So, you’ve just adopted a new dog, and he’s not behaving quite the way you wanted him to. Maybe he has accidents in the house, or his manners aren’t that great, or maybe he’s horrible on leash. You’ve already thought that he’s “not the dog for you,” and he’s only been in your home for a week.
Maybe the issue here has nothing to do with the dog? Here are some reasons why your expectation for your new dog is ruining your relationship.
What’s Wrong With Having Expectations?
Expecting anything from your new dog is totally and completely unfair. Take this from someone who hated her foster dog the moment she set foot in the house.
If this is your first dog, you are both new to this whole parenting business. You may have expectations from what you’ve read, heard from friends, or experienced with other dogs that were not your own. However, if this isn’t your first dog, your expectations will be set much too high, due to the fact that you may have had your last dog for a long while.
If this isn’t your first dog, you will have memories of what your previous dog was like. Most likely, you will be remembering the fond, cherished memories of all the great times you had together. Maybe you expect this dog to be the same way. This thought process is not fair to either you or your new dog.
This isn’t your old dog, and he has no idea who you are!
Having expectations for your new dog, whether you expect him to be like your old dog, a dog you saw on TV, or a friend’s dog, is unfair because you are setting him up for failure. He will let you down in every scenario if you set the bar anywhere above rock bottom.
Replace Expectations With Optimism
Remaining optimistic beyond all odds of failure is key to having a successful relationship with your dog. Optimism is something you must maintain throughout your dog’s life at any stage. There will be bad days, and worse days, but there is always room for improvement.
Having optimism that your new dog will be well behaved, or adjust quickly isn’t unhealthy, whereas expecting these things from your dog is unfair. This dog is not only new to you, but you are new to him. He has been removed from his element, home, environment, and plopped into this new place that smells strange and some random human keeps touching him. Wouldn’t you be uncomfortable in that situation?
He doesn’t know where to go to the washroom, he doesn’t know where to sleep, and he can’t be sure if you are going to feed him or not. Rescued street dogs will often have issues with accidents in the house, and rummaging through garbage. They don’t know any better!
Instead of being upset that your dog is taking longer to adjust to his new life in a house, be grateful for every sign of appreciation. Whether it’s a slight wag of the tail, or a snuggle in bed, or even a quick sit before dinner, you should be applauding your dog’s every effort. He’s making an honest effort, and he will improve.
It’s Been Months And My Dog Still Isn’t Adjusting
There are many resources online, as well as an abundance of personal dog trainers that will be more than happy to help your new dog adjust. You may be overlooking some of your dog’s insecurities, causing him to act out at home. Every dog will take their own time to settle.
Unfortunately, there are cases of dogs not fitting in with their new home. Each dog will have his own perfect match out there, and it might not be you. That’s OK! As long as you’ve put in as much effort, and consulted as many resources as possible, it is alright to admit that you are not a good fit for your new dog.
Expecting your dog to adjust to his new home in general is also unfair, although this is a very sad realization for many parents. If your dog is not the right fit for you, there is always another one out there. Help your dog find his perfect home and try again!
Fostering is a great way to “test out” dogs, and still be given the option to adopt them permanently.
Remember that foster dog I hated? She is now my baby girl! We both needed time to get to know each other. Happy endings do exist!