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If you’ve ever adopted a dog, you may be wondering what kind of circumstances led them to the shelter in the first place. Sometimes even loving owners have to give their dogs up for adoption because of one thing or another, but it doesn’t mean they love their previous dog any less.
Perhaps you’re worried that your newly adopted dog will struggle to bond with you if they have already bonded with a previous owner. If you’ve noticed your newly adopted dog is taking some time to warm up to their new family, you may be wondering: do dogs miss their previous owners?
In order to understand the answer to this question, we need to understand how a dog’s memory works. Interestingly, dogs have a relatively short memory span. So it’s not recommended to shout at your dog when they rummage through your trash or chew your shoes, as they won’t remember what they’ve done wrong.
The same applies to people. Dogs will typically remember how we make them feel. So if you’re kind and loving to your newly adopted dog, you’ll be surprised how quickly they will bond with you.
As well as their short term memory, dogs also have an associative memory. So if they have particularly strong positive or negative emotions about a person or place, they can still react to this even if they haven’t seen them for a long time.
The general rule of thumb tends to be that the older the dog is when you adopt them, the longer it may take them to adapt to their new environment. The younger the dog you adopt, the shorter this adjustment period will be.
If your newly adopted dog displays anxious behavior such as whining, wandering around, barking, or panting, then chances are that they are missing their previous owner.
However, not all hope is lost. As long as you provide a warm, loving home for your new pet, they will bond with you relatively quickly.
Today, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about how your adopted dog’s bond with their previous owner will affect their new home with you.
How Long Does it Take for a Dog to Forget its Previous Owner?
So while we now know that dogs’ memories don’t work exactly like ours, you may be wondering how long it will take for your dog to forget their previous owner.
The answer can vary depending on your dog’s personal circumstances, but it will typically take anywhere between 1 to 3 years for your dog to fully acclimatize to their new living situation and to stop pining for their previous owner. This will also be dependent on them not having direct contact with their previous owner.
It’s important to remember that things like sounds, smells, and their previous experiences can also make your dog recognize things they associate with their previous owners. For example, if their previous owner made them feel a specific way when they performed certain behaviors, this can cause your dog to remember them.
If your dog were to encounter their previous owner after several years, they will still be able to remember how that person made them feel.
Do Dogs Miss Their Owners if They are Rehomed?
If dogs have a positive relationship with their previous owners, then they will start to miss them once they are rehomed. This will typically last for longer if they are older and have been with their previous owner for a long time. If the dog is relatively young, then they won’t miss their previous owners for long once introduced to a new home.
The general rule of thumb is that the longer the dog stays with a new owner, the more attached they will become to them. So, if you adopt a dog from the shelter and they live with you for many years, they will become more attached to you than they were with their previous owner.
If your dog appears to be displaying depressed tendencies when they first come into your home, it will be important to give them a bit of time to bond with you. As long as you make sure that your dog feels comfortable in their new environment, there’s nothing to stop them from bonding with you.
Do Dogs Recognize Their Previous Owners?
If dogs were to encounter their previous owners, they will most definitely recognize them. This is because dogs have an associative memory. So when they see a person that they haven’t seen for a while, they will remember how that person made them feel. If they had a positive relationship with their previous owner, they will become excited if they were to see their previous owners.
There are plenty of stories that detail dogs waiting for their owners to come back from overseas, and being overjoyed once they see them again. Typically, dogs will show the most recognition for those owners who were loving and affectionate, or who acted negatively towards them.
Is it Traumatic for Dogs to Change Owners?
You may be wondering how traumatic it will be for dogs to change owners. Interestingly, it’s not as traumatic as you may think. If the dog was abandoned by previous owners, this will understandably be a very traumatic experience for them. However, dogs are naturally loving animals, and will be keen to love new owners.
Dogs will naturally be curious about their new environment. You can also work to make their new environment more comfortable for them so that this transition will be much smoother. You can do this by spending a few days at home with them so that they can better acclimatize to their new environment. You can also make sure to take up the role of alpha, so that your new dog will have more security in their new home.
It will also be best to make your home a comfortable space for them to spend their time. Make sure to give them plenty of toys to keep them stimulated, as well as lots of soft blankets and a soft bed for them to sleep in. Most importantly, you will need to make your dog feel welcome, and like they are one of the family.
So there you have it! Dogs can indeed miss their previous owners, especially if they had a positive relationship with them. Dogs are also more likely to miss their previous owners if they are older. If you adopt a younger dog, it won’t take as long for them to adjust to living in your home. You will also be surprised by how quickly your new dog is able to bond with you and all of the family.
The best way to get your newly adopted dog to bond with you and your family is to make their environment super comfortable. You can spend a few days at home with them to help them transition to their new environment, give them their own space to use, as well as inhabit the role of their alpha.
It will be important to stay consistent with the approach that you take so that your newly adopted dog can feel comfortable in their new home, and so that they can bond with you.