Have I mentioned that my son is spending the year in Poland with his girlfriend, where they have acquired two whippets?
To make a long story short…it sounds like the first few months with the new pets have been a bit wild. So, I was happy to hear that James and his girlfriend have hired a behaviorist to consult with them on getting Lily and Hugo settled and trained.
Bringing home a new pet is exciting! But, most new pets will take some time to settle into life with you. Just as you are learning how to incorporate your new dog or cat into your routine, so, too, are your pets trying to navigate their new surroundings.
It’s important to give new pets the time and space they need to feel comfortable. While each animal adapts at their own pace, we often use the 3-3-3 rule as a general guideline for what to expect with a new dog or cat.
Three days to decompress: Your dog or cat may feel overwhelmed, stressed, or scared upon arrival home. They are trying to figure out their new environment. During this time, consistency is key to helping them learn the ropes.
In this initial adjustment period, it’s common for your new pet to miss a meal, have accidents, not drink water or drink excessively. They may also avoid engaging in play, be destructive, increase their vocalizations, hide or act shut down or resist going outside for walks.
Three weeks to learn routine: After the first few days, your new dog or cat should be coming out of hiding more and learning to respond to routine cues. They may still avoid play or social behaviors, but you should notice a reduction in their stress levels.
At this stage, you can start thinking about signing your dog up for a training class. Most adolescent and adult dogs will benefit from three-to-six weeks of acclimation time with you before their first class. Puppies can attend much sooner, with an ideal waiting time of just three-to-four days.
Three months to start to feel at home: Most dogs and cats will have adapted after a few months in their new home. They understand their new routine, are comfortable with their environment and are engaging in natural behaviors.
Cats will be scratching, purring, kneading and walking around with a relaxed body.
Dogs will be engaging in play and social behaviors and greeting their family with a loose body. Potty training should be complete for juveniles and adults.
But, like Lily and Hugo, not all pets adjust easily, and you may see some problem behaviors arise. That’s when you might want to consider reaching out for help.
My son and his girlfriend plan to bring Lily and Hugo to Connecticut in the fall when he returns to college and she starts graduate school. That will likely be another challenging adjustment period for the dogs. A move across town can cause pets to become stressed, anxious, and fearful. Imagine moving to another continent!
It’s important to remember to be patient, establish a safe area for your pet in your home, stick to routines as much as possible and reach out for help if needed. Veterinarians may prescribe medication for your pet to help with stress.
Pasadena Humane offers training classes and an online resource library to address common concerns like barking, house training, digging, pawing up and other issues. Or, you might want to consult a private trainer.
We are always here to help with your pet-related needs. If you want to learn more about our training classes or online behavior resources, pasadenahumane.org
Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.
This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on April 28, 2023.