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Adjusting to Life as a New Pet Parent

Bringing home a new pet is an exciting and joyful time, but also an overwhelming one! You are opening up your home to another living being that depends on you. Likewise they are adjusting to new people, a new environment and new routine. It’s HARD!

Are you currently experiencing or experienced any of the following when you first adopted your pet?

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Frustration
  • Tearfulness
  • A short fuse
  • Second-guessing your decision

Then this blog is for YOU! You are not alone. The decompression phase with a new pet is very real and can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

The good news? It doesn’t last forever! They’re still that same dog you fell in love with! But adjusting to all of the “new” takes time.

Adjusting to life with new pets

DECOMPRESSION is the time that dogs need to unwind and acclimate to living in a new environment. Initially, your pet may sleep a lot, not want to eat regularly, or exhibit behaviors that you didn’t see previously. While the Rule of 3’s is important to remember here in terms of what to expect, every dog is an individual and will settle in on their own timeline.

While they’re getting used to their new home, you’re getting used to your new pet! Here are our top tips for adjusting to having a new pet in your home:



Keep it simple in the first few weeks and stick to a consistent, easy routine! Start a schedule of feeding, potty breaks and play/exercise. Structure will make your dog feel secure and let them know what to expect.

There is an urge to be social, start making memories together and introduce your pet to new people and places. There is no rush to do these things! They can be overwhelming for your pet at first. We recommend waiting until your pet is more comfortable in their everyday routine.


As we’ve said, you’re not alone! It’s important to talk to others who have been through this, whether in person or online. Just take it from these pet parents who adopted from LifeLine shelters:


Some days, it may feel like you’re taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Don’t forget to celebrate the small victories!

    • Did your dog seek out their crate on their own to take a nap?

    • Did your cat come out of its hiding spot to explore?

    • Did your puppy go their first day without any accidents inside?

These are all moments to be proud of and are a testament to the love and dedication you have for your new pet, as well as a sign that they’re adjusting happily to their new life!

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The stress may really be getting to you! It’s important to consider the quality of life for both you and your new pet. Ask yourself:

    • Is what I’m dealing with a temporary issue or is it a safety or behavioral concern?
    • Is my pet facing something within my ability to help them or is it beyond my personal capacity?
    • What additional resources do I need to support this transition?

Trust that you know what’s best for yourself and your family. Not every match is meant to be and that’s okay! If you’ve followed these tips and given yourself and your pet time to adjust, but haven’t seen improvements, we encourage you to connect with the LifeLine Adopter Support team for professional support.

There are also rehoming resources available to avoid your pet returning to the stressful shelter environment and help them transition to a better fit.

At the end of the day, we’re all just doing our best! With grace for yourself and your pet, a strong support system, time and love, you and your new best friend are sure to have a beautiful life by each other’s side!


In addition to these tips, LifeLine offers tangible tools and resources to help adopters during the new pet period.

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