What to Expect In the First Month with Your Newly Adopted Dog

Integrating a new dog into your family is a happy, but challenging, time. There is the excitement of finding and meeting your new dog, stocking up on supplies at the pet store, and posting adorable pictures to social media. But with the excitement comes big change, both for you and for your adopted dog! The following timeline will help you know what to expect and determine what is normal when introducing a new four-legged family member into your home.

Introducing Dogs

If you already have a resident dog or dogs in your home, you should already have read Introducing Dogs to One Another and Introducing Your New Dog Into a Home with Dogs. If you haven’t, do so before continuing.

family with children and pet dog sit on steps of home

First 24 Hours

Your new dog may have been used to living in an environment very different from yours. At the very least, there are all sorts of new smells and sounds in your home that may cause them to behave differently at first than they will once they settle in. Everything in your new dog’s life has just changed very abruptly. Be patient. Don’t panic if things don’t go perfectly on the first day. Understand that everyone in your house, including your newly-adopted dog, must now develop a new routine of living together.
Behaviors may be all over the map in the first 24 hours of living with your new dog. These may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Avoiding contact with family members
  • Overstimulation / hyperactivity
  • Housebreaking inconsistencies
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety

How You Can Cope

Dog-proof your home before picking up your new dog. Purchase all of the necessities (collar, leash, crate, chew toys, food, etc.) and have them ready for your dog’s arrival. Tidy your home and pick up anything in your house that is within eye-level of a curious dog.
Take the day off work and don’t make plans. The first day at home is not the time to catch a movie with friends or leave the house for an all-day soccer tournament with your child. Instead, take the day to help your dog transition to their new home by taking several walks to dissipate stress and excitement, teach them where to go to relieve themselves, and get them comfortable with the sights and smells of their new home.

Days 2-7

The first week at home is an adjustment period for both you and your new dog. Dogs still have residual stress. During this period, your dog may experience the following:

  • Shyness
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Excitement
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Excessive water drinking or binge eating
  • Housebreaking inconsistencies

How You Can Cope

Limit interactions with new people to only one or two dog-savvy friends. Although others may be excited to meet your new dog, remember that your dog is still trying to adjust to his or her new home, family, and schedule.
For the safety of your dog and others, wait at least a week before introducing your dog to other dogs outside of the household.
Don’t panic! This is a time of change and adjustment for everyone in your family. Take a deep breath and try to relax into a routine as much as possible.

Days 8-14

The second week with your new dog is the “Getting to Know You” phase. Your dog should not be experiencing as much stress, and their activity levels should be stabilizing. This is a good time to begin gently socializing your dog to new places and faces. And, it’s a great time to start some training!

How You Can Cope

Your dog is ready for training classes! Realize that your dog is not perfect, but positive reinforcement training classes may help you nip any behavior problems in the bud and build a bond between you and your dog.
Check out the Certification Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers website to find a trainer in your area (www.ccpdt.org)

Days 15-30 and Beyond

Weeks 3-6 are when behaviors related to lifestyle changes dissipate and your dog’s true personality emerges and develops. You may find that, as your dog becomes more comfortable with your family’s routine, some of the early behavioral issues they exhibited subside, while other, new challenges crop up. Many behaviors that present within this time period can be considered indicative of your dog’s personality and should be treated accordingly.

How You Can Cope

Establish rules and stick with them! Be consistent! If your dog isn’t allowed on the furniture, everyone in the family must enforce the rule so that your dog does not become confused.

Lots of exercise is a quick fix for most behavior problems. Playing fetch, going for walks, and puppy play dates can help you to enjoy your favorite television show without interruption.

Remember, every dog is an individual. Following these directions will help you recognize what is normal and what is not when transitioning your new dog into the family. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help before a behavior problem becomes overwhelming. The Certification Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers website will help you sniff out a trainer in your area!

Information and recommendations provided by the Certified Professional Dog Trainers of Tricked Out Training, which supports positive reinforcement training and behavior modification. To find a great trainer or behaviorist in your area, visit the Certification Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers’ website at www.ccpdt.org.