Dear Tabby: Help rescued dogs acclimate to family life | Community

Dear Tabby,

We adopted an older dog about three months ago. While he’s made lots of progress with us, he still has some issues that we’re working on. When can we expect him to be fully acclimated to life with us (and us with him)?

New Doggo in Garden Oaks

Dear New Doggo,

While I don’t often share much about my private life here, I wanted to share with you that my family recently adopted an older dog, too. It’s been more challenging than any of us expected, but he is slowly but surely coming around. Here are some things to consider when helping your new dog to adjust:

Acclimation takes time

As tough as it seems, it can take a rescued dog at least three months and sometimes up to a year to adjust to life in a new home. Puppies (generally) are more malleable and able to go with the flow, but any dog ​​older than a puppy has an increased risk of past traumas – even just the trauma of living in a shelter for any length of time. These traumas take lots of patience, love and understanding to work through. Don’t expect your dog to fit right into your home immediately – it will take time and love to make that happen.

Seek help from trainer

A dog trainer can help you and your dog to bond, which will strengthen the relationship with your new dog and also help to build the confidence of your new dog. Many rescued dogs’ issues stem from a lack of confidence and even basic dog training can help them to feel happier and given a sense of belonging and accomplishment. Dog training also helps you to address some of your dog’s issues and work on socializing him properly.

Exercise important

Exercise is important for any animal, but especially so for a rescued dog. Exercise burns off excess energy that can exacerbate anxiety in a dog. Plus, going for a walk or a run is fun for your dog and a good way to form a bond with him.


If you haven’t already, establish a clear and solid routine with your new dog. Feed him and walk him at the same time every day. Knowing what to expect will help your dog to feel at ease and part of your family. Dogs are creatures of habit, so a structured day is best for your pooch.

Rescuing a dog can often be more difficult than one imagines. We all expect our new dog to immediately fall into place in our home, our family and in our lives. But the fact of the matter is your dog probably still isn’t quite sure what’s going on and if this is, indeed, his forever home or if he’ll be shuttled off somewhere else next. By spending time with him and seeking the help of a trainer, you and your dog will grow closer and closer and feel more like family every day.

Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at

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