Do dogs adjust to new owners?

After three weeks, many dogs have settled and behave as though they feel like they are home now, but they really don’t fit into your routine until about three months have gone by.” Give it time. Remember, even if you’re doing everything right, a new adult dog may take a while to feel at home. But it’s worth the wait.

When we welcome a new puppy into our home, we often wonder how it will adjust to its new environment and how it will transition from one family to another. Dogs are incredibly loyal and social animals, so the question of how they adjust to new owners is a valid one. This blog post will explore this topic in greater depth, looking at the various factors that can influence a dog’s sense of attachment, transition, and overall adjustment to new owners. We’ll discuss the unique adaptations that a canine can make in order to adjust to a new home, family, and lifestyle, as well as some of the considerations that should be taken if you are considering adopting a dog from another family. We’ll also look at some of the ways that you can help a dog adjust to a new environment and owner. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of the process of introducing a pup to a new home and family, and some practical tips on how to make the transition go

Make It Easier In The Long Run By Keeping Your Routine

Dogs thrive on routine, so the sooner your new dog becomes accustomed to your home, the more at ease he’ll be. Your new dog will be more comfortable in your home if you:

  • Feeding at the same time every day
  • Going outside for potty breaks consistently
  • Going for your daily walk at the same time
  • Going to bed around the same time each night
  • This also includes any daily games or activities he’ll participate in, exercise time, cuddle time, etc. Once he becomes familiar with your routine and what is expected of him at any given time, he will feel more secure.

    It’s wonderful that so many owners want to spend as much time as they can with their new dog. However, make an effort to schedule at least some of your regular activities during those first few weeks to help your dog get used to what will eventually become his daily routine.

    Do dogs adjust to new owners?

    If you have other animals at home and your dog is already crate trained, you might want to think about leaving him in the crate while you go to work. If you have multiple pets in your home, don’t leave any dogs alone unattended until you are sure they get along well. Some dogs can become destructive or overly anxious when left alone.

    If you’re not sure how your new dog will react when left alone crating is a good way to have some peace of mind while you’re at work. Just remember to introduce your dog to their crate slowly, and make it a positive experience for them. When introduced properly a crate becomes a relaxing place for your dog.

    Give Your Dog Time to Decompress By Starting Slowly

    By going slowly for the first few days, you can aid your dog’s adjustment to your home. He will value some private, quiet time to get to know his new family and surroundings. Let him take his time looking around the house and yard.

    Some dogs take a while to get used to new situations, which can be draining for them. Remember that your dog may have just left a busy and stressful environment if you adopted him from a shelter. Your peaceful and comfortable home is probably the first place he’s had a peaceful night’s sleep in a while.

    Additionally, I wouldn’t advise overstimulating your dog the first few days. Allow your dog to investigate things on their own if they tend to be wary. By all means, show them as much affection as they find acceptable if they approach you looking for attention.

    Not all dogs bond immediately with a new owner — remember to not take it personally. They’re in a brand new environment getting used to all sorts of new sights, smells, and sounds, so it might take awhile for them to be able to calm down enough to focus on you and realize this is their new home. It can be a stressful time for your new dog so try to make them as comfortable as possible by keeping things calm and positive.

    Training needs and options vary depending on the dog and you

    jpegTraining isn’t something you do for one month or the length of one class; every interaction you have with your dog is a training oppportunity. Dogs are sponges; they are always learning something (kind of a “passive” training). It’s important that with every interaction, you are teaching him what you want him to do. Pat Miller writes: “Think in Terms of What You Want Your Dog to Do, Not What You Want Him Not to Do.”3 Dogs are always doing what works for them. If jumping on you gets him attention (and what kind of attention doesn’t matter: touching, yelling, whatever; it’s all attention), then your dog will repeat that behavior. If jumping doesn’t work for you but does for everyone else in the house, your dog will continue to jump on the family members who allow it. But if jumping never works, and everyone always ignores him, then he will try a different behavior instead. This is your oppoortunity to teach him that a Sit gets him all the love and attention4, and jumping makes you go away. Every interaction is like this, and if you are always cognizant of what you are teaching your dog, your dog will understand and comply with what you want more quickly. This means less stress and frustration for everybody.

    Heidi jumpIt helps to attend at least one training class, either to polish behavior or try a new game or sport or teach your dog a job. Here are some types of training classes your dog may benefit from:

  • How to behave in a house (some dogs have never lived in a home, or at least not in a really long time.)
  • Basic obedience
  • Agility, Treiball, Hiking, Rally Obedience, Tracking, etc.
  • CGC
  • Confidence Building
  • Reactive Dog class
  • There is no prescribed way to train your dog:

  • DIY: books, magazines, blog posts, videos, tv shows: There’s no reason you can’t train your dog at home. With the abundance of information available from well-known and respected trainers and behaviorists in print, on the internet or on TV, you can gather enough knowledge and ideas at least to teach your dog the basics. From Patricia McConnell (here or here or here) to Dog Star Daily to It’s Me or the Dog, the tools are out there to do a pretty good DIY job yourself. We strongly recommend you stick with methods that use positive, relationship-building techniques, such a lure and reward with treats, play training, or function reward-based training like BAT.
  • Group class: Group classes are a good option for dogs who already have a good behavior foundation or previous training experience. Dogs who do best in group class already have some amount of focus and self-control, can handle a moderate amount of distraction and are ready and eager to play this new game with you as long as you keep shoveling the treats in his mouth. These dogs also have owners who practice throughout the week between classes and had a pretty good idea before they started what they wanted to get out of the class. Group classes are not always as beneficial for dogs who have serious problems with barking, reactivity, aggression (perceived or real), or lack of self-control. These dogs often are mislabeled early on in class, can be ostracized by the trainer or other owners or even kicked out. Not great when you paid a lot of money and needed a lot of help.
  • Private training: Private lessons – either at a training facility or in your home – are meant to address specific issues and create a unique individual training plan for your dog. This is an excellent option for dogs with the above-mentioned serious problems, who have issues that a group class wouldn’t address, or when the owner doesn’t have time to devote to the length of a group class. The drawbacks of private lessons are they can be expensive and you are missing out on all the great interactions, distractions, and learning from others that come in a group class setting.
  • Whether you decide on a group class or private lessons, it’s often best to wait a few weeks and develop a relationship with your new dog before beginning. This will allow you time to figure out what you want to work on and to start developing your relationship so you will have some control over your dog in class. If your dog hasn’t bonded to you yet, he will be less likely to want to work for you when there’s other more interesting things around.

    jpeg-6We cannot stress enough the importance of choosing a trainer who shares your training philosophy. We have met too many people whose experiences were ruined either because they were uncomfortable with the trainer’s techniques and were unwilling or unable to carry them out, or because they did follow the trainer’s advice and it either didn’t work for them, hurt their relationship with their dog or had other long-lasting negative consequences. The most important thing is that your interactions – every interaction – works to build up and strengthen your bond with your dog. If someone tells you to do something with your dog you are not comfortable with, speak up. Ask for a different solution or sit out that particular activity. The best trainers are great problem solvers and should have multiple techniques to achieve the same results.

    Utilize any training resources or grant money that came with your dog, and keep in mind that assistance is available. DOL dogs come with a lifetime of support, a lifetime take-home plan, a free in-home visit within the first 60 days of adoption, and a free training class.


    How long does it take for a dog to adjust to a new owner?

    In those initial days, there are a few things we can do to support their adjustment and sense of security. But keep in mind that it typically takes a dog or puppy three weeks to feel at “home” and to reveal their true nature.

    Do dogs get sad when they change owners?

    Most dogs, at least initially, do not simply forget about their previous owners when they are adopted by new ones. A dog tends to grow more attached to a person the longer they live with them. Some dogs may initially appear a little depressed after being abruptly removed from their familiar surroundings.

    Do dogs miss their owners when they are rehomed?

    It’s common for dogs to feel sad when a person they’ve developed a bond with is gone. Dogs do understand the emotional feeling of missing someone who is no longer a part of their daily lives, even though they may not fully comprehend the extent of human absence.

    How long do dogs miss their owners?

    In other words, dogs can begin to miss their Owners as soon as they separate. Continue missing them after that for up to two hours. They reach a plateau of sadness after two hours until they see their Owner once more.