Your dog may be acting weird when you bring him back home from the shelter. This is probably because he is feeling stressed in a new environment with unfamiliar smell, sight, and people around him. He might not trust you and distance himself from you or be clingy to you as you are the only person he knows.
If this is the first time that you own a dog, do not be “alarm” if you find him acting differently, exhibiting signs of fear, anxiety and stress when you adopt him.
It is only natural for a dog to feel a bit of “fear” when you first bring him to a new environment with unfamiliar scent, sight and people.
This fear should disappear very soon as he gets used to the environment. In fact, it will take him much less time than you would think to get over this feeling and start to act like a “normal” happy, friendly dog.
To help your dog to get used to his new home and settle down quickly, you would need to know what’s causing his unease and work on addressing those concerns he had.
The goal is to make this transition as easy and stress-free for your dog as possible.
Stress In His New Environment
This is probably going to be the MAIN trigger for his anxiety and panic attacks.
It’s likely going to happen almost immediately upon arrival, and then continue to worsen as time goes by if you do nothing to relieve his stress.
You see, your dog is going to have to adjust to a brand-new environment that is completely foreign to him.
He is going to have to LEARN how to live in this strange place. He has to get used to the fact there are no friends and his family members to be with him.
He needs to FIGURE OUT where to eat, drink, sleep, play and pee in this strange place.
For your dog, the process of learning how to survive in this challenging new environment is going to cause him a great deal of stress.
The following are the common behaviors that you could face from your new dog when he is trying to adapt to his new home.
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He Is Distancing From You
You may find that your dog starts to hide from you and will only come to you when he wants his meal. This is a clear sign that he does not trust you and is feeling very insecure.
He may also exhibit signs of fear when he sees your shoes as they possess your strong scent.
This is a very common reaction for most dogs who are placed in a strange environment and is a normal part of their emotional adjustment to the change.
When this happens, don’t force matters; don’t corner him or go after him.
You should work on gaining his trust in you. Make him see you as his pack leader, the one that would take good care of him and provide him with his basic needs such as food and shelter.
Earn his trust by feeding him with your hand rather than placing his meal in a food bowl. By feeding him from your hand, he will see you as a true pack leader and feel comfortable enough to approach you for his meal.
Another thing you can do is to make sure that he always has a safe place to retreat to whenever he feels threatened.
This may be as simple as a corner of your room where he feels very secure or getting him a crate or playpen.
Make sure this area is large enough for him to lie down and move around comfortably. You should also provide him with other things that he values, such as some chewing toys or a bed that he can call his own.
By doing this, he will start to associate these things with you and will come to see you as a source of comfort and security.
He is Clingy To You
The other extreme of distancing himself from you is that your new dog will simply get very clingy to you.
This is understandable, considering that you are the ONLY one that he knows when you bring him back home.
He will be desperate to make sure that he is as close to you as possible.
And you will often find him rubbing his face on your bed just to get a sniff of your scent from the bedding when you are not with him.
This can cause problems because you would certainly not like the idea of having a needy, dependent animal around.
So, how do you prevent this?
You need to let your new dog “bond” with your family… not just you! He needs to know that everybody in the house is his friend.
The best way to do this is to let your family members play with him.
Let your kids feed him with treats and play around with him. If they are old enough, have them take him for walks.
The idea is to give your dog the feeling that he is a member of your family and not just another stray that you have decided to take in.
And, don’t forget to include your new dog in your family activities. He’ll be much more likely to feel welcome if he is always included in what you are doing.
Once your dog feels like part of the family, then it will be much easier to teach him proper manners through obedience training.
He will learn to obey your house rules and know that you are the “Alpha” in the family.
He Is Feeling Depressed
Your dog appears depressed and sad because he will not understand why he has been separated from his family and friends and put into this strange place.
He will feel confused, scared and lost. This is how he will be feeling during this time.
Give him lots of love and affection, play with him and give him interesting things to do.
Make sure he gets enough exercise, so he will have something to keep his mind and body occupied.
Try to keep him as happy as you can. Don’t forget to give him attention and praise when he does something right.
This will make it easier for him to get through this difficult time.
And remember, your little angel has more wisdom than you ever thought of! He will adjust to his new life very quickly and be just fine.
He Is Losing His Appetite
Moving from his shelter to a new environment (your home) is considered a BIG routine change for your dog.
This drastic change is going to make your pup stressed and affect his appetite. It is important that you work on easing his transition to your new home.
You can do this by introducing him to stay in a crate. You see, crates are often seen as a safe place for dogs to hide out. They often feel secure and protected when they are in the crate.
Of course, this is on the assumption that you have crate trained your dog, and he now sees the crate as his “den”, a personal place of safe haven that offers him security and peace.
If you decide to use a crate for your dog, be sure to get one that is large enough for him to stand up, sit down or lay down comfortably. Never use a crate as a punishment or “time-out” tool.
You can also let your dog have his meal in the crate, as that would help to make him feel comfortable and at ease while he is eating and will certainly help to “open up” his appetite.
Make sure that you don’t leave your pup in his crate for too long and always praise him when he is in his crate. Let him out once he is done with his meal.
This will help him get used to the idea of food being served to him inside the crate.
He will then have some “crate habits” which will help him adjust to his new surroundings. And, most importantly, the crate will provide him with the feeling of being in his own home.
This will help your pup adjust to his new surroundings.
He Is Looking Tired
This could be the case that your dog is overstimulated in his new environment and is physically and mentally exhausted.
You see, your dog is equipped with an acute sense of smell and that means he is extremely “sensitive” to what’s going on around him.
If he gets a whiff of something, he is likely to carry out his investigation, which can be very taxing on his physical and mental resources.
This is especially so if he is now in a brand-new environment that has lots of strange and interesting smells that will keep him busy with his investigation for quite some time.
In this case, you need to create a more sedate environment for him by keeping his activities to a minimum for the first few days he is in your home.
Only give him a couple of hours a day to explore and run around so that he will not be over-stimulated and get tired easily.
Do This By…
Keeping his environment as “sedate” as possible!
Reducing the number of sights and sounds that are new to him.
You can do this by placing him in a crate so that you can “control” what he can see and hear.
Your dog will also be able to take a nap if he feels tired when he is in the crate. This will allow him to re-energize himself.
Keep your house as “quiet” as possible by lowering the volume of TV and radio to a bare minimum.
Reducing the excitement level of his daily routine!
Only give your dog indoor exercise and games to “control” his excitement level. You see, outdoor activities are always full of excitement for dogs!
There are lots of simulations that are going to attract his attention! He can run after a car, chase after cats, birds, squirrels or rabbits and many more.
That’s going to over stimulate him. It is very important to keep his routine exciting but not over stimulating during his initial phase of getting used to his new home.
Go for some indoor games such as playing flirt pole, “find the key” and “hide-and-seek”. This will keep him occupied while preventing him from getting over-excitement.
He Is Showing His Fear
Making sure that you limit your dog’s socialization circle during his “adapting” period.
You see, one of the main things that causes his fear in a new environment is the presence of strangers.
When he is trying his best to adapt in a strange place, there will be many unknown things to him.
He doesn’t know how people are going to react to him, whether they are going to be kind or mean, friendly or hostile to him. Are they going to scold him, ignore him or play with him?
All these unknown things can cause your dog to feel stressed out and nervous.
To help your dog overcome this fear, you need to acclimate him to different types of people and things in his new environment in a GRADUAL way!
This will take some time and planning on your part, but it will be very worthwhile.
This is what you should do:
Keep him away from any visitors or pets in your home during his first week in your home. You can have him in a crate whenever you have guests coming to your house.
He will feel safe and comfortable in the crate, and you will be able to observe his reaction when he sees your visitors from his crate.
At times, you may find him burying his head in the blanket to ease his anxiety. Do not get to worry as this behavior will go away once he starts to build his confidence to socialize.
When he starts to feel comfortable seeing your visitors from his crate, you can start by having just one person (like a close friend of yours) approach him when he is in his crate and slowly pet him and talk to him in a friendly way.
After a few minutes or so, have that same person leave the room and then have another one approach him.
Just keep working with him until he is at ease around people and things in his new environment.