It's no secret that I work with a lot of rescue dogs. I spent years working in rescue. I have two rescue dogs myself. And I have talked to lots and lots of adopters. And I talk to a lot of rescue agencies and so many of them have three words of advice to anyone who adopts a dog:
Two week shutdown.
The two week shutdown is simple in theory--give your dog time to adjust. Don't take them on a ton of stressful outings. Don't invite the whole family over. Don't throw them into an obedience class or into a board and train in the first few days. Don't take them on long, winding walks in the new neighborhood. In fact, don't take them on any walks. Stick to your yard. Don't take your new dog to the dog park. And don't give your new dog free run of your house.
And PLEASE don't toss newly adopted dog into the mix of your three established dogs/cats. Or have a group of 12 seven year olds over for a sleepover the day you bring new dog home.
Why? Because chances are your new dog is frightened and unsure already. Her whole world is new. She is in a new home with new smells. And having new people rushing at her, car noises whizzing by her, dogs barking at her, or children yelling excitedly all might make her just a little more uneasy. It is proven that overstimulation leads to bad behavior and, as a result, she may act out, and at this point she might not know you enough to trust you. And you don't know her well enough to know that she is uneasy. She needs to understand that you are there to protect her and provide a safe environment for her, and without this initial period, that trust is missing and you may end up with a dog that is insecure, frightened and unsure of the world. Or worse: returned to the rescue.
Instead of rushing into things, take it slow. Bring the new dog in, give her space to call her own. Get her used to her crate. Establish a feeding routine. Introduce the leash. In fact, tether her to you. That way you can catch any and all good behaviors and even start to see any potential needs of future training. Toss a toy here and there (but don't force her to play). Let her learn the world around her. Let her learn that you are the source of good things--and start to build that bond. Just you and your dog.
Ignore "bad" behavior (crying, whining, jumping) and gently praise good behavior. Don't shower your new dog with love and affection. Don't force yourself on your new dog. Take it slow--this is a relationship after all, and you are getting to know each other.
Please know that "two weeks" is a general guideline of the amount of time you should follow this program. Some dogs will settle in faster, some will take longer. It all depends on the individual dog and their needs. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DOG. They will "tell" you when they've had enough. Adult dogs often need the shut down more than puppies, but, again, pay attention to your dog--they can all benefit from a little decompression when they first come home. And never give a puppy free run of your house (more on that later!)
I know when you adopt a new dog you want to show her off to the world--I mean, who wouldn't? But, for the future of your relationship, share photos and fun stories via Facebook, Twitter, Instragram or the family newsletter, but don't overwhelm your new dog. Set her up for success, build that bond and you will be amazed at what happens.