We understand that getting a new dog is the most exciting thing ever. How can it not be? You've fallen in love, you popped the question and your new dog accepted, the shelter did the ceremony and now you're home and ready for your happily ever after. Right?
Right! But while it is the best decision you've made in a long, long time there's always an adjustment period and some bumps on the road. We've made five easy posters to help talk you through the first few weeks.
1) 'He was great at the shelter but now he's frightened of me!'
The Real Deal: Two weeks ago I was on the street/ at my old house/ tied to a tree/ lovingly encased on my old owners lap. Then I was found/the house was sold/I was rescued/my owner passed and I was brought to the shelter. Now I'm here. As you can imagine, I have absolutely no idea what's going on. I'm not scared of you, I'm just trying to figure out this latest shift in circumstances and locale and maybe I've hunkered down under the sofa while I make sense of everything. The bad news? No one speaks enough dog to fill me in on the chain of events. The good news? I still think you're awesome. Give me a few days, hang out and watch TV, ignore me or pass me some hot dogs and I'll be just fine.
2) "She ate the legs off my sofa and peed in my slipper!"
The Skinny: I'm a baby. Bowel control, bladder control - these muscles are still gearing up so physically I'm not capable of holding it for long. Additionally I've got teeth falling out and teeth growing in and my mouth is just a big old itchy, ouchy mess right now and the only thing that makes it feel better is gnawing on something. I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm not a bad puppy, I'm just a baby. When we met and our eyes locked and the magic happened the counselors told you a bit about this but we were both so starstruck it might not have sunk in. The good news is I'll outgrow this and we'll figure things out together. The bad news? I wouldn't invest in really nice slippers for a bit. But please, be reasonable. You wouldn't expect a six year old child to get a PhD so don't expect me to be able to get the bathroom stuff down and figure out house rules before I'm five months old. I am developing.
3) "He's chasing the cat!"
The Low-Down: Even if I've seen cats before, I haven't seen THAT cat. And maybe that cat hasn't seen a dog. Us dogs, we tend to take cats on a cat-by-cat basis. At the very least, I'm going to want to do a cat inspection before I make up my mind and believe me, your cat is not up for that happen two minutes after I walked in the door. Plus I'm totally amped up from everything being so completely totally brand new that I probably forgot my cat manners. The good news? We're going to get over this but it's not going to happen overnight. The Adoption Counselor gave you some good advice about doing a slow intro with the two of us. That advice? REALLY good advice. If you forgot it you can always call them. Plenty of dogs and cats are good pals and live together just fine. We probably will, too, but please be reasonable and don't expect me to be totally blasé about it off the bat. And your cat having his noise out of joint about this? Totally normal and he'll get over it, too.
4) "She purposely defiled my beloved gladiolas/shed on the sofa/touched the one thing I didn't want her to!"
The Scoop: What's a gladiola? And how come I can sit on that thing but not on this thing? I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just super confused right now. Maybe in my old life no one paid attention to where I peed or I always slept on the sofa. There's a new lay of the land here and I'm trying to get my mind around it. I'm not trying to get you peeved or make a statement about your landscaping/decorating choices. I just needed to use the Little Doggies Room or take a nap and I honestly didn't know. While I figure this out maybe we should block off those gladiolas and put something on the sofa so I get used to the idea that there are no-go zones. It's nothing personal, I swear. When you're not happy, I'm probably not going to be happy so it behooves me to learn the rules.
5) "He's been bouncing off the walls since I brought him home!"
The Intel: Ermaghawd is that a yard! I haven't had open access to a yard in weeks! I mean, I went out for walks with volunteers a lot but open access! Holy wowzers! Oh wow, the kitchen! Look, the floor is slippery - I can sliiiiiiiide! And there's the living room! And here's the kitchen again! It's all so new and exciting! Because I'm really, really excited and still burning off some pent up energy and maybe a bit stressed I can't slow down! There was a lot of downtime at the shelter and so I've got a lot to burn off. Plus I don't know the schedule here yet so until I know exercise is something that comes regularly I'm going to binge on it. You know what would be great for helping me calm down a bit? Wearing me out. It's not going to be like this every single day of my life but until I get settled in, scheduling me for a good hard hour of fetch might be a good idea. Remember all those hiking trails you wanted to hit? This would be a fantastic time to start knocking them out. Once the excitement wears off I'll be calmer but I might be a little over-exuberant while we work this out.
To Sum Up: The overriding theme here is patience, realistic expectations and adjustment time. Keep in mind the first few weeks are always difficult. Be prepared to offer some guidance and laugh some things off. Keep in mind, too, if you adopt from us you're always welcome to call our adoption department for some advice. Everything will be fine, trust us. Just take a deep breath and play with your new pooch.