Helping Your Adopted Dog Adapt

Oct 15, 2022     |      Sophie's Circle

Bringing home a new dog means a lot of change, for both you and your dog. It's important to allow a period for adjustment for you both. And it's critical that you help your dog adapt to its new home in any way you can. This will help the dog feel at home more quickly as well as develop trust in you. 

  1. First of all, give your dog time and space to adapt. Depending on what its past was before you adopted it, it could take a while for your dog to feel truly relaxed. Keep any children from crowding it as it adjusts. You do want your new dog to meet any children it'll be around, but make sure you do it with a leash and supervision and keep the children from being overwhelming to the dog. Paying attention to your dog's body language is super important throughout the whole adjustment period. If you have any other pets, handle the interactions between them and the new dog in a similar fashion to those with children.

  2. Feed your new dog separately from any other pets. It needs to feel safe from having their food potentially stolen. Besides, you don't know what triggers they might have. Make sure you don't take away their food dish until they're completely finished. Sometimes a dog in a new space may eat a bit then wander around getting to know its environment, then return to its dish to eat some more. Other times, it might feel aggressively protective over their food, and coming near them could cause it to lash out. Let your dog eat at its own pace, free from any potential threats. 

  3. Help your dog learn its way around the new house. Keep exterior doors closed, and guide it room by room, then let it wander about under supervision. Be patient with it and let it explore the space as tentatively or as eagerly as it needs. Once it has explored the whole space, try calling it from a room or two away for it to get used to moving from room to room and memorize the flow of the house. 

  4. Make sure you take your dog outside regularly even if you have a doggy door. The transition to a new house might stress it out and could cause it to forget any previous potty training. If you do have a doggy door, show your dog where it is and how it works. 

  5. Once you've had your new dog for some time and it seems comfortable in its new home, it's time to train it to be alone. Start by leaving for short periods of time, like for a drive around the block. If you need to, leave your in a dog-proof room until it can be trusted with not damaging things. When you get home, fawn over your dog to help it adjust to the fact that when you go out, you'll always come back. It needs to know you won't abandon it. It might take some time for them to fully become comfortable with it, but eventually, you'll be able to go to work or on a trip without worrying about your dog. 

  6. Show your dog lots of affection, but don't let it rule the house. Encourage the right behavior with positive reinforcement. Make sure your dog knows very explicitly how much you love it, giving it lots of affection, attention, and treats, when appropriate, but remember part of loving your dog is setting healthy boundaries. Dogs need them for mental health the same way humans do. 

  7. If you're having trouble with your new dog, or he doesn't seem to be adjusting or learning the rules you set for it, consider hiring a professional trainer. A trainer can help you learn how to deal with your dog as well as teach the dog commands. the investment will be worth it for both your well-being and your dog's. 

There is a lot of responsibility in adopting a new dog. It's important that you dedicate time to it and show patience, firmness, and persistence. Be intentional about making it feel comfortable and welcome while establishing yourself as the authority. In most cases, these are the secrets to a happy dog and happy owner.