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Help Your New Dog Adjust to Their Home

10 Tips to Help Your New Dog Adjust to Your Home

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Getting a new dog is an extremely rewarding experience, but just like bringing any pet home there's going to be an adjustment period. And like us our dogs love having a routine, so being consistent during the first few will be an important part of hlping your dog adjust. 

Whether you just got a new puppy or adopted an older dog you can expect them to take a few days to settle in. These tips tips will help make that transition easier on your dog. Here's how to help your new dog adjust to your home. 

How to Help Your New Dog Adjust to Your Home

These tips will help your new dog settle into their new home, and they'll increase the bond you form with your new dog. It might take a day or two, or it might take months - each dog comes with their own personality and experiences. Going from the shelter environment o a home is a big transition, so don't be discouraged if your dog takes awhile to get comfortable in your home. 

To ease the transition here's 10 tips to help your new dog adjust to your home. 

1. Give Your Dog Time to Decompress By Starting Slowly

You can help your new dog adjust to your home by taking it slow. He'll appreciate some one on one time getting to know his new family and surroundings. Let him explore the house and yard at his own pace. 


Some dogs take awhile to adjust to new settings, and sometimes that can be exhausting for them. If you adopted your dog from a shelter realize that he just came from a noisy and stressful environment; your quiet and cozy home is likely the first place he's gotten a good sleep in awhile.


Don't over stimulate your dog during the first couple days. If your dog is a bit standoffish just let them check things out for themselves. If they come up to you for attention by all means be as affectionate as they seem comfortable with.


Not all dogs bond immediately with a new owner - don't take it personally. They're in a brand new environment getting use to new sights, smells, and sounds. It can be a stressful time for your new dog so try to make them as comfortable as possible by keeping things calm and positive.

2. Give Your Dog His Own Space

One way you can help make your new dog more comfortable is by providing him with his own comfy bed or safe spot where he can retreat to when he's tire or overwhelmed. Some dogs need a little extra time to just chill out every once in a while, especially with all the stress of being in a completely new environment.


If your new dog isn't in the mood to cuddle or play you can try giving him something to do on his own by offering a food dispensing toy or stuffed Kong. By offering yummy treats in a Kong you're showing your new dog that you're the provider of awesome things. I's a simple way to build trust, and if your dog is feeling uneasy in his new situation he might appreciate having a nice treat on his own.





3. Be Prepared For Stomach Issues When Changing Diets

Diarrhea is common among newly adopted dogs, either from stress or sudden dietary changes. You can ask the shelter or rescue which food your dog has been eating to help prevent an upset stomach from a sudden change in diet. If you're not a fan of the brand they've been feeding you can switch but you may want to consider slowly transitioning them over to a new food by mixing some of the old in with the new. 

Stress from moving into a new environment can cause diarrhea in newly adopted dogs. Ease their stress by taking things slowly the first week and giving them time to adapt. If your dog has diarrhea for more than a few days consult your veterinarian. 

4. Dogs May Lose Their Appetite in New Surroundings

The stress from being in a new environment can cause dogs to lose their appetite. If you've adopted a shy dog they might need a few days before they're comfortable enough to eat a normal meal. A new diet or change in food can also cause a dog to refuse to eat. A dog won't starve himself, as long as your dog is healthy he'll learn to adapt to his new diet.

If you're concerned about your dogs appetite offer them a piece of high value food such as chicken or ham. If they'll readily eat high value food they're likely just going through an adjustment period. If your dog won't take high value food after a day or two it's time to check with your veterinarian. 

5. Make It Easier In The Long Run By Keeping Your Routine

Dog's thrive on routine, and the sooner your new dog learns how your home functions the more comfortable he'll be.

You can help your new dog adjust to your home by:

  • Feeding at the same time every day

  • Going outside for potty breaks consistently

  • Going for your daily walk at the same time

  • Going to bed around the same time each night 

This also includes exercise time, cuddle time or any other daily games or activities he'll be involved with. He'll feel more secure once he starts learning your routine and what is expected of him at any given time. 

I know many owners want to spend as much time as possible with their new dog, and that's wonderful. But try to incorporate at least some of your normal activities into the day during those first few weeks to help your dog adjust to what will become his normal routine.


6. Supervise Your New Dog

If your dog is already crate trained you might want to consider leaving him crated while you go to work, and this is especially true if you have other animals at home. Some dogs can become destructive or overly anxious when left alone. If you are not sure how your new dog will react when left alone crating is a good way to have some peace of mind while you're t work. Just remember to introduce your dog to their crate slowly, and make it a positive experience for them. When introduced properly a crate becomes a relaxing place for your dog. 

7. You May Have a Few House Training Issues

Puppies will need to be house trained, but you can also expect a few house training issues with newly adopted dogs as well. 

You and your newly adopted dog aren't automatically going to be on the same schedule, so be prepared for a few accidents during the first coupe of weeks. Your new dog might be getting fed more than usual and he very well might be drinking a lot more. Make sure you take him out regularly to decrease the likelihood of any accidents. 

8. Beware of Escape Attempts

When going outdoors keep your new dog on a leash at all times. When in a new environment some dogs will have a tendency to try and run away or escape. Don't leave your new dog unsupervised in a fenced yard since dogs can dig under or jump over fences. Until you know your dog is comfortable with you and will come back when called it's best to keep them leashed at all times when outdoors. 


9. Don't Overwhelm Them if They're Anxious

I know it's tempting to introduce your new dog to all of your friends & family right away by inviting everyone over, but make sure your dog is comfortable in your home first. Some dogs can get overstimulated and excited by all that excitement, and some are extremely nervous around strangers. If your dog shows any signs of discomfort take it slow. Make sure they have access to their own safe space or area that they can retreat to if they get overwhelmed.


The same goes for trips to the park or store. Until your dog is comfortable around you take it easy when introducing them to new areas.


10. Be Patient With Your New Dog

Imagine yourself in your dogs shoes (or paws) for a moment - surrounded by strangers in a new place where everything is unknown. It's a bit scary to say the least. Your dog is an individual with a history all their own. Some dogs came from a nice loving home and might find it easier to adapt - others have been waiting for years at a shelter.


Take it slow and mke it easier on them by giving them space when needed. Give them some time to settle in and get comfortable with their new surroundings. It may seem like a slow process, but it won't take long until your adopted dog becomes your new best friend. 

Don't Get Discouraged if it Takes Awhile

Please don't be discouraged if your new dog doesn't warm up to you on his first night home. Just like us dogs have their own personalities. Your dog might adjust to his new home in an hour, or it might take months. Give your new dog some patience, a steady schedule, and his own space and he'll start to feel settled in his new environment. Your new dog will be your best friend before you know it. 


When bringing home your new dog it's important to give him his own dedicated space. Somewhere safe that he can go to if he starts to feel stressed out, tired, or overwhelmed.


Be sure to supervise your new dog when outside until you're confident they won't try to escape. Many dogs are able to jump 6 foot fences, and a lot more can dig under them. When dogs enter a new environment thy can become stressed out & fearful, and that can lead to escape attempts. 

Help Your New Dog Adjust

Doggy Supply Checklist

  • Food and water bowls.

  • Food appropriate for your dog's age and health requirements. Slowly transition to new brand of food when possible to prevent stomach upset.

  • Adjustable collar.

  • Harness for walking.

  • Four to six-foot leash (we do NOT recommend retractable leashes). 

  • ID tag with your phone number.

  • Hard plastic carrier or foldable metal crate. When picking out a crate for puppy, look for one with a moveable divider. The crate space should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lay down. If puppy goes potty in their crate, it may be too big. 

  • Dog bed or blankets. You may want to use old towels at first if your puppy is being potty trained or likes to chew apart dog beds.

  • Doggy shampoo and conditioner, these are specially formulated to be safe on your dog's skin and coat. 

  • Nail clippers.

  • Canine toothbrush and toothpaste.

  • Brush or comb (depends on your pet's coat length and type). Talk to a groomer about starting proper care techniques early if your dog will require regular grooming. 

  • Super-absorbent paper towels for cleaning messes. 

  • Enzymatic odor neutralizer/cleaner. We like Nature's Miracle products.

  • Poop baggies (biodegradable ones are best) and/or pooper scooper.

  • Absorbent house-training pads. Some puppies will just shred these, so don't go overboard on buying these until you know! 

  • Variety of toys (a ball, rope, chew toy and puzzle toy are good starts). 

  • Variety of treats (such as small soft training treats, crunchy treats, larger chewies such as bully sticks, etc.)

  • Treat bag that clips on to your waist-great for training! 

  • First-aid kit.

  • Baby gate(s) for blocking off areas. gates are helpful when first bringing your dog home, regardless of age. 

  • Medications from your vet- such as flea & tick prevention. 

Doggy Supply Checklist

Dog Introductions

Dog Introductions brought to you by Wisconsin Humane Society

Introducing Your New Dog to Your Resident Dog


Adding another dog to your household can bring you and your current dog more fun and companionship. However, it's important to realize that your current dog might feel similar to how you might feel if your parents picked your friends and then told you to share your toys with them. In the long run, things will probably work out fabulously, but in the beginning it's a very smart idea to take a few extra steps to make everyone feel good about the new arrangement. This handout provides some guidelines for smooth and safe introductions and ensuring that your dogs' relationship gets off to a great start. 

Maximizing the potential for a great relationship between your new dog and your current dog is a two-step process. It involves the actual introduction process and then management of the new dog in your home. If you have more than one resident dog in your household, it may be best to introduce the resident dogs to the new dog one at a time. Two or more resident dogs may have a tendency to "gang up" on the newcomer. 


Introduction Techniques:


Choose a Neutral Location: Introduce the dogs in a neutral location so that your resident dog is less likely to view the newcomer as a territorial intruder. Each dog should be handled by a separate person. With both dogs on a leash, take them to an area with which neither is familiar, such as a park or a neighbor's yard. If you frequently walk your resident dog in a park near your house, she may view that park as her territory, so choose another site that's unfamiliar to her. We recommend bringing your resident dog with you to the shelter and introducing the dogs before adopting the new dog. 

Use Positive Reinforcement: From the first meeting, you want both dogs to expect "good things" to happen when they're in each other's presence. Let them sniff each other, which is normal canine greeting behavior. While they are sniffing it is important to keep the leash loose so there is slack. Tension in the leash could cause unwanted tension in the greeting. As they sniff, talk to them in a happy, friendly tone of voice- never use a threatening tone of voice. Keep the intial greeting short, only a few seconds and then separate, standing 10-20 feet apart. Don't allow them to investigate and sniff each other for a prolonged time, as this may escalate to an aggressive response. Once separated you can give treats for calm behavior or in return for following a cue such as "sit" or "shake". If your dog is unable to offer a basic cue or is not taking this normally favorite treats, those are signs your dog's stress level has risen. Give yourself some additional space before attempting another greeting. If bodies are loose and no signs of aggression are seen, take the dogs for a walk and let them sniff and investigate each other at intervals. Continue with the "happy talk", food rewards and simple cues. 

Be Aware of Body Postures: One body posture that indicates things are going well is a "playbow". One dog will crouch with her front legs on the ground and her hind end in the air. This is an invitation to play that usually elicits friendly behavior from the other dog. Watch carefully for body postures that indicate an aggressive response, including a tall and stiff legged gait, a prolonged stare, teeth-bring or deep growls. If you see such postures, interrupt the interaction immediately by calmly and positively getting each dogs interest in something else. For example, both handlers can call their dogs to them, have them sit or lie down and reward each with a treat. The dogs will become interested in the treats which will prevent the situation from escalating into aggression. Try letting the dogs interact again, but this time for a shorter time period and/or at a greater distance for each other. 

Taking the Dog Home: When the dogs seem to be tolerating each other's presence without fearful or aggressive responses and the investigative greeting behaviors have tapered off, you can take them home. Whether you choose to take them in the same, or different vehicles, will depend on their size, how well they ride in the car, how trouble-free the initial introduction has been and how many dogs are involved. However, the dogs will need to be kept separated by physical barrier such as a crate. 

Introducing Puppies to Adult Dogs: Puppies usually pester adult dogs unmercifully. Before the age of four months, puppies my not recognize subtle body postures from adult dogs signaling that they've had enough. Well socialized adult dogs with good temperaments may set limits with puppies with a growl or snarl. These behaviors are normal and should be allowed. Adult dogs that aren't well socialized, or that have a history of fighting with other dogs, may attempt to set limits with more aggressive behaviors, such as biting, which could harm the puppy. For this reason, a puppy shouldn't be left alone with an adult dog until your confident the puppy isn't in any danger. Be sure to give the adult dog some quite time away from the puppy, and some individual attention. 

The first Couple of Weeks at Home


  • It's crucial to avoid squabbles during the early stages of your dogs' new relationship. Picking up all toys, chews, food bowls and your current dog's favorite items. When dogs are forming a relationship, these things can cause rivalry. These items can be reintroduced after a couple of weeks, once the dogs have started to develop a good relationship. 

  • Give each dog his own water and food bowls, bed and toys. For the first few weeks only give the dogs toys or chews when they are separated in their crates or confinement areas.

  •  Feed the dogs in completely separate areas. Pick up bowls when feeding time is over. (Some dogs will compete over bowls that recently contained food.) 

  • Keep the dogs' playtime and interactions brief to avoid overstimulation and over arousal, which can lead to fighting. 

  • Confine the dogs in separate areas of your home whenever you're away or can't supervise their interactions.

  • Give your new dog his own confinement area. When the dogs are separated, it might be a good idea to let them get to know each other through a barrier, like a baby gate. Your new dog should be gated in his confinement area, and your current dog should be free to move around and visit when he wants to.

  • When the dogs are interacting, interrupt any growling or bullying behavior with a phrase like "Too bad", and then quickly separate them for several minutes. Then allow them to be together again. be sure to sincerely praise your dogs when they are interacting nicely. 

  • Spend time individually with each dog. Give each of them training time with you and playtime with other dogs outside of your home. 

  • If your dogs are very different in age or energy level, be sure to give the older or less energetic one his own private space where he can enjoy rest and down time. In addition you will want to give the younger or more energetic dog increased physical and mental exercise. 

Dog Introductions
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