Bringing Your Adopted Dog Home

Have you just adopted a new dog?  Or, maybe you’ve decided on adopting a new pup and want to prepare before they come home.  You’ve made a great choice, but how can you help your pup settle in?  


There are a few things you can do before your furry friend arrives, and a few ways you can prevent symptoms of separation anxiety and make your pup feel comfortable in their new home. 


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How can you prepare for your dog’s arrival?

Before your pup comes home, you should do your best to prepare.  Make sure to put away anything a puppy could reach but shouldn’t.  After getting a few basic items, you’ll have to make a few choices too, such as if you want to crate train your new friend or not. 

Gather the basics

Once you’ve dog-proofed your home, you’ll have to get a few basic supplies together to keep your dog happy.


Some of these would include:

  • Collar and leash
  • Food and water bowls
  • Toys
  • Crate or playpen 

Don’t feel pressured to go overboard on these supplies!  There’s no need to get all of the toys at the store for your new friend.  Consider getting toys that would stimulate your dog mentally and others that are better for exercise.  


You may also want to check on what type of food your dog has been fed before coming to you.  That way you can prevent your dog from getting an upset stomach from switching foods too quickly; if you do want to have your pup eat new foods, you can phase to the new stuff gently by incorporating it slowly into your pup’s diet.  


Consider a crate

If you do decide to crate train your dog, click here to take a look at our recommendations!  Crate training can help keep your dog contained, safe, and even help prevent separation anxiety.  It’s also a great way to provide a den-like space for your dog to retreat to whenever needed. 


You’ll most likely want a small space for your dog to go to even if you’re not planning to crate train your pup.


IDs for your new friend

You may receive an ID tag for your dog if you’re adopting.  If you aren’t expecting one or want extra information on the tag, feel free to have one made before you pick up your pooch!  Consider making plans on microchipping your dog if that’s something you’d like to pursue. 


You’ve brought your dog home - now what?

Now that your new best friend is home, there are a few steps you can take to make the adjustment as smooth as possible!  


  1. Settle in

Moving to a new home would be exhausting and overwhelming for any human - and the same could be said about dogs.  As cute as your new dog may be, try not to hold onto them too much and give them the space they may need to explore and get used to their new surroundings.


Once you’re in your home with your new furry friend, let them go through the area.  Feel free to follow along of course, but let your pup come to you on their own when they’re ready.  Consider having a small space, possibly even a crate, for your dog to retreat into as their “den” space.


  1. Prepare them for spending time alone

Encouraging independent behavior can help keep your dog from developing separation anxiety later on.  Using puzzle games to stimulate your pup mentally and independently can help promote confidence.  Consider trying search games with your pup to encourage them to get comfortable in the home and to complete goals on their own.  



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  1. Training time

Once your pup seems to be settling in, it’s a good time to start teaching your dog basic manners and expectations.  If you’ve never trained a dog before, you may want to sign up for a local class or read up on a few books on training dogs.  


Classes can help socialize your dog with others, so you may find this extra helpful if you plan on adding another dog into your home in the future. 


  1. Reevaluate your routine

After a few weeks, once your pup is picking up on training and is comfortable in your home, you should start seeing your dog’s personality coming through.  What may have been a quiet, timid pup when they first came home could now be an energetic, excitable dog.  


Extra exercise can give your dog some relief from restlessness, especially if they’re showing signs like chewing and digging at items in your home.  These could also be signs of anxiety; if these signs continue after 10 days, they may need supplemental help. 


Here’s a breakdown of what the first 30 days of having your new pup home may look like:


Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Have basic needs (collar, leash, food, toys) ready


Begin basic training

Be watchful for signs of restlessness or anxiety

Engage your dog in mental stimulation with puzzle toys and play

Establish a routine for the new pup to get used to

Consider looking for a trainer or local classes

Reevaluate what your pup needs

Introduce dog to more friends and family members

Give your dog alone time by gradually leaving for longer periods of time

Desensitize your pup from touch in preparation of future vet and grooming visits

Change up routine if needed by adding exercise, play breaks, and walks

Prepare your furry friend for routines specific to you - like travel or car rides 



Shelter-related anxiety

Your pup may be nervous when switching from a shelter environment to a new home.  Your home may be less stimulating, with not as much noise to hear and smells to smell.  It’s a tough transition, but you can make it easier for them!


Routine is key

A great way to keep your pup from feeling too overwhelmed is to have structure.  Routine will not only let your dog know what you expect from them but also what they should expect from you! Try your best to keep mealtimes and walks at around the same times every day.


Adjusting to a new environment also hinges on a routine. The pup’s ability to know what is expected provides him with a sense of comfort. He wants to please. He wants to know what’s going to happen next. Establish a routine as quickly as possible, setting house rules that your dog or puppy can understand.”


Create a bond

Ensure your pup is getting plenty of one-on-one time with you too.  When you first bring your dog home, try to make it during a time you’ll be able to stay home for a few days so you can spend time together during the first crucial moments.  


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As mentioned earlier, give your pup space and let them come to you.  It may be best to start in a confined space while your pup gets comfortable.  Much like human relationships, your dog’s relationship is built on trust; the more trust your pup has in you the stronger the bond will be.  


Anxiety continues 

If signs of anxiety like restlessness, excessive barking, and digging last longer than a week, you may want to consider supplements for your pup.  These can help calm your pup while you’re away from home as well, keeping anxiety-related destructive behavior like digging and chewing to a minimum.  



You’ve got this!

Congratulations on bringing in your furry friend into your home.  Every dog is different but these tips should help you gently introduce your dog to their new environment and avoid too much stress in the process.  Don’t worry if your pup doesn’t seem to immediately bond to you; being a little standoffish is normal when dogs are settling in at a new home.  


If you’re ever concerned about long-lasting symptoms of anxiety, consider reaching out to your vet to talk about next steps.  You can also click here to view our other recommendations when it comes to anxiety in dogs.  

Resources:

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/high-tech-identifying-lost-pets-microchips


https://www.puppyleaks.com/9-tips-help-adopted-senior-dog-adjust-new-home/ 


https://www.rover.com/blog/how-to-bond-with-a-rescue-dog/


https://www.rover.com/blog/first-30-days-with-dog/


http://www.texasanimalguardians.org/help-rescue-dog-bond-adjust/