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Adjustment Period


There will be an adjustment period when you first bring your dog home. If you go into this expecting there to be a long adjustment period,
you will be prepared to NOT take it personally. And what a bonus if your dog takes almost no time at all to adjust!

New situations are stressful to many dogs...and a stressed dog can act different than he normally would. The dog's behavior during the adjustment period generally has nothing to do with how well a dog likes you. It's about the dog learning he can TRUST you. Be prepared for this. It's normal. And it's nothing personal.

In most cases, these dogs have been abandoned, ignored by their previous owners, or turned in to a shelter, having little interaction with someone who cares about them. Others, we are amazed that no one came to look for them in the shelter! Most are extremely receptive to attention, but new situations are stressful, and this is why we suggest you read over this page carefully to get some idea of what can happen and some ideas of what might help the dog get adjusted sooner.

Please ask how long it took the dog to adjust in the foster home. This will give you a good indication of how long it may take them to adjust in your home. Adjustment periods can range from hours or days to weeks or even months.Keep in mind the adjustment period varies from dog to dog and situation to situation. It could take longer or go more quickly than it did for the foster.

Adjustment Behaviors and Timeframes

These depend on numerous variables including the following (keep in mind this list is not all-inclusive...every dog is a little different):

Adjustment behaviors vary from dog to dog, and are not always negative or even noticeable at the time. In fact, for many dogs, you will really not even perceive the change; rather, it will gradually get more comfortable in it's new surrounding and it's behavior will gradually change as a result.

So what kind of things can you expect? Chances are that for the first week or two, they will either be on their very best behavior or will revert back to behaviors they have prior to being with us. Here's a short and not inclusive list. After all, dogs are as individual as humans. For most any of these, in a short time your dog will have started to feel more comfortable and will show more of his normal self.

Symptoms of Stress Often Seen During Adjustment Periods

Most of us dog lovers are NOT dog trainers

Keep in mind that your family's interaction with the dog can cause it to display behaviors that it may not have displayed in it's previous home(s), including the foster home. So if the dog always lived with someone who was very proficient at dog training and behavior and you are not as well-informed on that subject, the dog may begin to show behaviors aimed at trying to play leader of the pack. Likewise, if the first family was the less-informed one and you have trained dogs for years, you may not see any of the negative behaviors a previous family may have reported.

In addition, having dogs for years does not equate to being well-informed on dog behavior and training issues. Many people have owned dogs for years and have been very fortunate in the individual dog(s) they owned. They may have never dealt with a dog that needed a calm, firm hand to handle it's confident and maybe even dominant temperament.

It's important to understand that these issues are normal and to ask for help when you need it. Most of us are not provided with training or teachings on how to interpret dog behavior and handle dog training issues. We learn as we go along. And if we have an easy dog, we may have had to learn much less than a family who had Cujo or Marmaduke living with them. Spending some time taking an obedience class or two can really help to improve you and your dog's relationship. Include the entire family if possible!

Helping your dog past the adjustment stage

While there is no specific formula for determining how each dog will behave during it's adjustment period or how long that adjustment period will last, the good news is that there are things you can do to help your dog adjust! So, what can you do? Here's the way to start.

One adopter's story:

I adopted a Shepherd/pit bull mix almost 3 years ago and a couple of months later brought her a brother home...he is a lab mix. Both dogs were about 6 months old when we got them from the Humane Society. I read about the struggles that some have with their new dogs and I think...what would you have done if you had gotten our lab mix???

He had separation anxiety for the first year we had him. It was a struggle. He chewed furniture...even chewed a hole in the wall!!! We could not crate him because he would literally tip it over as he howled. I used to call the behavior hotline and ask for help all the time. But giving him up was NEVER an option.

We have a fenced yard and put a doggy door in to allow him to go in and out so he didn't feel trapped. He has turned into an amazing dog and has left his issues behind. He crawls in my husbands lap like he weighs 5 lbs instead of 85...big lap dog. If we had given up on him, I can only imagine what would have become of him. Instead, he is loved and safe.

Everyone that brings a dog home needs to understand that, like your kids, you never know what you're gonna get. Be prepared to help them work through their struggles. It's worth it in the end.

Last Update : 11/02/2013
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