Two Week Acclimation Period
A Guide to Introducing a New Dog to Your Home:
Congratulations on adopting your new dog! It is exciting to save a dog’s life and welcome him into your home. We hope that your new addition will be with you for a long time and enhance your life. Adopting a dog is a big commitment and an important decision. To give your dog the best opportunity to succeed in his new home, we recommend giving him time to decompress from the stressful situations that he may have experienced before becoming a part of your family. Your new dog may be stressed by moving into another home, so we recommend giving him two weeks to adjust to your family and his new environment.
We want your dog to start the journey of his new life in a safe and predictable environment. While it is understandable to want to take your new dog everywhere with you and introduce him to dogs and people, it can be confusing and stressful for him. By controlling his environment and limiting his exposure to outside stressors, you give him time to get accustomed to his new life in a safe, slow way. Also, by restricting his interactions to his new family, he gets to learn his new home, the relationships that exist within it, and where he fits in: he starts to look to you for guidance rather than having to figure it out on his own. That means you will have a dog that is less nervous and more confident!
The following are our suggestions on how to implement a two-week acclimation period so that your dog has a smooth transition and the best chance of succeeding in his new home:
Have a crate set up in a room by itself (if possible) so that when it’s time to put your dog in the crate, you are ready. The crate is your dog’s safe place, and his place to sleep and decompress.
Making the crate a positive experience must begin on the first day. (See Crate Training section below)
During the acclimation period, if your dog is not in his crate he should have a leash on (including when he is inside). This is a great way to guide your dog while you are working on basic training and behavior in their new home. You can either hold the leash or have the leash drag on the ground so that you can quickly pick it up if necessary. If you keep him on leash for the two-week acclimation period, you can teach him the rules of his new home (no jumping on guests or counters, for example).
When your dog is out of the crate, his time should be spent on exercising, training, and relaxing with you- all of which helps build your bond. You can teach your dog to sit, stay, lie down, and to come when called. Don't forget- after each training session, give your dog some time to rest so he can process all the exciting new things he has learned.
Be sure to praise your dog when he has shown positive behaviors and is exhibiting an understanding of the house rules such as no jumping when someone approaches. Getting praise for good behavior will make him want to repeat it! Another way to reinforce good behavior and begin building your bond is to let your dog come to you instead of forcing affection on him when he might not be ready.
If you have another dog, do not introduce them until the two-week acclimation is over. This gives the dogs time to get used to new sounds and smells in the home (making the introduction easier) and also is a good practice for quarantining your new dog to ensure he is healthy before introducing him to your other dog(s).
Think of the two-week acclimation period as a way to create a new beginning for your dog. If done properly, it will give him time to get accustomed to his new family and home at his own pace, it will establish you as the leader, and it will lower his stress and anxiety. It is one of the best things you can do for your new dog’s current and future well-being. When you are tempted to give in, remember that the acclimation period is temporary, but the results will be a long lasting positive relationship between you and your new dog!