Adopted Dogs Adjusting to a New Home

Adopted Dogs Adjusting to a New Home

Helping Your Adopted Dog to Adjust

Your newly adopted dog will most likely experience some version of the following physical and behavioral issues outlined in this article. Tummy troubles are probably the most common physical affliction newly adopted dogs experience while trying to settle into their new surroundings. Although physical, these ailments are generally indicative of the anxiety and stress the dog is experiencing emotionally.

Diarrhea in Dogs

This is a common ailment newly adopted dogs will experience when adapting to a new home. It can be related to stress or dietary changes, and it can also be related to the after effects of anesthesia if your adopted dog was just spayed or neutered. If it lasts for more than a few days, however, you should consult a veterinarian to make sure it’s not a result of intestinal parasites. If you are able to get the same food your dog was eating in the shelter, this may help to alleviate this issue; by slowly adding the new food you want to feed to your dog to the food he was eating before, you can ease his digestive system into the adjustment. 

Vomiting in Dogs

 Some dogs, like people, can experience motion sickness. If you’re transporting your adopted dog home in a car there is a chance he may get car sick. If vomiting occurs once your new dog is at home it could be a result of stress, or again, the after effects of anesthesia. In any case, if the vomiting is excessive you should seek medical guidance.

Loss of Appetite in Dogs

Stress induced anorexia isn’t uncommon in newly adopted dogs, especially if they’re shy and need some extra time to warm up to their surroundings. However, loss of appetite can also be a symptom of serious medical issues, especially if your adopted dog recently underwent surgery. So how do you tell the difference? If your new dog will eat higher value foods like a piece of chicken or scrap of bacon, then it’s most likely stress related. Dogs often need some time to transition from one food to another and may initially refuse to eat, but they won’t starve themselves. As long as everything is medically sound, your adopted dog will grow accustomed to his new diet.

In addition to these physical manifestations of anxiety or stress, your newly adopted dog may also be exhibiting some behavioral issues while adjusting to home life. It’s typical for your new dog to be a bit docile before becoming more comfortable with you and his new environment. Certain behaviors may even make you question your decision to adopt. But rest assured that these behaviors are normal. Try not to take it personally if your adopted dog is exhibiting anxiety or acting aloof. 

Anxiety, Crying, and Destruction in Dogs

 Your adopted dog might cry during the night for the first few nights. If you’ve adopted a puppy it’s safe to say he will cry during the night. If you’re crating a dog for the first time he is going to want to get out and be with you. Ideally, you’ll have had some time earlier in the day to get your adopted dog introduced to his crate. By putting treats and toys in the crate it becomes a safe place rather then a place of punishment. Having a safe place of their own to retreat to when they are feeling overwhelmed is invaluable to adoptive dogs. If you’re not crating but rather restricting the areas of your home that are accessible to your new dog, you may have similar issues. You should intermittently check on your new dog to ensure that he is not being destructive as a result of his anxiety. Some dogs may become so anxious that they’re willing to sacrifice their bodies to escape a crate, baby gate, or door. Over time you and your dog will settle into a routine that should help alleviate this initial anxiety. If these behaviors continue, however, you may have adopted a dog with separation anxiety, in which case you’ll need to do more extensive behavior modification training and management.

Acting Distant in Dogs

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs bond to their new owners immediately. Your adopted dog may take from a few days to a week to come around to you. You may have to wait a bit before your dog becomes a lap dog — and he may never be that type. In the meantime, be okay with sitting next to your new dog on the couch. That doesn’t mean your new dog’s not cuddly; it just means they need some time to adjust to their new surroundings and you. Let your dog come to you when he is ready.

In a similar vein, your adopted dog may not want to play with toys right away. Some adopted dogs have never lived in a home before; everything is new, from the smell and feel of a carpet to the look and sound of a dishwasher. If your adopted dog has lived in a home before, or is younger, he may adjust much quicker than a dog that previously lived outside or in unfortunate circumstances. Let him explore and adjust first. There will be plenty of time to play once your new dog is comfortable in his new home.

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