5 Tips for the First Week After Adopting an Adult Dog

Guest Post By Richard Cross | 

 Settling In Your Rescue Dog

Adopting a rescue dog is a wonderful moment for both you and your new pet. Giving a dog a second chance at a loving home is one of the most rewarding experiences for any animal lover.
It’s important to remember that adoption is stressful for a dog though. He or she must suddenly adapt to a new environment, family, and routine. The stress of their previous kennel life can also take a long time to resolve.

For this reason, it’s important to minimise anxiety during the crucial first few weeks. Here are five tips for helping your pet settle into their new home.

Labrador Grey Silhouette

1. Be Prepared for “Teething” Troubles

It’s unrealistic to expect an adopted dog to fit into your lifestyle without any behavioural issues. Some common examples include attention barking, destructive chewing, and a temporary loss of house training.

While you can’t always predict how a dog will behave in a new home, the important thing is to have realistic expectations. Don’t expect your new dog to be perfect – they’ll need plenty of love, positive reinforcement training and patience.

Never resort to punishment or shouting to try and resolve unwanted behaviors. Aside from being less effective than positive training, punishment can damage your bond.

Dog paw print

Tip: Look for a dog trainer who specialises in both positive reinforcement training and rescue dogs. They’ll be able to help you through the initial weeks, while teaching you how to manage and resolve any issues.


 5 Tips for the First Week After Adopting an Adult Dog


2. Establish a Routine From Day One

Dogs feel more settled when they have a consistent routine. Knowing when it’s time to eat, play, sleep, and go for a walk means less uncertainty to worry about.

For this reason, the sooner you establish a routine, the easier it’ll be for your new pet to feel at home. This is especially important for rescue dogs, who are likely to feel anxious in a new environment.

To start with, try to give your dog his dinner at the same time each day, as this is many dog’s favourite part of the day! Walks, bedtime, and play sessions should also be at roughly the same time.

 Labrador Grey Silhouette

3. Listen to the Shelter’s Advice

The shelter should be aware of potential issues with a dog. These could include anxiety around other dogs, separation anxiety, or resource guarding. Some of these issues can be resolved through positive reinforcement training, while others just need to be managed.

It’s vital to listen to advice the shelter gives you about how to manage these issues.  Some owners want to “test” their new dog’s behavior, but this is a mistake. Remember, behavioural issues are often magnified when a dog moves to a new home.


5 Tips for the First Week After Adopting an Adult Dog

4. Dog Proof Your Home

Make sure your home and garden are dog-safe before bringing home your new pet. There are many potential dangers, but some important ones include:

• Safely store any dangerous cleaning chemicals in a cupboard the dog can’t access.

• Check all house plants are safe for dogs (many aren’t!)

• Hide any electrical wires and pick up potential choking hazards.

• Install baby gates for rooms or stairs that you don’t want your pet to access.

• Create a “safe space” for your dog to retreat when they want some quiet time.

You should also make sure your dog is safe and comfortable. You’ll need items like a high-quality dog bed, toys, leash, collar with ID tag, food and water bowls, and possibly a crate if suitable for your dog.

Aside from the basics, extras like blankets and plenty of towels can be useful. A doggie doormat, like those recommended here, can also help to keep your home cleaner.

Dog paw print

Tip: It’s a good idea to ask the shelter which food the dog is currently eating. This allows you to buy the same brand and type, to avoid unnecessary stomach upsets. If you want to change the food, make sure you do this gradually to give the digestive system time to adapt.

Labrador Grey Silhouette 

5. Don’t Overwhelm Your Pet

The calmer you can keep your new dog, the easier it’ll be for him to feel relaxed. Keep all introductions low-key, as too much excitement is stressful for any dog.

You should also let the dog approach family members when he’s ready, rather than forcing an interaction.

Another tip is to avoid having visitors until your dog is settled. Meeting lots of new people can cause anxiety in a dog, while also confusing them about who is a permanent member of the household.


 Springer Spainel



It can take a long time for an adopted dog to feel comfortable in a new home. In some cases, the process can take several months.

You can help this process by being prepared for behavioural problems, only using positive training methods, and establishing a consistent routine. You should also ensure that interactions are as calm as possible and listen to the shelter’s advice about your pet.


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Guest Post By Richard Cross

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Richard Cross

Richard is a dog enthusiast and head editor at He’s been fascinated by dogs since a young age and, like most dog lovers, can’t imagine life without a canine companion.

He setup this website to share his experience with other dog owners. His goal is to help people develop an even stronger bond with their dogs, whilst promoting kind and compassionate training methods.


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