“K9” Academy Blog

We are going to do a series of posts to help you with settling re-homed or rescued dogs

So you’ve adopted a dog and its now day 4ish and stuff is happening and you just can’t deal with it, so you want to give the dog back to the rescue centre, or re-home it on further, or something like that. I get called in soooo may times at this re-homing point.
Folks, I am here to ask that you have a little patience with yourselves and your new dog. In rescue and the adoption phase (for those dogs lucky enough to be adopted) there are certain time frames that apply for the whole process of assimilation into a new home and family.     

First 24 - 48 hours: These are a write-off. It’s all very new to everyone and unless something really dramatic or horrible happens, should not count for much     

First 2 - 4 weeks: These are the “new environment” phase of the whole process. Usually in these weeks, you will see fairly guarded behaviours, slightly more subdued attitudes from the new animal, sometimes, the new animal will show a few “desperation” behaviours like resource guarding, startling easily, pacing, whining and such like. These are usually indicative of a level of insecurity and or anxiety about its new situation.    

4 - 6 months in: You will sometimes have a “regression” episode around about this time where the newest animal might appear to slip back into who it was at the shelter or in the first 2 weeks of arrival. Sometimes the new animal might suddenly appear to become grumpy and show more “punchy” behaviours. Sometimes the animal might appear to suddenly develop more “needy” behaviours.    

±1 year in Sometimes, at around about the year mark, the animal will have a “regression” moment (if you’re lucky, its first, but more often its second or third) again seeming to manifest less confident and / or preferable behaviours like resource guarding, territorial defensiveness, neediness etc.

1)  Firstly if your dog is a rescue and has possible abuse in its past please, please give it space!  As much as we want to   cuddle and love them and tell them it will all be fine that is very scary for dogs.  In fact dogs in general often don’t like to be cuddled.  Don’t invade your new pet’s space.  Sit quietly and talk gently while waiting for them to come to you. 

2)  Sudden movements, strong eye contact and loud voices are all VERY scary for your new dog.  Allow the dog to set the pace, offer some yummy food from your hand and if he/she does not take it allow it to fall on the floor and wait for the dog to decide if it’s safe to eat near you. I will often just allow a new dog to “hide” under my kitchen table while I am cooking; just moving around doing stuff while keeping up a gentle run of nonsense chatter allows the dog to settle around me. .

3)  Please make sure your family (especially children) and guests all allow the dog space too.  Please do not allow your kids to clamber over your dog or sleep in its bed. This is a very stressful change even though its way better than being in a kennel it’s still overwhelming and the dog needs some time and space to settle.  Having its own bed to go to and not being interrupted there helps them to settle faster.  It gives them a haven of their own where they can watch the family and settle from a safe place.

I will be writing more on this subject in the coming weeks to help you with problems but if you are battling please contact us for advice.  Email us at info@trainingk9.co.za or call us on 071 382 8772