Deciding to adopt a pet is one of the most wonderful experiences for any animal lover. Still, the initial decision is simply the start of your journey. As an adopter, you must be prepared for the adjustments, challenges and teething troubles (pun intended!) that come with any pet adoption. At Friendicoes, we’ve facilitated hundreds of successful adopt allows them, and to help you along the process, we’re putting together our useful observations and tips that we have gathered to make this experience as pleasant and comfortable as possible for both you and your pet.
It’s only natural that one takes time to adjust to new environments, people and spaces – and the same holds true for our fur buddies. The amount of time each pet takes to adjust to their new home might vary, but there exists a 3-3-3 rule of adoption that prepares you for some common behaviours you can expect over a certain period. It is important to understand these behaviours in order to help your adoptee integrate with your home seamlessly.
What to expect and what to do
The 3-3-3 rule describes the phases of behaviour you can expect from your adoptee during the first 3 days, 3 weeks and 3 months of adoption. However, it’s important to note that each adoptee is unique and has their own personality, quirks and circumstances, so this rule acts more as a general guide.
During the initial days, you and your adoptee can feel quite overwhelmed. Owing to a new environment, your pet may initially lack appetite or curl up in corners and hide under furniture. On the other hand, some may become overly active with nervous energy and overexcitement. At this stage, it’s important to be patient, allow them space, maintain your cool, provide clear directions and start building a routine with them.
Within a few weeks, you will notice your pet getting comfortable in their new environment and beginning to make it their own. Their personality will begin to show, and any dormant behavioural issues may become apparent. You must start setting expectations and boundaries during this time, using positive reinforcement and training. Be sure to reward behaviours you would like to reinforce and continue teaching basic commands.
By the three-month mark, your pet should be completely at home in your home. Their bond with you, built on trust and security, would be strengthened, and they would be in tune with you and their new routine. Once you’ve reached this stage, it’s important to continue the established routine and their training and reinforcement.
Day one introductions
Adopted pets go through a tumultuous amount of change in a short span of time. To make sure the change is not too sudden and overwhelming, you can follow these tips to slowly introduce them to your environment when you bring them home:
Immediately bringing your adoptee inside the house without introducing them to the outside of your home first can amplify these anxieties. This crucial step allows them to acquaint themselves with certain smells and run off any excess energy. This also provides them with a sense of freedom and comfort.
Once they have relaxed a bit, you can take them indoors, preferably to the quiet and cosy corner of your home that you have designated for your pet. We suggest you prepare this space with an appropriately sized bed and other amenities like feeding stations. An area to call their own will make them feel safe and protected until they get acquainted with you and your home.
Cases of behavioural adjustments
Apart from the general behaviour to expect from a new adoptee, there are some adoptees who may display other significant signs of being uncomfortable or overwhelmed. These individualistic reactions are usually due to their past experiences and traumas.
Animals rescued from neglectful and abusive owners can portray some aggressive behaviour. It may also just be a response to the uncertainty of the new environment and transition. This behaviour may include being possessive of you or their belongings and becoming hostile against anyone who draws your attention away from them. This is crucial to address as early on as possible. So, we suggest you watch them carefully, understand their triggers, be attentive to their emotional needs and be patient while maintaining some level of firmness, so you do not unintentionally promote this behaviour. Sometimes, you may be advised to seek temporary professional help with training.
The overwhelming emotions of being relocated can also materialise in destructive actions to draw attention. Remember that being alone for too long can make anyone, let alone an adoptee, feel lonely, bored and crave attention. Your adoptee may have developed the habit of tearing into belongings or digging into gardens to soothe and settle these emotions. Therefore, we suggest giving your adoptee a lot of attention and appropriate stimulation to keep them occupied and focused on adapting to the new environment instead of acting out against it. Needless to say, harsh punishments for being destructive can have the opposite effect than intended – so be composed and sensitive in dealing with this behaviour.
Adoptees can often display signs of being fearful and socially withdrawn. They may try to hide or run away from social situations as, due to previous experiences, they may have developed a fear of people, other animals, or noises. These anxieties could have been amplified by residing in a rescue shelter with unfamiliar noises, smells, and other animals. To work on these fears, you must be patient and understanding as you build their trust and confidence. Once they trust you wholeheartedly, animals can gather the strength to face their fears as long as you are around. How adorable is that?
Owing to their history, they may have poor housebreaking habits like submissive urination. This is easy to address as once you understand your adoptee’s nuances better; you can plan to rebuild their confidence appropriately. By rewarding the behaviour you like and interrupting the behaviour you don’t like, you can effectively teach the adoptee what you want quite clearly. We discourage starting the re-training with the expectation of drastic and immediate results at the outset or using negative reinforcement when accidents occur in your home. These things take time and must be addressed with kindness, compassion, and patience.
We cannot emphasise this fact enough that all animals are unique in behaviour, temperament and personality. Just as our experiences shape us, the same goes for the animals. It is thus important to be understanding of the individual needs of your adoptee and the quirks they enter your life with.
And what if you already have a dog?
We have mentioned how adoptees can be apprehensive and fearful of other animals. Your current pet could also be possessive of you and unwelcoming at adding a new member to the family. So what can you do to encourage a bond between your current pet for your new adoptee?
Adoption is one of the most enriching experiences for you and your pet. With one decision, you’re changing the entire trajectory of your life for the better. In return, the amount of love and joy you will experience during your pet parenting journey is unparalleled. However, your commitment only starts there. It’s important to be sensitive and understanding of your new pet’s stresses and anxieties, be attuned to all their needs, shower them with your love and affection, and watch them adjust to life with you beautifully. Things will only get better with time, and before long, you won’t be able to picture a life without them!
If you are considering adoption, the team at Friendicoes is well-equipped and more than ready to help you start this journey. You can reach out to us here for guidance on this life-changing experience!