Settling-in Period For a Rescue Dog

Rescue dogs go through what we call a settling in period, and it can actually take up to 3 months for a rescue dog to fully become comfortable in the environment, with their new owners and for owners to start seeing their dog’s true character and personality. 

It is not uncommon for rescue dogs to suppress their emotions and who they are, to begin with, and as the days and weeks go on, parts of their true personality will start to come out.

The First 3 Days

In the first 3 days of a rescue dog being in their new home, it is not uncommon for a dog to:

– not be comfortable to be ‘themselves’ 

– be off their food &/or water

– shut down – choosing to stay away or hidden and not want to interact.

When a rescue dog comes into the home, the dog may be overwhelmed, stressed, scared and unsure and they can show this in different ways.

Some dogs will come bombing in and around the home, be unable to settle or keep still, exploring every inch of their new environment, whereas others will be more reserved, wanting some quiet time to adjust.

Some rescue dogs will test their boundaries but equally, they are having to learn a new routine, new cues, learning to read their new owners, what they now can and cannot do.

3 Weeks

Within a 3 week period, we start to see the rescue dogs starting to settle in, with pieces of their character coming through each day. They should have their new environment pretty much figured out and fitting in with the household routine.

By this point they should be:

– feeling more confident & comfortable

– starting to build trust with their new owners

– start feeling safe

– behaviour issues may start being shown. 

3 Months

It takes 3 months for a rescue dog to truly ‘feel at home’. By 3 months your rescue dog should be showing your their true and full colourful personality. At this point they should be:

– completely comfortable within their home

– comfortable with their owners

– feel safe

– set in a routine

– have built up a bond and trust with household members.

If you are thinking of bringing home a rescue dog or have recently adopted a dog and would like some help & guidance please reach out to a vetted, monitored and reviewed Approved Dog Trainer at