You've Adopted a Dog: What's Next?

You’ve gone through the application process, and you’ve adopted the perfect dog for you! It’s now time to start your new lives together. Everything probably feels like it’s too good to be true, and it likely is. Both you and your new pup will need some time to adjust, but if you know what to expect, the trials and tribulations can be easier to handle as they arise.

Prepare your Home

Before you even bring your pet home, you’ll need to make sure that everything is properly set up. You’ll need all the basic supplies for your dog to feel welcomed and like he’s finally found a home. In addition to getting proper food and treats, you’ll also need toys, bedding, and grooming supplies as well as a leash and a collar.

After you have all of the supplies, you’ll need to decide where to put them. Decide where you want your new dog to sleep. You may choose to let them sleep in your room on their own bed. Some pet parents choose to let their dogs sleep in their beds with them while other pet owners will have their dog sleep in crates to keep them out of nighttime trouble.

You’ll also need to think about where and when you want to feed them, where their toys will be stored, and where you want to keep the leash for walks. Regardless of what you choose, it’s important to stay consistent. A regular routine and constant environment will help your dog feel more confident in his or her new surroundings.

In addition to having established places for your dog’s items, make sure that your area is pet approved. You should check for any wires that might be chewed on, and you might consider installing baby gates to keep your pooch out of areas they shouldn’t be in.

Prepare your Family

If you’re at the stage where you’re about to bring your new furry pet home, then likely your family has already met your new dog. However, it’s important to touch base on your game plan, especially for kids. They’ll need to know what the expectations are for interactions in the coming days.

For younger children, it might be difficult for them to stay calm. However, the calmer your family is, the calmer your pup will be when they arrive. Your dog will likely be excited and nervous, so staying calm and using soft tones will be necessary to show him or her that this is a safe place.

For your furry family, it’s best for dogs to meet outside of their home. This will allow them to get used to each other before your new dog is introduced. It might be a good idea to take the dogs for walks together in the days leading up to your pup coming home for the first time.

Bringing your Dog Home

When your new pup comes home, the first thing you should do is introduce them to their new family members. You should make sure that all of your family members (furry and human) are calm before you reintroduce them. You may consider keeping your new dog in a crate or a cage until everyone can calm down.

For cats, make sure that your cat has a chance to interact with your dog in a safe way. This may mean keeping your dog in a crate for their first meeting. It’s important to provide your cat a mode of escape if necessary.

Once everyone is getting along, let your new dog explore, or you can show them around. Make sure they know where their water dish is. If you have a yard, let them explore that area as well.

Start your New Routine

After your pup has been given the tour, it’s time to start adjusting. You’ve prepared your home and your family, now you need to start following the new routine.

Make sure you are consistent about letting them outside and taking them for walks. Be prompt with feeding time, and make sure that they have plenty of exercise.

Pay attention to your dog’s cues. If they are acting scared, give them a break. Let them go back to an area where they are comfortable. That may be their new bed, or it might be their crate. It might even be hiding.

In the early days, it’s a good idea to make sure your pup is always supervised. This way they can learn the rules of the house, and if there are any mistakes, you can start to correct the behavior before it becomes a habit.


It’s best to start training your dog as soon as possible. You want to make your pup feel comfortable, and a lot of dogs respond well to structure and routine. Start working on basic commands, even when dogs know them already. Telling him or her to sit before a meal will help you establish you’re the leader.

For more intensive training, it’s a good idea to make sure your dog has plenty of exercise beforehand. Once all of their physical energy has been released, their minds are more likely to respond to training.


In the days after you’ve brought your dog home, you’ll want to make sure that your dog has a collar with a tag that has all of your information on it. This is important in the event that your pet breaks loose on a walk or gets out of the fence.

You may also consider microchipping your pet for similar reasons.

Uncommon Behaviors

Many dogs that are brought to shelters are strays or pets that were abandoned, so it’s possible that your dog will have some issues that arise. As some strays are used to living on their own, they may take a longer time to warm up to you. They will require a lot of patience and consistent routines.

Strays may also look for an escape, so these dogs who seem to take longer to adjust, it’s important they are put in the crate unless they are supervised. They shouldn’t be let off-leash until they have mastered basic return commands.

Dogs that were surrendered by their previous owners may have developed anxiety from their experience. In some cases, these dogs (and strays as well) may develop separation anxiety, which is actually pretty common.

Separation anxiety can present itself in a variety of ways. Some dogs will whine when you leave, some will chew excessively, and others will completely destroy whatever they can. The good news is, in most cases, separation anxiety can be cured, or at the very least, managed.

Final Thoughts

While your new pet may take awhile to adjust or might develop issues, you and your pup will eventually get your routine down. Once that’s established, you’ll have plenty of time to bond, so you both can have a long and happy life together.



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