Dear Miss Behavin’: I adopted my new dog Hank from the shelter this weekend and I’m so happy! The only problem is, he doesn’t seem to be settling into very quickly. How can I help him be more comfortable with us?
Congratulations on the new family member! Try not to take it personally if Hank doesn’t seem so sure about his new home or family just yet. Remember that he’s still figuring out where he is and what’s going on.
One thing to consider is the “Rule of Threes.” In his first three days at home, Hank is just learning to navigate the space and meeting family members. He might be used to seeing different faces come and go, so he won’t know you’re going to keep coming back to him. It’s wise to give Hank a few days to decompress and just get to know you before introducing him to all the extended family and friends. Lots of people or busy places can be overwhelming for any dog and won’t help him feel more confident.
After three weeks or so, Hank will likely realize he’s actually living with you! He’ll begin to learn the routine and know what to expect from day to day. These first weeks are the perfect time to set the house rules and set him up for success. If you don’t want Hank on the furniture later, invest in a cozy dog bed so he can still be close to you. If you don’t want him begging while you eat dinner, try feeding him dinner in a crate or ex-pen as you sit down to eat, etc. If Hank develops bad habits you don’t anticipate, seek the help of a humane, science-based professional trainer.
Once three months pass, Hank will almost certainly know that he’s not going anywhere and he’ll be living happily ever after with you. Keep up the good work and Hank will repay you in endless love!