Bringing a newly adopted dog into your home is truly a special moment. At first, many dogs may exhibit a bit of hesitation or uncertainty. However, in no time, most find comfort and begin to cherish their new surroundings and the love of their new family.
The first few weeks can be a bit of a roller-coaster for them, though. Adapting to a new environment, finding their place in a routine, and connecting with new faces can be daunting, more so if they've experienced the trauma of being left behind by previous owners. The memories of the shelter, a place often associated with stress, can also linger for some time.
Understanding these potential hurdles, it's imperative to pave a gentle path for their transition into their new home. To aid this process, here are some guidelines to help alleviate stress in newly adopted dogs:
Prioritize Establishing a Routine
A routine acts like an anchor for your newly adopted pet amidst the whirlpool of changes. While it's not necessary to micromanage their day, maintaining regularity in daily activities like meal times, walks, and bathroom breaks can be very reassuring. For example, aim to serve meals and head out for walks at consistent times daily. This predictability not only offers solace but also helps clear any uncertainties, making your pet more at ease in their new home.
Use Calming Techniques and Products
Just like humans, dogs can benefit from techniques and products designed to help them relax. Consider investing in a calming collar or dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP) diffusers. These products release substances that mimic the natural appeasing pheromones produced by mother dogs to comfort their puppies. Playing soft, calming music or sounds, especially during times when your dog might be alone, can also help reduce anxiety. Gentle petting, speaking in soft tones, and even massage can soothe a nervous dog. Take products like Chewers under consideration in this time. Chewers from Tome Dog Toys has an excellent selection of chewers for all sizes of digs.
Every dog wants to please its owner, but your new adopted friend might not yet know how. Praise and reward him generously for good behavior, and avoid yelling or using harsh tones. Instead of punishing him for undesirable behavior, redirect him and reward the behaviors you want to see.
For example, if he chews on a piece of furniture, instead of scolding him, give him a chew toy and praise him when he uses it. This not only encourages good behavior but helps build trust and understanding between you and your dog.
Adopting from shelters often means relying on the invaluable information that their staff provides. These institutions often conduct behavioral evaluations on animals, assessing traits like their compatibility with other pets, their off-leash behaviors, and tendencies like resource guarding. Heartbreakingly, many adoptions end prematurely, with pets returned to shelters due to owners neglecting or overlooking these recommendations, causing avoidable issues.
Gradually Introduce Alone Time
The early days in a new home can be a whirlwind of emotions for an adopted dog. Even if a pet doesn't have a history of separation anxiety, the new surroundings and absence of familiar faces can induce feelings of anxiety when left alone. To circumvent undue stress or unintentionally fostering separation anxiety, it's wise not to leave the dog on its own for extended durations right off the bat. Building trust is paramount, and this can't be expedited by leaving the dog in solitude.
Begin by letting your dog experience short stints of alone time, perhaps just a few minutes initially. Offering distractions like a Kong filled with treats or a chew toy can ease the separation. Upon returning, make sure your greetings are calm and low-key. The underlying message you want to send is clear: your departures are routine, and you'll always come back, eliminating any need for fretful anticipation.
If you believe your dog may have separation anxiety, it's wise to reach out to a professional trainer. While treatable, managing this condition requires nuanced techniques that those without experience might find challenging.