Few things are as exciting for a dog lover as bringing home a new dog! Adopting from a shelter is especially rewarding because you know you’re rescuing a dog and giving them a loving new life. Though it is wonderful to have a new pet, careful planning and preparation will help you make sure that their adjustment to their new home is as smooth and successful as possible. Read on for helpful tips to help your rescue dog adapt and feel happy in their new home.

Prepare to be Patient and Flexible

The first thing to do is to make sure that you, as the new pet owner, are prepared and ready to help your rescue get acclimated to their new life. While it is fun and exciting to have a new pet, there are naturally some growing pains. For instance, even adult dogs can struggle with having accidents when they are in a new environment; so for your own sanity, go ahead and prepare yourself for the fact that you will probably need some commercial carpet cleaning once the adjustment period has passed! Dogs can also be withdrawn, timid, or defensive when they aren’t yet sure of their environment, so do not expect them to be on their best behavior for the first month at least. Dogs feed off of human emotions and anxieties, so staying calm and patient will help them do the same. Having an entirely new home and family is a huge life change and your dog will depend on you to help them through it.

Set the Right Scene

When you adopt a rescue dog, they deserve a bit of pre-planning just like a new baby does! First, have an established place for your new dog’s food, water, toys, and bed that you show them as soon as they walk in so they can begin to understand that this is their safe space. If you have other pets, make sure that your new dog gets their own separate corner or spot, especially at the beginning. If you know your pet had special things at the shelter that were his or hers, bring them home with you if at all possible, to help your pet feel comforted. If you know your dog was in a small space at the shelter, giving them a small space of their own at your house may really help them relax and acclimate more quickly.

If you have a backyard or patio, make sure it is secure with no easy escape routes. Many new dogs may have a tendency to escape no matter how loved and comforted you make them feel. If you have no yard, make sure you have a good leash and harness so you can be ready to take them on walks right away.

Establish Rules and Boundaries

Before you bring your dog home, take some time to think about what behaviors you do not want to allow. If, for example, you know you do not want your dog to jump up on the couch with you, decide this ahead of time and be ready to establish that right away. The faster you start teaching your new dog the house rules, the easier it will be. Do not let unacceptable habits be established even in the first few days because they will be very hard to break. Do remember to be gentle but firm if you must redirect your new pet. Avoid being unnecessarily harsh as this could cause them even more stress.

Give Your Dog Time and Space

Do not overwhelm your rescue dog with attention and training during the first few days. They will soon adapt and you will be able to shower them with attention, but at first, allow them plenty of time to just adjust and explore their new home on their own. Also, plan ahead to not have extra people over for the first couple of weeks in order to limit your dog’s stress. Once you feel that they are getting used to their new home, start introducing visitors, but always take it slowly and cautiously and stay close to help your dog feel safe and at ease. Again, remember that although you are ready for this, your dog may take a while to feel completely comfortable. Just like people, dogs require patience and understanding.

Getting a new dog is a joyful experience for both dog and human. Just remember that there will be some adjustment time needed and that your dog will be ready to be a happy, active part of your family once they have had some time to adjust and relax. Be prepared, patient, and flexible and you will have a rewarding life as a rescue dog parent!


About the Author: Kevin Gardner works as a business consultant and unwinds by getting out of the office to spend time with his dogs, Stuart and Pepper. He enjoys writing about the things he’s learned as a pupper parent and loves to share his insights to help others.