Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Adjustment Period

If you foster or adopt from us, "The Adjustment Period" is a phrase you will hear over and over again. We drive it home.

If an adoption is going to fail, it is typically during the adjustment period so we do everything we can to educate or families about what to expect and what not to expect.

**Set your expectations low. People often set higher standards for a new dog than they do for their human counterparts.

**Your new dog will not know where the dog door is. He will not understand you only want him to go potty "on this side" of the yard unless you diligently works with him for weeks.

**Your new dog will not know his new name for a while.

**Do not let your new dog off leash. Would you go to an open field and let your child loose?

**Do not expect your new dog to know how to walk up and down stairs the first week you bring them home. They may not have ever seen them before. It is up to the human to patiently teach them.

**Your dog and your new dog may not become best friends over night. That's ok. Do you love everyone you meet right away?

**Your dog and your new dog may squabble over toys, affection and food. It's up to us humans to anticipate this and set up an environment for success.

**Your dog and new dog may have a fight. But they typically forgive and forget quickly..I wish as many humans did this.

**Don't expect your dog to understand the first night that they are not allowed on the couch or bed. That is something you have to teach them. Gently lure them off the couch with yummy treats. NEVER pull a collar. If you find yourself with a stubborn kiddo, gently leash and lead them off the couch/bed.

**Give your new dog time to adjust with just your immediate family for the first few days. As hard as it is not to show off your new pride and joy, don't bring the neighborhood over to meet him. Let him rest, relax and bond.

**Set realistic expectations for yourself. It is a lot to bring a new dog into your home. It may take a little bit to get used to the big clumsy boy who walks one inch behind you at all times. It make take a while to remember to put that bread away in a taller cabinet. It may take a while to get used to finding slobber on your ceiling in rooms you swear the dog has never entered!

**When frustrated, take a deep breath. Be patient. Be kind.

**Before threatening to return a dog to rescue, ask yourself "Have I given this new dog a change to succeed? I know what this dog has been through, am I setting realistic expectations? Have I tried, and I mean really tried?"

BDHPI is here to help any adopting family through any issue, no matter how big or small.

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