When you adopt a shelter dog or take in a dog you find on the street you should be applauded. So many sweet dogs are longing for a person or family to care for them the way they deserve. We hear and see on social media, stories on dogs leaving the shelter and almost immediately “melting” into the arms of their new owner. It’s heart touching to see that. But, unfortunately, that is the exception. Dogs who have been abandoned by their families who they loved, have been abused or have struggled to just survive on the street may have some baggage you need to unpack, and it may take some time.
Just today, we had a young man who returned a 10 week old puppy we placed with him (that’s Maya in the photo) after just 2 days. Why? Was she viscous or aggressive? No. She chewed up his dad’s shoe. That’s it. Puppies chew on things, everyone knows that. But his dad said, “Send her back!” To the young man’s credit, he was saddened by having to do this, but the fact is, people who adopt need to understand that time is required for any dog to adjust. And really chewing a shoe is the least of some challenges adopting families face.
So, how should you prepare and what might you expect? Often in the first few days, they feel very overwhelmed. They are confused and may have trouble showing their personality. They at times, won’t eat or drink and hide in a crate or under a table. It may take several weeks, to begin to settle into their new surroundings. Although, they are beginning to find a routine and starting to let their guard down, still some behavior issues may crop up. It’s possible that a few months are needed for them to feel completely comfortable and obtain a sense of trust and security with their new family.
Remember, some dogs were once part of a family that they loved. But they were betrayed and broken-hearted when they were turned into a refuge or left on the streets to fend for themselves. Can you imagine if a person was treated like that. There would be some serious trust issues. Many dogs feel that same way.
So the lesson when adopting, be patient. Give your new addition lots of love and understanding, but also space if it’s taking them some time to adjust. Don’t be quick to give up on them if things are challenging at first. When you adopt be ready to meet those challenges and give them a loving home each dog deserves.