As exciting as it is to introduce a new dog to your home, please understand that most rescue dogs require time to adjust before they show their true personality.
While you may have been preparing for their arrival several weeks or months in advance, they have no idea what's going on and often don't understand why they're no longer with their rescuers.
The 3-3-3 rule (pictured) is a general guideline to help new adopters understand what their rescue dog may be going through when they're brought home.
We asked our adopters to share advice they wish they had known before adopting their rescue dog, as well as the obstacles they faced when bringing their pup home. Here are a few things they shared:
When I brought Pax home to meet the other two there was really no problem. I don't know if it's because Sammie and Buca are both females and Pax (fka Boscoe ) a male. They all got along really well. When I brought Teagan home, the poop hit the fan with B uca. She was not a happy camper. I can remember thinking what the hell have I done. It took her about two to three weeks to tolerate Teagan with a lot of supervision and patience on my part. Now they chase each other in the backyard and have become best of friends. All 4 still have their moments as with any siblings. Teagan can be a brat!!! It took A LOT of patience, structure and routine. It's an adjustment period for everyone 4 legged and 2 legged with no time frame.
Every dog is different, has it's own quirks, it's own history..and probably not a good one. Let them adjust in their own time. Comfort them, reassure them. I didn't know my Wrigley could bark for a couple of weeks...scared me when he let one fly!! Now I can't shut him up 😆. Wrigley was scared to death of men for a long time. Most important ALWAYS keep them on a leash when outside in an unsecured area. Most are runners!!! Patience is really a virtue with a new rescue BUT oh so worth it 💗
I wish I had more information on rescuing before I adopted Layla (Buffalo2018). I would never change my mind as I love this girl more than anything but I didn’t even think about possible peculiar behaviors. She was absolutely terrified of men, esp my husband. She would run the other way from him, hide behind things or go into her crate. It took about 1 year for her to let him give her a treat or take her for a walk. Very slowly she has come a long way. She will now jump on the bed and let him rub her head. But there are still times when she avoids him and walks around something to stay away. It’s almost like episodes of PTSD. We have never pushed her to interact with my husband. It has just slowly evolved. The other thing that concerned me in the beginning was that she didn’t bark. The first time she barked was 3 weeks after she came home. I asked for advice on our website and was told it was not uncommon for them to make no sound. I never knew that. Those were 2 of my concerns. As you can see this precious girl is the love of my life❤️🐾
We brought Landon home from Plymouth Meeting ‘18 during a snowstorm. The first couple of days there were accidents as he got used to going out. The snow didn’t help and to this day Landon still won’t go on the wet grass 😂. We were lucky because our other dog is very chill and tolerated Landon from the very beginning. We made sure especially in the beginning that our affection was equal.
The hardest part was meal time. Jack inhales his food, and Landon is a grazer. We had to stand there to keep Jack away from Landon’s food. Eventually we found that adding a little cheese sprinkle to Landon’s food made him more excited. He literally leaps in the air now.
This picture was taken Landon’s first night with us.
Just be patient with your pup and yourself! I remember the first couple of days with Bean, I broke down thinking I wasn’t a good Mom and my sister told me it’s only been a couple of days and it will be fine. She was right and before you know it you are both in a groove 😊
I was forewarned about Dexter having issues with other male dogs so I went in knowing it wouldn’t be an entirely smooth transition, but he decided he was going to be dominant to my very dominant female dog. They looked like two sumo wrestlers upon their first meeting 😬. I kept intervening when they would get into it, and looking back my frantic energy just escalated things (although there were a couple times I needed to intervene or it would have meant a vet visit). But once I let them figure it out (aka Sonny runs things), it all worked out. They still have their moments when Dexter pushes boundaries, but doesn’t every family have dysfunction 🤷🏻♀️? We started it all over again when my brother died and I took his (male) dog, but I knew to let them figure it out and they did...with no blood loss. As everyone as mentioned...time and patience. (Dexter in the middle so the other two can keep him in check ☺️).
Patience patience patience. They want to please and it just takes them time to figure out what you want. Also, let them initiate affection at first.
My biggest hurdle with Tessie was that she seemed to like everyone but my dad. She would bark and growl at him whenever he came over, especially when he came near me. He was literally the only person she did that with and it broke his heart because he was so excited to know her. (On the live stream, he posted “That’s my grand dog!” when she was handed to me!)
So, he came to a couple of her obedience classes and the trainer worked with him on his posture and what he could do to make her feel comfortable. The best solution the trainer offered was to have special “grandpa treats” (freeze-dried chicken livers) that only he would give her. It must have worked because now they are BFFs and adore each other!
So my advice would be to work with a trainer, even if your pup is already housebroken and knows some commands (Like Tessie) and you don’t think you need to. It helps you bond with the dog and the trainer can identify and help solve some underlying issues you may not have initially noticed. And they are also great at training people, not just dogs. 😄
I must be very lucky when Lacy (Oct 2016) came into my home. I wanted to get a friend for Lolly since she can be a bit hyper. Lolly welcomed Lacy with open paws 🐾. Having one dog already helped with the daily routines. First week in a crate at night by my bed and after that was history where I shared my bed with 2 🐶🐶 May have had 5 accidents in the beginning, but smooth sailing from there. Don’t want to brag, but Lacy is the perfect angel and has stolen my heart ♥️ I have the best dogs ever ❤️❤️ Overall, pairs are my advice 😉😍
We were very lucky. Chauncey was very quiet and laid back. He slowly started to come out of his shell. 2 1/2 years later with allergies under control he is like a goofy wild man. From the moment Pearl was put in our arms, it was like she had been there since birth. Came home it was like they were meant for each other. We know the love story. In the picture they had met 1 hour before. No adjustment problems for either. Food not an issue because they are both grazers, so we fill up bowls for the day. We gave them time to just learn the house, routine etc.
I’ve adopted four dogs from Tracy each had different needs when it arrived. One arrived terrified and needed us to back away, one was immediately comfortable and wanted attention, the other two were somewhere in between. One needed lots of exercise and benefited from long walks, one was overwhelmed by being exposed to new territory and needed to be kept close to home, the other two were fine either way. Two were comforted by other dogs and joined the pack without incident, one was indifferent to the others, and one was afraid of the others and needed to be separated initially and introduced carefully. One was a runner and needed to be watched very closely, another has separation anxiety and wouldn’t leave leave my side. One found comfort in a crate, one is terrified by being confined so a crate was out of the question. One had to be separated from the others during meals for a year to avoid conflict, another moved in and respected boundaries without intervention. My advice would be to find out as much as you can about your dog from the people who have been caring for him/her, and study the dog yourself when it arrives. Based on good individual information you will be able to make good decisions and help the dog adjust and stay safe during the adjustment. Plan on spending time observing and helping the dog adjust, trust that the dog wants to please, help him/her understand what you want and understand it will take him/her time to figure it out, find out what he/she enjoys and is comforted by and allow it if you can, avoid situations that stress the dog as much as you can, address any medical needs the rescue identified, and keep your eye out for others. And, above all, enjoy getting to know each other and becoming friends.
I think about their perspective...must be overload at first for them. I actually try to be real chill the first week. ❤️❤️ and of course roasted chicken
This is Peggy ( PM 9/19). Aggressive toward other dogs, people,cats. Terrified of loud noises. Can’t be left alone out of her crate as she gets up on tables and counters. But... when it’s just us.. the most loving dog ever. We got a trainer to help us with the major problems. We have made progress. We will be working on thing probably forever. But.. we love her. We are committed to her. She is so darn cute.
Patience, patience, schedules... and for any trouble that manifests after the first few weeks... get professional training advise. Also be prepared. The pup you get may not be the dog you think it was going be... but it will be no less wonderful.
Lee Ann C.
Introduce other pets slowly. I’ve found with both my adopted dogs as well as fosters that a crate placed where the new dog can see and hear us (we use a corner in the family/kitchen rooms) is very useful. The new guy feels safe but not overwhelmed. I feed and give treats in the crate. Along with a toy or two. Leash or supervision when out of crate. Let him/her decide when to accept cuddles etc. lots lots patience with potty training. Even the adult dogs don’t know where to potty in new home. Patience. Tolerance. Love. And treats of course.
Donna & Addi
Patience, humor, friends with rescue stories and carpet cleaner! All was fabulous at Gotcha Day. The first night? Our double dipper duo did not make a peep. The next day? Rosita didn’t pee for 21 hours. Bandido was scared of everyone. They didn’t know how to play with toys. We found Rosita walking on the kitchen table. Bandido didn’t bark for three weeks. Everyone was posting about how wonderful things were going and here we were, with a dog on the table and a dog with a seemingly broken spirit and broken teeth. Thank goodness for friends with rescue experience who assured us we and our pups were completely “normal!”
It took two years before Rosita sat on my lap. She still has a mind of her own—she still hops up on the kitchen table if given the chance, poops in the house and plays in the closet. I love her sassiness! Bandido took a year to decide people aren’t so bad. She is loyal beyond compare, has much to say and loves her toys. They are amazing, smart, hilarious... and quirky! In other words, they are perfect, just as they are. Thank you, Tracy
Create a strict routine so they know what to expect-walks, food and even cuddle time at the same time each day. That helped Kara get her confidence as she knew what to expect. My other advice-buy a locking garbage can-Eden had never been in a house before and needed to learn basic manners. I left it behind when we moved but Eden would not have survived her first six months if I had not made that purchase.
I think that the three things to remember are Love, Patience, and Acceptance. We knew that Natalie was coming to us as an extremely shy, often frightened, little dog. For the first several weeks she literally never walked around on her own. We carried her from room to room. We showered her with love and she loved to cuddle, but we even had to bring food and water dishes to her in order for her to eat or drink. If someone came to our house, she was extremely frightened. She hid in my arms the entire time.. On walks I had to pick her up if any humans approached us.. We would come home from work sometimes and find her upset in her cozy much-loved crate next to our other calm and happy dogs, because a delivery person had rung our doorbell while we were at work. Through all of this, she was steadfast and calm in her love and trust for us. Her confidence with us, and in us, grew steadily. Three years later, I can assure you that this sweet girl adores us, has silly playful moments, loves her doggy siblings, and is my little shadow and doggy soul mate.
Does she still fear strangers? Yes. Does she still need picked up and cuddled when we hike and meet others on the trail? Yes. Would she ever play in a doggy park, run an agility course, go to doggy day care, chase and retrieve a ball? No...no...no...and no. Someone said to me once, "Wow, you've had her two years now and she's still shy".. Natalie isn't "still" shy.. Natalie IS shy. It's who she is, and I wouldn't have her any other way than the shy, tender hearted little soul she is. Don't try to "fix " things that can't or don't need to be fixed. In adopting rescues, we don't know what circumstances helped to shape them before coming to us. Love your dog, let them become confident in loving and trusting you, and accept all of their perfect imperfections ❤. These dogs are SO resilient in their ability to continue to love despite what they've been through. All they ask is that we love them in return.
Zoey, on the other hand, strolled in on the first day like, "Here I am, people!"...and she has been making us laugh ever since. No adjustment time whatsoever...lol...😄
I forgot how hard house breaking is 😂 but all you need is to be patient and know that every mess is worth it. I also wish someone would have told me about pet insurance earlier. I knew about it..kind of..but just assumed it was a scam. It's the best thing I've ever done for my babies. We had one medical emergency that would have cost us $5k out of pocket.
Time, patience and routine, especially since a lot of the dogs are terriers. Terriers crave routine, also, not every rescue is the same. Peach fit into our home like she belonged here but it was way more difficult with our first rescue. He needed a daily routine so he knew what to expect. The number one thing I ask of everyone - realize the difficult life that came before and be patient! These dogs have likely had humans in their past that let them down, be the one that doesn't. It isn't going to be super awesome right away, but give it time and it will be the best experience!