Adopting a dog is supposed to be a magical experience. Puppy kisses and cuddles. Long walks and playtime together… right? But soon after you get your new rescue dog home, you start to feel overwhelmed, and second thoughts start to creep up. 

Becoming a new dog mom or dad sounds like fun, but it’s a lot of hard work. Adopting a rescue dog can come with a host of struggles, making it easy to feel regret. What did I get myself into?

sad woman regretting adopting dog

Is it normal to have second thoughts about getting a dog?

“I adopted a dog and now I regret it.” You are not alone. According to the ASPCA, about 6% of adopted dogs are returned to the shelter every year. That’s 6% of families that just couldn’t get past the regret stage.

The fact that you are here, reading this… wondering if you are normal, is a good sign. It means you care and are willing to try and make it work with your new adopted dog.

Most dogs are returned because of behavior issues, big and small. Some dogs don’t get 24 hours before they are headed back to the shelter. 

But the fact is that most rescue dogs go through a transitional honeymoon phase, and don’t show their true personality for several months. Read the 3-3-3 rule.

It is very normal to have second thoughts about getting a dog. It takes patience and time for both you and the dog to learn to trust and love each other.

If you start feeling depressed, angry and other uncontrollable feelings, you may be experiencing the puppy blues.

How long does adoption regret last?

How long your adoption regret lasts will vary on your circumstances and why you regret adopting the dog.

Do you regret adopting your dog because he showing bad behaviors that you don’t know how to deal with? Take these steps to help assess:

  • Give the dog time to decompress and adjust to his new home (3-3-3 rule)
  • Speak with your vet to ensure no medical issues are causing the unwanted behaviors
  • Seek advice from a professional dog behavior trainer (find the perfect dog trainer)
  • Talk with the shelter or rescue you adopted the dog from to see if they have resources to help with the transition period.

Most dogs will do a 180 in about 3 months. While extreme cases with dogs in hoarding or abuse situations may take years to be rehabilitated. Read Adopting a fearful dog and how to help.

Can you return a dog after adopting?

If after adopting a dog you find the dog is not the right fit for your family, then you can return the dog to the most reputable shelters. Reach out to the shelter and ask about their policies about returning an adopted dog.

I recommend doing some homework before giving up on the dog to ensure you are making the right decision. Read: Is it Ever Okay to Rehome a Dog?

What’s Next?

I hope that you can work through the regret of adopting your dog and see that in a few months you will have a different dog.

But I also understand that sometimes people get matched with a dog that is not a good fit for their family. In those circumstances, I agree that rehoming a dog may be the best choice.

Rescue Dogs 101 has many resources to help you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog. Take some time to browse the articles here to help… and then join our private Facebook community group. It’s a safe place for rescue dog moms and dads to share and learn.

About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

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  1. Just adopted a small dog from cell dogs prison program he has had lotsof training and know lots of commands but he growls and barks and show bad body language when meeting people. I do have two grand kids age 5 and 6 months which im keeping a distance from him He has been with me 3 days and is very cuddley how do I go about correcting this behavior Now I' letting him chill out.and when do I start working on his behavior. I don't what to start out with bad experiences which has allready happened on day 2.

    1. You are doing the right thing by keeping the dog away from the kids for now. At only 3 days he’s still very new to you. And I am going to assume the growl and bark is fear based. He needs to gain confidence with you before you can correct any behavior. So for now you need to avoid any triggers, so no meeting new people for now. Re-assess in a few weeks. Then you can work on counter-conditioning and boosting his confidence. I highly recommend either finding a local trainer or check out Spirit Dog’s Tackling Reactivity Bundle. Good luck and I pray it all works out for you and the dog.

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