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What Is The Adjustment Period For New Dog

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Disa Emerson is the Behavior Program Director at Seattle Humane Society. Please visit them to check out their adoptable and foster dogs. 

What Is The Adjustment Period For New Dog?

An adjustment period for any dog coming to a new home can take anywhere from a month to six months, sometimes up to a year. We usually tell people to give their dog at least a month or two to really settle in before they are going to see their personality. In that time, it’s really common for dogs to be shut down or to be testing their boundaries like seeing if they can jump on the counter or get on the furniture. Generally speaking, they probably are not going to show who they really are for a couple of months and people can help that adjustment period by again being very patient, offering a lot treats and praise for when the dog does the thing that they like, and in trying to prevent the dog from practicing things that they don’t like.

How can you help your dog to adjust?

Your new dog will be nervous going to a new home. Be patient and kind. No matter what though, do not feel bad for your shelter dog and let them get away with things. If you decide that you do not want your dog to sleep in bed with you, do not let them in bed with you, no matter how sad they may look. Get them a comfy bed and snuggle them on there, give them lots of treats and toys to snuggle.

Avoid doing these things during the first few months:

  • DO NOT leave your new dog alone. They should be in a kennel or a safe small dog area with their toys and some yummies.
  • DO NOT leave your dog alone with kids. Things happen all the time and you want your new dog to only have positive experiences with your child.
  • Avoid large parties or loud events for the first couple of months to avoid stressing your new dog out.
  • Observe your dog very carefully during the first couple of weeks. You want to identify any unwanted behaviors right away and deal with them as soon as possible. Look for:
    • growling or barking at a particular family member
    • resource guarding behavior (food or toys)
    • hyperactivity
    • barking/destructive behavior when left alone
    • eliminating indoors