NEW YORK — Bringing a new dog home is often a joyous, exciting time — but according to new research, it’s just as likely to cause stress for both pet and person alike.
In a new poll of 2,003 dog owners, 54 percent of those who’ve only adopted “rescue dogs” from a shelter or local foster community were not prepared for how stressed out their new pooch would be while adapting to their forever home.
Settling in with rescue dogs
The anxiety doesn’t last forever however, as the survey reveals the average respondent says their most recent dog took between four and five days to settle in after arriving.
This mirrors the “3-3-3 rule,” a common rule of thumb among pet experts that dogs feel overwhelmed the first three days in a new home, begin showing their personality after three weeks, and feel completely comfortable after three months. The poll finds 77 percent of rescue-only dog parents find this rule to be true when it comes to their own experiences.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of ACANA Rescue Care for Adopted Dogs, the poll also reveals that millennial respondents (ages 25-40) noticed the longest adjustment period in their new pets — almost two days longer than the average baby boomer (age 57+).
Fifty-eight percent have adopted a dog from a rescue shelter, while 49 percent have gone to breeders. Baby boomers were almost twice as likely to adopt a dog than purchase from a breeder (47% vs 29%).
The adoption route proved to be most popular across the board, with 57 percent of Gen-X rescuing a dog as opposed to 49 percent using a breeder. Overall, only one in five have gone through both methods of adoption with different dogs.
Meanwhile, 72 percent based their choice on more factors than just the breed. When it comes to making the decision to bring a new dog home, millennials were most likely to say they wanted to teach their kids about responsibility (56%).
Reasons to get a dog change over time
Thirty-five percent wanted to give themselves something to be responsible for, including 45 percent of Gen Z respondents (ages 18-24). Although more than half of respondents cited companionship as their reason for getting a dog, baby boomers were the most likely to do so (76%) compared to other generations.
“Getting a new rescue dog is a big commitment for the whole family, but with a little patience, a lot of love and the right tools it’s one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do,” says Jennifer Beechen, vice president of marketing for ACANA Rescue Care for Adopted Dogs, in a statement.
It’s all worth it in the end, though, as some respondents proved with their funniest and most heartwarming stories from bringing home their dog for the first time.
“Beagles usually bark and howl. We rescued him and he was very quiet. Now that we’ve had him for a while he howls like crazy,” one respondents tells researchers.
“He crawled right on to my chest when I laid down to nap, he wanted a nap too,” another dog owner adds.
In order to keep their dogs happy and healthy, 48 percent take their dogs for long walks and runs, while 60 percent are sure to provide proper nutrition. Eighty-six percent agree that their pet’s food is important for maintaining healthy body weight.
“Like people, dogs can experience different levels of stress when it comes to significant, life-changing events,” says Dr. Darcia Kostiuk, senior veterinarian for ACANA Rescue Care for Adopted Dogs. “That’s exactly why we suggest feeding new rescue dogs a food that specifically meets their needs and helps them thrive through the transition from shelter to forever home.”
I have had dogs my whole life, 67 years, from breeders and rescues. The3-3-3 rule usually applied. My recent rescue is a toy poodle who was kept in a crate for her first five years and bred. We have been together 4 months and 12 days. I am retired, so I have all the time in the world to devote to her. Patience and baby steps are our guidelines. She is adjusting to me, but no one else. When afraid, she runs. She is afraid of almost everything: noises, outside, the ground, sudden movements. She loves to sleep in the bed with me. She has discovered toys and will play as long as no one is watching. I can only pick her up in two places in the house. We are working on weight gain and I have finally found a combination of healthy foods she loves. I won’t give up on her. I just expect this to take a very long time.