The Honeymoon Period
Brought to you by Menoka’s Dog Manners Training
The honeymoon period is the timeframe from when you brought your dog home until he has adjusted to his new surroundings. It usually last from 2 weeks to 3 months. During this time your dog is basically being a wallflower. He is standing back and sizing up the joint. Adjusting to a new home can be a happy but often stressful time for a dog. It’s a lot to take in, new people, new home, and new rules. The dog isn’t quite sure what is expected from him so he stays on his best behavior. Once the dog has acclimated, the confidence to be himself emerges. He may even start pushing the boundaries to see what he can get away with. This is when people get worried because they think the dog has suddenly changed from calm and submissive to an unruly dog they don’t know how to manage.
So what can you do to minimize the aftermath of the honeymoon period and make the transition easier for your new dog? Set up a routine. A routine will give the dog a sense of security. He needs to know what and when to expect things like his mealtimes, potty breaks, play sessions, and bedtime. His body will adjust to the schedule and his mind will follow. Consistency equals a feeling of safety for a dog.
Start training your dog. Get your dog into an obedience class, hire a personal trainer, or train him yourself. Just make sure you train through positive reinforcement. This means focusing on what he does right rather than scolding him for what he does wrong. Praising him for the behaviors you do want will make those behaviors more prominent resulting in the unwanted behaviors to fade.
This doesn’t mean you can’t give a verbal interruption when you “catch” him doing something wrong. It is appropriate to let your dog know a behavior is incorrect, but yelling, hitting, etc., are unacceptable especially with a shelter dog whose past you don’t fully know. Training also puts you in the leadership role with your new dog. It is important for your dog to understand who the top dog in the house is….you!
Your dog should learn to offer a behavior such as “sit” or “high five” to get the things in life he wants such as a toy or a treat. This will establish a good relationship with your dog and a pattern of clear communication. Exercise your dog. Remember a tired dog is a good dog!
Understanding the honeymoon period will help you expect a change in your new dog and not be taken off guard. Follow these simple suggestions and the transition from the honeymoon period should be seamless for both you and your dog.