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3.3.3 Rule for Adopting a Dog

How long does it take to decide if a dog is the right fit for your home?

Adopting a rescue dog is an exciting time. You decided to add a new family member, you fell in love with a dog, and now it’s time to bring her home. Sometimes it goes smoothly, but more likely there will be an adjustment for you and the dog. 

 There are some guidelines for what to expect in the first three days, three weeks, and three months after adoption. Understanding what the dog might be going through can help you feel more patient and optimistic. A rescue dog needs time to adapt and adjust. In most cases, he will embrace his new life and be a wonderful companion for your family.

The first three days are the scariest time for your dog (and you might think, “What have I done?!”). You both may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what is happening. He’s not “himself” and might be shut down. Maybe he hides under furniture, in a crate, or in another safe area. He may sleep a lot, not eat or drink, have bathroom accidents, and test boundaries. To help him, set up a safe quiet space such as a spare bedroom or laundry room with a cozy bed and crate. Check in with him, but don’t force him to accept attention. Speak calmly when getting to know him. Introduce him slowly to his new environment and family.


After getting through the first three days, your dog will likely settle in and feel more comfortable. She may start to realize that your home is a safe place. Establishing a routine is very important in the first three weeks. Consistent boundaries and rules are key. Your dog may start showing her personality. You may also see behavior issues that will need to be addressed. 

Three months later you should see your dog’s true personality and temperament. He is likely to have a sense of security and be comfortable in the home. Trust is building, and he will be bonding with you, your family, and other pets. At this point, you can realistically judge if the dog is in their forever home. 


Just like people, young dogs adjust more quickly. Older and shyer dogs may take a bit longer. Depending on the dog’s history, you may need to give it more time. As long as you see progress, you are doing the right things. Second Chance has behavioral consultations, training classes, and veterinary services available for you as well.

Several dogs have returned to us in the past few months. They all are good dogs and will be great additions to their families- once the right fit is found. At Second Chance, we always welcome dogs and cats back who do not work out in their new homes. 





I’m back! My name is Sturgil, and I’m a mellow, sweet, hound dog. I had a nice family but didn’t click with one of their other pets. I am happy to just be by your side or lounge on a dog bed on the porch. I love being outside as much as I can. Despite my size, I think I’m a lap dog and love to lean into you while you're petting me. 


Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 970-626-2273 to report a lost pet or to learn about adopting a homeless pet and the SCHS spay/neuter, volunteer, feral cat or other programs. View our shelter pets and services at

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