10 Tips for the First 30 Days After Adopting a Dog (2023)

Reviewed for accuracy on February 12, 2019, by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM

Adopting a dog is exciting for both you and your new furry family member. The first several days in your home are special, and quite frankly, critical for your new dog. She is likely to be confused in a new environment and unsure of what to expect from you.

It is important to establish clear boundaries and maintain structure within your home to help create a smooth transition. Here are 10 tips to help guide you during the adjustment period after bringing a new dog home.

1. Be Patient With Your New Dog

When adopting a dog into your family, remember to be patient. It may take a dog time to get to know your family and really feel at home.

“Every dog is different,” says Sabine Fischer-Daly, DVM, the Janet L. Swanson intern of shelter medicine at Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University. “It may take some dogs a couple of days to get comfortable with their new family, while others may need a couple of months. Therefore, a dog’s true personality may not be apparent for some time after entering the home.”

Bringing a new dog home obviously comes with its rewards, but it’s important to remember that caring for a dog also comes with challenges.

Realistic expectations and understanding are key, Dr. Fischer-Daly explains. “Each dog’s response to a new home will vary. Some may hide, shy away or have accidents in the home, or have gastrointestinal upset or bouts of overexcitement and high energy, among many others.”

2. Establish a Routine and Structure

Having open communication between your family members before adopting a dog is essential. Aside from preparing areas of the home where the dog will spend her time, Dr. Fischer-Daly suggests discussing responsibilities with your family when it comes to caring for a dog.

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“Plan who will take on certain responsibilities, what’s allowed and what’s not allowed in the home, and what verbal commands will be used,” says Dr. Fischer-Daly.

Establishing a routine right when your dog gets into the home will help to make her feel safe and secure. So, plan on feeding your dog and walking your dog at the same times every day right from the get-go, Dr. Fischer-Daly says.

3. Introduce Your New Dog to Your Resident Dog Slowly

“Introducing animals is a slow process and may need to be done a little bit at a time,” Dr. Fischer-Daly explains.

When your new pet and your resident pet meet for the first time, make sure to do so outside the home, in neutral territory. You should also have a dog leashfor each dog to control the interactions.

During the introductory period, Dr. Fischer-Daly recommends creating separate eating spaces and removing potential items that could cause guarding or conflict. This will help to minimize tension and negative experiences between the dogs. She also warns against leaving the animals together unsupervised during the first few weeks.

Dr. Emma Grigg, MA, PhD., CAAB, a postdoctoral associate at the University of California, Davis, vet school, says you should “try to ensure that the resident pets are still getting plenty of your time and attention to avoid the development of problems between dogs.”

If you notice any signs of aggression from either pet, it’s important to intervene immediately. “If any real aggression is seen,” she says, “it is important to separate the new dog from the other animals and household members until you have come up with a plan to either modify the behavior, or if necessary, return/rehome the new addition.”

4. Crate Training Is Recommended

Dog cratesare wonderful tools to use for new dogs and are highly recommended by the experts. Crate training does not mean that the crate is used as punishment. It is about creating a safe space for your new dog where she can be safely contained while you are out.

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The goal is to use a dog crate—or dog gates—to create a confined and dog-proof area. The crate should be large enough for the dog to comfortably sit, stand up and turn around.

“When properly crate-trained, many dogs will see their crates as their ‘safe space’ and will sleep in an open crate regularly; they may also retreat to the crate when anxious,” Dr. Grigg explains. She recommends a good quality, suitably sized dog crate like the Midwest Life Stages single door dog crate. Before your purchase, be sure to follow manufacturer’s recommendations on sizing.

5. Provide Enrichment for Your New Dog

Having a variety of dog toysavailable, like dog chew toysand dog interactive toys, can have a positive influence on your dog’s mental health. These toys provide your new dog with positive outlets for her energy and help to redirect natural chewing behavior from household objects like furniture.

Be sure to supervise your dog with any new toys or any that are likely to become damaged. Dr. Fischer-Daly advises, “Chew toys should not break into pieces easily—which could get lodged in the intestines—but [should be] soft enough not to damage teeth.” She recommends the KONG Classic dog toy or KONG Ring dog toy. “A good test to ensure a toy is not too hard is to press the toy with a fingernail, and if a fingernail does not leave a mark, it is too hard,” she says.

“No toy is 100 percent indestructible,” Dr. Grigg says, “but there are certainly some that last longer.” She says her dog loves stuffed toys and recommends Tuffy’s Lil Oscar dog toy or Tuffy’s Ultimate Tug-O-War dog toy.

Dr. Griggs warns, “Also note that the size of the toy is very important—the toy must be large enough that it cannot be swallowed by your dog.”

6. A Good Dog Trainer Is a Great Resource

Getting training advice from a positive-reinforcement-based, reputable dog trainer will help strengthen the relationship you share with your dog.

“Training your dog on the essentials of how to coexist in a human-dominated world is essential, so it should be a primary focus for any new dog owner,” Dr. Grigg says.

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Avoid information from sources who recommend harsh punishments that rely on fear and/or pain. “These methods have been found to have unwelcome behavioral side effects—most notably increases in fear-based aggression—and compromise the welfare of the dogs involved.”

“It is important to work toward modifying undesirable behaviors promptly, before they become a habit,” Dr. Griggs explains. “But how you react to these behaviors and make these changes is very important for building a lifelong, happy and satisfying relationship with your dog.”

7. House-Train With Positive Reinforcement

As with all other dog training, it is important to remember to have realistic expectations and patience when house-training your dog.

Some may already be housebroken, but as Dr. Fischer-Daly explains, “It is possible that even a house-trained dog will have accidents when accustoming to a new home. Dogs can be overstimulated by the newness and may not know where to go.”

To remedy any unwanted indoor accidents, she says, “Take [your dog] out where she should be going to the bathroom often and give her instant reinforcement in the form of treats and praises for going in the appropriate place.” Both house and walking rules should be positively reinforced with dog treatsand praises.

8. Walk Your Dog Every Day

Before even leaving the house with your dog, make sure your dog has a dog collarwith dog ID tagson.

“If the dog pulls, use a front clip dog harnessor a Gentle Leader, learn how to use it correctly and start using it soon after you bring the dog into your home,” Dr. Fischer-Daly says.

Ideally, walk your dog a couple times every day, and as she says, do it around the same time each day to establish a routine.

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9. Establish a Relationship With a Veterinarian

In preparation for adopting a dog, it’s a good idea to establish a relationship with a local veterinarian before or soon after adoption, if you don’t have one already, Dr. Fischer-Daly explains.

“Soon after adoption, it is recommended that the dog gets an exam to have a baseline health evaluation and because stress can cause certain illnesses, such as diarrhea.”

10. Slowly Transition to a New Dog Food

You may plan to feed your new dog a different food from what he was eating at the shelter. If you do, there are some important things to keep in mind.

Dr. Fischer-Daly says, “Changing a dog’s diet abruptly, as well as stress, can cause gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea.”

Transitioning your dog to a new diet gradually is important to prevent unexpected consequences, like vomiting or nausea. If possible, Dr. Fischer-Daly recommends providing the same dog foodthat the shelter or rescue was feeding for a few days. Then gradually mix in the new dog food and reduce the amount of the old dog food until you have fully switched to the new food.

It is best to ask your veterinarian for her recommendation of the best food for your dog.

By Carly Sutherland

Image via iStock.com/LightFieldStudios

(Video) how to get rich in adopt me in 1 day! 😱 (real!)

FAQs

What is the 3 Day 3 Week 3 month rule? ›

The 3-3-3 rule is the first 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months after bringing your dog home from the shelter. So think about it, if you've ever started a new job or moved to a new school, you know the feeling; that sense of being in an unfamiliar place, new surroundings, new people, new rules.

How long do rescue dogs take to settle in to a new home? ›

It can take a few weeks or even months for a rescue dog to adjust properly to their new family and surroundings. However, if you provide them with the love and attention they need, they should eventually feel right at home.

How long does it take for a dog to adjust to a new owner? ›

There are some things we can do to help them settle and feel safe in those first few days. Keep in mind though, that it generally takes about three weeks for a dog or puppy to start to feel 'at home' and to show their true nature. This is an activity you should do before you get your dog or puppy home.

Is it normal to regret adopting a dog? ›

It's normal — especially for first-timers — to feel a bit overwhelmed. If you're questioning your decision or wondering how to cope with feelings of anxiety, regret, or guilt, please understand that these feelings are quite common and they almost always pass with a bit of time.

How traumatic is it for a dog to change owners? ›

In general, re-homing is a very stressful experience for dogs. It's common for dogs to undergo bouts of depression and anxiety, especially if they're coming from a happy home. They will miss their old owner and may not want to do much at all in their sadness over leaving.

What is the 3 3 dog rule? ›

Before you adopt shelter dogs, they say you should know the 3-3-3 rule. The 3-3-3 rule represents the phases of a rescue dog or common milestones your new dog or puppy will go through 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months after being adopted from a shelter.

How can you tell if a rescue dog is happy? ›

If their tail is always wagging, you've got a happy dog.

The clearest sign a dog loves you: their tail is wagging everytime you walk through the door. Whether you've been gone for the day or just a few minutes, a dog that wags their tail when they see you has most likely bonded with you.

Where should rescue dogs sleep first? ›

Your Rescue Dogs First Night

Your new dog is most likely going to be exhausted the first few nights. If at all possible, I recommend having your dog sleep in his crate at night. A crate will keep them safe and out of trouble when you are sleeping.

How long does it take for a dog to bond with a human? ›

Getting your dog to trust you can take time, practice, and a lot of consistency. You can expect anything from 2 weeks-2 months for this to happen.

How long do dogs miss their previous owners? ›

The answer is yes, your pet will, unfortunately, undergo an adjustment period and may experience shock or depression. But the good news is that most dogs are fully transitioned within three months, and will lead happy and healthy lives with their new loving families.

How do adopted dogs feel at home? ›

So keep things as quiet and consistent as possible for the first week or more. Feed and walk your dog, and come and go from work around the same times each day. When you do leave home, consider leaving your dog with an enrichment item, such as a stuffed treat toy or puzzle food bowl.

What should you not do when adopting a dog? ›

15 Surprising Mistakes People Make In The First Month After Adopting A Dog
  1. Trying To Do Too Much Too Soon. ...
  2. Going Straight To The Pet Store. ...
  3. Not Setting Aside Enough Time To Bond. ...
  4. Waiting To Train Them. ...
  5. Not Having The Right Food. ...
  6. Failing To Correct Bad Behavior. ...
  7. Introducing Them Immediately To Other Pets.
11 Apr 2018

What is the first thing to do when you bring a dog home? ›

The first day

Calmly introduce to your pup to your family members outside, one at a time. Limit visitors to prevent your dog from getting overwhelmed. Keep your pup leashed, and lead them into the house for a tour of each room. Stay close to home and do not go out on any major excursions.

What is a 2 week shutdown dog? ›

The Two Week Shut Down is a time familiar to a dog's mind -- it mimics the whelping box when first born-when the puppy's eyes are not open and it relies totally on the mother's ability to take care of it. By smelling, sensing, and listening, the puppy starts his journey into the new scary world.

What is second dog syndrome? ›

In dogdom, there's a turn of phrase called, "Second Dog Syndrome". This describes the process of adding another dog to the home quite well, but not necessarily in a positive light. As humans, we are bound to forget all of the time and effort it takes to raise a puppy right.

Is it normal to have second thoughts after adopting a dog? ›

It is very normal to have second thoughts about getting a dog. It takes patience and time for both you and the dog to learn to trust and love each other.

How long is a dog's memory? ›

Memory Span

"Dogs forget an event within two minutes," reported National Geographic, citing a 2014 study performed on various animals from rats to bees. Other animals have long-term memories, such as dolphins, but dogs don't seem to have a long-term memory that lasts much beyond those two minutes.

Why do dogs lick you? ›

Licking is a natural and instinctive behaviour to dogs. For them it's a way of grooming, bonding, and expressing themselves. Your dog may lick you to say they love you, to get your attention, to help soothe themselves if they're stressed, to show empathy or because you taste good to them!

Why do dogs spin before they poop? ›

When a dog circles round and round before he poops, he is doing several things. He is ensuring his safety, cleaning his spot, and leaving his calling card. Dogs communicate a lot of messages through their excretions and setting it up is important.

Should you rename a rescue dog? ›

“At most shelters, if an animal has a name you keep the name unless there's a good reason not to,” she says. Good reasons to change a pet's name include instances of past abuse. Shelters will also rename pets whose current name might prevent them from finding a forever home.

How do you rename a dog? ›

When your dog looks at you, say his name once then immediately give him a treat and say “Good!” in a very enthusiastic tone. (If you'll be training with a clicker, immediately click the clicker and give the treat.) Wait for your dog to look away then again say his name one time.

Do rescue dogs remember their past? ›

Thanks to semantic memory, dogs can easily remember things they learned years ago. If your rescue dog was trained before you met them, they won't suddenly forget those lessons once you adopt them. That training will stick with them even as the rest of their life changes.

What are signs that your dog trusts you? ›

Their body language is calm and relaxed in your presence
  • A slightly open mouth, with a relaxed, lolling tongue.
  • Rolling over for a belly rub (this shows they trust you)
  • Soft, relaxed facial expression.
  • Blinking eyes.
  • Tail wagging side to side.
  • A “bow” to invite and encourage play.

What should a dog do all day? ›

Your dog likely spends the day playing with their favorite toys and napping, eagerly awaiting your return. There's evidence to suggest that your dog's sense of time is actually an acute awareness of your scent! As your signature smell fades throughout the day, your dog may use it to estimate when you'll return home.

What does it mean when a dog sighs? ›

Another sound of contentment is the sigh, usually accompanied by the dog lying down with its head on its forepaws. When the sigh is combined with half-closed eyes, it communicates pleasure; with fully open eyes, it communicates disappointment: “I guess you are not going to play with me.”

Should you sleep in the same room as a rescue dog? ›

You may prefer for your adopted dog to sleep in the same room as or near your bedroom for the first few nights. If you are using a dog crate you can move this to your bedroom and then gradually move them to another area of the house as they become more settled.

Where should I keep my dog at night? ›

Regardless of the style of bed, dogs tend to like having a place or two to call their own. Even if you don't give them a specific bed, your dog may still find one or two nooks around your house where he can take a nap. A good dog bed can help him have an extra comfortable space to sleep overnight.

Should I put my rescue dog in a crate at night? ›

Put the crate in your bedroom or close to it when you start crating your dog at night, at least for a while. Rescue dogs are particularly vulnerable to feelings of isolation and fear, which they can experience if you put the crate too far away from you.

How dogs pick their favorite person? ›

Dogs choose their favorite people based on positive interactions and socialization they have shared in the past. Like humans, dogs are especially impressionable as their brains develop, so puppies up to 6 months old are in their key socialization period.

How do you tell if a dog doesn't like you? ›

The Top Behaviors and Signs Your Dog Doesn't Like You
  1. They cower or hide when you're around.
  2. They tuck their tail between their legs when they see you (and notably don't wag their tail)
  3. Their body stiffens, or fur stands up in your presence.
  4. They flatten their ears or arch their backs around you.
1 Jul 2022

What is the hardest puppy stage? ›

The most challenging time of raising a puppy is the adolescent period. Dogs become “teenagers” and seem to forget everything they have ever been taught. This period is individual to each dog, but it may begin when he's about eight months old and continue until he's two years old.

Do dogs remember their old name? ›

While dog memories may not work the same as ours, both scientific and anecdotal evidence indicates that they can remember their previous owners.

Do dogs worry about their owners? ›

In a new study from Sweden's Linköping University, researchers found dogs' stress levels were greatly influenced by their owners and not the other way around. Their findings suggest that “dogs, to a great extent, mirror the stress levels of their owners.”

Do dogs remember faces? ›

The result of the study found that dogs that live with families were more responses to human faces, and were more observant of familiar rather than unfamiliar human faces. It was concluded from this study that dogs are capable of facial recognition. Looks like there is no need to worry that you dog will forget you!

How do you make an adopted dog feel welcome? ›

8 Ways To Make Your Rescue Dog As Comfortable As Ever
  1. Make Sure the House is Dog-Proof. ...
  2. Keep Calm. ...
  3. Establish a Routine. ...
  4. Start Training Early. ...
  5. Make Them a Priority. ...
  6. Don't Be Pushy. ...
  7. Give Them Something to Call Theirs. ...
  8. Don't Be Stingy When it Comes to Food.

How do you make a rescue dog feel loved? ›

14 Ways to Get Your New Dog to Trust, Love, and Respect You
  1. Slow your roll. ...
  2. Give him his own space. ...
  3. Be your dog's protector. ...
  4. Yes, you can comfort your dog when she's afraid. ...
  5. Learn what your dog loves, and do more of it. ...
  6. Listen to what your dog is saying. ...
  7. Let her sleep in your bedroom. ...
  8. Use positive training methods.

How do I make my dog comfortable after adoption? ›

To help ease that stress, here are ten things you can do to ensure a smooth transition for everyone.
  1. Gather His Supplies. ...
  2. Prepare Your Home. ...
  3. Assign a Safe Space for Him. ...
  4. Plan How (and When) to Bring Him Home. ...
  5. Show Your Dog around the House. ...
  6. Explore the Yard on Leash. ...
  7. Introduce the Family. ...
  8. Switch Your Dog's Food Slowly.
26 Jan 2016

How do you gain a dog's trust? ›

Some ideas of activities that work to build trust with your dog include:
  1. Create positive associations with your presence by dropping a delicious treat every time you, or other family members, walk by your dog. ...
  2. When your dog is calm and relaxed, reinforce this behavior with praise and treats.
  3. Play, play, and more play!

Does sleeping with your dog create a bond? ›

Co-sleeping with your pet strengthens trust and bonds

An increased sense of trust between you and your pup has benefits for both of you! It will make communication and training that much easier while also helping both of you feel confident and secure in your relationship.

What are puppy blues? ›

The “puppy blues” refers to an emotional state of feeling overwhelmed, sadness, anxiety, or regret that many people experience after bringing home a new dog.

What is the 3 Day 3 Week 3 month rule? ›

The 3-3-3 rule is the first 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months after bringing your dog home from the shelter. So think about it, if you've ever started a new job or moved to a new school, you know the feeling; that sense of being in an unfamiliar place, new surroundings, new people, new rules.

How long do adopted dogs take to adjust? ›

It can take a shelter dog six to eight weeks or even more to fully adjust to a new home. Don't worry if their behavior doesn't fall into place right away. With love and patience, it will happen.

How long does it take for a dog to adjust to a new owner? ›

There are some things we can do to help them settle and feel safe in those first few days. Keep in mind though, that it generally takes about three weeks for a dog or puppy to start to feel 'at home' and to show their true nature. This is an activity you should do before you get your dog or puppy home.

What is the 333 rule for dogs? ›

Before you adopt shelter dogs, they say you should know the 3-3-3 rule. The 3-3-3 rule represents the phases of a rescue dog or common milestones your new dog or puppy will go through 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months after being adopted from a shelter.

Can dogs go all night without peeing? ›

Dogs can go for 8 to 10 hours without urinating overnight, while sleeping. However, all dogs need to be taken out after a meal or a drink, upon waking up and after a period of play. Health: Urinary frequency in dogs will vary due to factors such as age, sex, body size and overall health.

How do you settle a new dog at night? ›

Keep bedtime as calm as possible for your pup. Give them gentle praise (such as a few strokes) when they settle where you want them to. Sleep in the same room for the first few nights. For the first few nights, your puppy will need time to adjust to being without their mum.

How do you know if rescue dog feels at home? ›

How Do I Know If My Rescue Dog Is Happy?
  1. Your dog seeks eye contact in unfamiliar situations.
  2. Willing to work with you during training.
  3. Brings you lots of toys to play.
  4. Eats his food and drinks properly.
  5. Seeks out places to sleep close to you (or even on you)
  6. Comfortable body language when you approach him.
13 Nov 2021

Why won't my dog settle in another house? ›

Dogs may feel unsure or anxious about being in a new environment which can lead to behavioral issues that weren't a problem in the past. Pets may have trouble adjusting to a new home because they can also sense and feel their owners' emotions about moving. This can also result in territorial behavior in dogs.

How do you make a rescue dog feel at home? ›

8 Ways To Make Your Rescue Dog As Comfortable As Ever
  1. Make Sure the House is Dog-Proof. ...
  2. Keep Calm. ...
  3. Establish a Routine. ...
  4. Start Training Early. ...
  5. Make Them a Priority. ...
  6. Don't Be Pushy. ...
  7. Give Them Something to Call Theirs. ...
  8. Don't Be Stingy When it Comes to Food.

What are signs that your dog trusts you? ›

Their body language is calm and relaxed in your presence
  • A slightly open mouth, with a relaxed, lolling tongue.
  • Rolling over for a belly rub (this shows they trust you)
  • Soft, relaxed facial expression.
  • Blinking eyes.
  • Tail wagging side to side.
  • A “bow” to invite and encourage play.

How do I bond with my rescue dog? ›

Remain consistent and calm in dealings with the dog; stick to the schedule and things will settle again. To form a quick bond try feeding by hand/bag at least once a day preferably three times a day. If feeding from a bowl do not take food away at this stage in case the dog “guards” his food.

Should you rename a rescue dog? ›

“At most shelters, if an animal has a name you keep the name unless there's a good reason not to,” she says. Good reasons to change a pet's name include instances of past abuse. Shelters will also rename pets whose current name might prevent them from finding a forever home.

What is the first thing to do when you bring a dog home? ›

The first day

Calmly introduce to your pup to your family members outside, one at a time. Limit visitors to prevent your dog from getting overwhelmed. Keep your pup leashed, and lead them into the house for a tour of each room. Stay close to home and do not go out on any major excursions.

Should I put my rescue dog in a crate at night? ›

Put the crate in your bedroom or close to it when you start crating your dog at night, at least for a while. Rescue dogs are particularly vulnerable to feelings of isolation and fear, which they can experience if you put the crate too far away from you.

How long does it take a rescue dog to bond? ›

You can gauge the time it might take for your dog to fully acclimate to his home in threes: three days, three weeks, three months (Drs. London and McConnell)1. We think of that first 3 days (at a minimum) as the initial “detox period” as the dog transitions from the shelter to your home.

What to give dogs to calm them down? ›

Give them calming supplements.

Chamomile, pet-friendly CBD oils, and melatonin are all good options for helping lower your dog's heart rate. Check with your veterinarian before giving your dog any over-the-counter supplements to ensure you're giving your dog the correct dose.

Do rescue dogs remember their past? ›

Thanks to semantic memory, dogs can easily remember things they learned years ago. If your rescue dog was trained before you met them, they won't suddenly forget those lessons once you adopt them. That training will stick with them even as the rest of their life changes.

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