “hers.”
- Give him your time. When you first bring home your rescue, clear your schedule for a few days (including taking some time off work, if you can). Separation anxiety is common in rescue dogs, so practice leaving the house for short periods of time before leaving him home alone for an entire work day.
- Praise her for everything! You might want to take stock in dog treats because if you’re doing it right, you’ll go through a lot! Lead her to her new bed, and give her praise and treats when she lies down on it. Each time she eliminates outside, give her a treat (even if she seems housebroken, it doesn’t hurt to reinforce the good behavior). When you vacuum for the first time, give her praise and a treat. She needs to learn your expectations, and giving her positive encouragement will minimize the learning curve.
- Be firm, but gentle, when correcting negative behaviors. Don’t forget – if you don’t catch your dog in the act of doing something naughty, he can’t associate your frustration with his behavior; he knows you’re angry, but he doesn’t know why. Yelling only causes your dog to fear you, so make sure you redirect negative behaviors with a firm, yet calm, voice.
- Keep guests to a minimum. Friends and family may be excited to meet your new dog, but ask them to hold off for a few weeks. She is busy getting acclimated to her new home, new family, and new expectations – don’t also put the pressure of meeting new people on her until she’s had some time to adjust.
- Be patient. The adjustment period varies from one dog to the next, and it can take up to a couple of months. Don’t lose heart. Work at creating a bond with your dog, and give it time. He’s worth it.
Your dog will quickly realize that she can trust you and that her new home is a safe, stable place for her to be. Rescues can be some of the very best pets – it’s almost as though they can really appreciate the good since they’ve seen the bad. With a little effort, you can make the adjustment period easier for your new dog and more quickly get on with enjoying your new companion!