Like many others have done during stay at home orders, I adopted a new dog last week. Maci is a 12 pound Chihuahua mix who came to me from Alabama. Bringing home a newly adopted pet is super exciting to humans! However, keep your excitement in check and consider your new dog’s state of mind.

The first few days and weeks can be very confusing for your new pooch. Don’t be alarmed if your new dog doesn’t want to eat; many don’t when they are stressed. He will be overwhelmed with his new surroundings and likely not comfortable enough to be himself. Maci’s behavior the first 3 days at home was very quiet and shy. This is not unusual for a new rescue. However, the opposite may also be true. They may test you to see what they can get away with (similar to dealing with a teenager). Maci falls into this category now. After three days of quiet and shy, she has started testing the boundaries of what she can get away with guarding her possessions.

Most rescue dogs come with some kind of baggage. Regardless of what that baggage is, DO NOT fall into the trap of feeling sorry for your new pooch and showering with constant affection. Your new pooch needs you to provide clear boundaries and leadership consistently. In doing so, your dog will learn to trust you and establish a strong bond with you.

It is very likely your new dog may have never seen or experienced things you take for granted. Stairs, television, kids, bicycles, etc. can all be strange to a new dog. Learn to read canine body language. It will help you bond and understand why your dog does what he does.

Create a routine. Dogs and people alike strive on a schedule. Feed and walk your dog at approximately the same time each day.

Remember to take it slow regardless of how excited you are feeling. Your new pooch has been through a lot and will take time to integrate into his new family.

Remember the Rule of 3s for rescue dogs:

• 3 days to decompress
• 3 weeks to start to know your routine
• 3 months to start to feel at home.

Give them a chance to succeed. Consult a trainer if you need support.