From my years of working or volunteering for shelters and rescues groups, I have often heard of dogs who get adopted and are brought back within a day or two because they “did not work out.”  Complains of housetraining problems and anxiety are usually the reasons.  Over the past 18 months, I have welcomed at least 20 dogs into my home, either as foster dogs or to “dogsit” while their families are away. Every dog consistently had the same issues – housetraining and anxiety. And they also had something else in common; it took about 36 hours for them to adjust to their new surroundings.

My friend’s sweet Golden Retriever is staying with me this week. When she arrived on Friday evening, she paced and drank a lot of water. I walked her several times but she refused to potty.  Instead, she decided that my living room rug was a better alternative, despite being outside for over an hour. That night, she would not sleep. She paced and whined. Neither of us slept.  It was not fun, but I have been through this before with most of the other dogs who have graced my home with their presence. Frustrating? Indeed!

The next day, I walked her every hour to each spot in the neighborhood where the other dogs had gone and she still refused to go potty. What was she doing with it?!! So I confined her to my kitchen where she could do no damage.I knew she was a good girl and I felt badly for her. The pacing was gradually diminishing and she showed signs of relaxing. She loved the Kong with peanut butter and found a few toys to distract her.

Discouraged about the dog’s refusal to go potty and worried about her health, I tried a different tactic. I thought that maybe she preferred to go in the yard. I live in a townhouse and cannot fence the yard. Instead, I put the dog on a very long leash and stayed there with her. She stood and sniffed the wind and took in the sights. More frustration! But then she started to pace back and forth, and I could tell that she was preparing to do her business.  That did it! This nice dog was accustomed to a different routine of going potty in a yard, not on a walk.

It took about a day and a half – 36 hours – for me to figure out this dog’s needs, and for the dog to relax in her new surroundings. After that, all was great.

If only new adopters could be patient and wait it out. Dogs don’t automatically know what to do when they arrive in a new place. We are strangers to them and they can be scared. Trust takes time to develop, as well as getting used to a new environment. If you are considering adopting a dog, please give them time. They could turn out to be the loves of your life if given only a few more hours.

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