Dog adoption timeline

Dogs, Adopters, Dog behaviour


This post-adoption behaviour is surprisingly predictable for every adopted dog, from chihuahuas to mastiffs, no matter what their background is. It can be reassuring to know about key timings.

First week home 

Your dog needs time for his stress levels to drop – this takes at least 3 days with no new stressors. For the first week keep everything calm and quiet – no visitors (we know they will be keen!), do not take the dog to busy places, no really long walks, no vet or groomer visits. Avoid any known triggers that stress the dog – if you are told on adoption to walk to quiet places to avoid other dogs, for example, make sure that you do this! 

Second week home 

Gradually introduce more experiences – longer walks in slightly more exciting places, occasional visitors – but take things slowly and watch your dog for signs that he is not coping. Stressed body language includes lip licking, yawning, stiffness or tension and whale eye (where you can see a large white of the dog's pupil, pictured below). If you see the stress, let your dog get away from what is worrying them – it will help with building trust between you. 

Third and Fourth week home 

Initially your new dog will seem to be 'good' and you'll wonder what we have been talking about! This is because he lacks confidence in his new situation. In time – usually between 3 and 4 weeks – his behaviour will begin to change as his confidence grows. Don't experiment with your routine and rules – now more than ever is the time to be consistent and predictable for your dog. 

It is very important that you begin to work with an unwanted behaviour as soon as it appears, otherwise it will become entrenched and harder to modify. Contact our Rehoming and Behaviour teams for post-adoption advice if you need it – there is no charge. 
» Click here for our contact details.

First six months 

Your dog will become more and more confident and it is common for behaviour to continue to change over the first six months; sometimes even longer. Remember the basics – be consistent, be kind.

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