After Adoption - The Adjustment Period

  • Meet with your vet to ensure your adopted pet doesn't miss any doses of heartworm or flea/tick prevention. Some dogs will need additional booster vaccines and/or deworming. Corner of Kindness will not pay vet bills after adoption.

    • If your dog needs continuing medication we suggest ordering through 1-800-PetMeds to save money.

      • For example: With a vet's prescription, you can save on Apoquel at 1-800-PetMeds

 

  • While Corner of Kindness foster families do the best they can to prepare the dog for another transition, the majority of our dogs will have an adjustment period and adopters should expect that their new dog will need some time to adjust to its new family including resident pets, new schedule, new home environment, new/different rules, and new communication style. Major life changes such as moving to a new home with new people and animals impose significant stress on dogs whether they are rescue dogs or not. 

 

  • We expect that anyone who adopts one of our dogs is willing to work through the usual issues that arise during the adjustment period and give the dog ample time to settle in. The ample amount of time depends on the dog, some dogs may settle in the first day, while our shy or fearful dogs might take several months to a year! 

 

  • Anytime the dogs routine is significantly changed, such as a change in home, addition of a new family member or pet, change in family dynamics, etc. the dog needs time to adjust. During this adjustment period, the new dog may exhibit behavior that it will not otherwise exhibit after it adjusts to its new life. This may include separation anxiety, housetraining accidents, efforts to escape including bolting out the door, attempting to avoid interactions with new owners, and excessive barking, grouchiness in general. Upset stomach is also very common. Some dogs may show no signs of adjusting, dogs are individuals. 

  • Aggression is fear based. We are happy to help you with any training tips and tricks for little things but if there is an issue with aggression we will give you recommendations to a trainer/behaviorist. Keep in mind that most of us are dog lovers not dog trainers, which is why when there is an issue related to aggression we need to refer you to a professional… this is in the best interest of you, your new dog, and us as foster parents/volunteers. Even having had dogs for years does not mean that we can solve all, or even many, behavior problems. In addition, a dog may display behaviors with a soft or inexperienced owner that it will not display with an owner more proficient at providing leadership. We do our best to predict how they will act, but just like humans, dogs act differently in different environments. For example at work you likely don't cuss or jump around, but at the bar on a Friday night you might act differently; a change in settings leads to a change in behavior for dogs, just like it does for us humans. 

  • If the dog has become a safety issue we will need to assess if we can place back in foster care or not. Unfortunately, sometimes a dogs behavior is so severe after adoption that we can not risk putting the dog back into an average foster family home (all of our foster homes have other animals and most have young children) and either need significantly more time to find a solution or for a spot in one of our most experienced foster homes to open up so they can work with our trainers to give the dog the best chance of success, or, in worst case scenarios, the dog may no longer be a candidate for foster care and need to be euthanized.

  • We recommend using Your Dog's Best Friend (ydbf.org) for behavioral issues. 

  • Your new dog does not know that you are its new family yet. All he/she knows is that once again he/she is in a different environment, with different smells, different noises, different people who treat him/her in different way, including giving him/her different commands and allowing different behaviors, feed differently and maybe have other animals or children to adjust to. Your dog needs TIME to do just that, adjust to everything new in its life. All these new things and your expectations are going to cause your dog some initial stress until it adjusts to its new life.

  • This is one description of what your new dog's recent background might have been like. "Imagine being air-dropped, alone, into a strange country where nothing is familiar, you do not know anyone, the rules of acceptable behavior have changed and you cannot speak the language. It would be confusing, if not downright scary and you would be bound to offend a few people before you got the hang of things. This is probably similar to how your new Rescue Dog is going to feel once they reach your home. As far as she/he knows, you are just another part of the parade of people who have passed through his life lately and your home is just another stopover.*

  • The rescue dog you are adopting has been through a difficult journey that started when his family gave him up or he became lost. He may have been under stress or neglected in his past life or frightened by being homeless. His first stop was likely at a loud and scary animal shelter. In the process of getting rescued, he was handled, bathed and petted by a sea of strangers. Next, he was placed in one or more of our foster homes or a boarding kennels- another new environment with more happy strangers and another new routine. He has, now, at long last found a new person of his own although he does not know or understand it yet."*

*These two paragraphs were modified and used courtesy of Golden Opportunities Golden Retriever Rescue of Illinois, Inc.

  • Thus, it is best if you could give your new dog three or more days with very little demands, including not talking to her, petting her, or doing anything which adds more stress to her while she adjusts. It is best to keep him/her adequately and completely supervised by using a crate, dog kennel, or tying him/her to a piece of furniture in your vicinity, taking him/her on walks for an appropriate amount of exercise and taking him/her outside at appropriate times while otherwise ignoring  for several days until she/he starts getting used to the new life and schedule. Walks may be the best form of exercise at least initially because he/she may not want to play ball or other games until adjusted to the new environment.

  • One of the best things you can do for your dog, yourself, and other pets if you have them, is carefully monitor for the first weeks. Dogs will not be able to develop bad habits such as digging, destroying your property, chasing your cats (if you have them), have housetraining accidents or similar, if appropriately monitored. You can use a combination of a crate, covered dog kennel, or tying him/her to a piece of furniture in your vicinity or to your waist. When you think she/he is adjusting to new life, you can start adding short free roam periods, perhaps letting her drag a leash to give you some control if needed (if she is completely supervised so the leash does not get caught in something and choke her) and see how she does with additional freedom. You can gradually extend her free times and include times she is unattended such as when you walk to get your mail. If all goes well you can extend the unsupervised time to the periods of time she will eventually be left alone. Some dogs will never be able to be left out for long periods of time, and that's okay- the crate is a safe place. 

  • Another thing you can do to speed up the adjustment process is to establish a consistent routine so your dog knows what to expect. This includes how many times a day you feed him, how many times a day you exercise him, when you put him to bed and when you let him outside. Part of the reason your dog experiences stress in the adjustment period is he does not know what to expect. A consistent routine can give him security and help him adjust quicker.

  • Keep in mind that most of us are dog lovers not dog trainers. Even having had dogs for years does not mean that we can solve all, or even many, behavior problems. In addition, a dog may display behaviors with a soft or inexperienced owner that it will not display with an owner more proficient at providing leadership. Also, there is a wide range of dog temperaments from easy, calm, social, to dominant, willful and confident. Some temperaments are much more difficult to handle than others. It is often helpful if the entire family can attend one or more obedience courses during which you will develop a bond with your dog and find out ways to manage any undesirable behaviors you may observe. The earlier you effectively correct undesirable behaviors the easier it is to stop them.