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Four Ways to Help Your Rescue Dog Adjust to a New Home

The face of rescue pets

Welcoming your new four-legged family member home can be a heartwarming experience, and giving an older dog a second chance at a great life is a commendable thing to do. As great an experience as it can be, it’s important to keep in mind that, although your new pet will soon realize he’s in a safe place, the rapid change of environment can be an overwhelming experience in the beginning. On the bright side, there are ways to help your new friend adjust to his new home and start feeling like a welcomed member of the pack.

Use What You Know

If you got your new pet from a previous owner, you’ll probably have a good idea of what his history entails, and the more you can find out, the easier it will be on the pup. What kind of food he has been accustomed to, if he gets along with other animals,whether he’s an indoor or an outdoor kind of dog, if there are any medical concerns, what games he enjoys playing, and anything else that can help you know what to expect is good to find out ahead of time in order to help move the adjustment period along.

On the other hand, if you got your dog from an animal shelter or a humane society, the history will be pretty sparse, but you will be able to take the shelter employees observations into account. While shelters tend to vaccinate and check for a few things, it’s still important to get your pet looked at by a veterinarian to make sure the general health is in satisfactory condition.

Allow Plenty of Bonding Time

Avoid picking your dog up on a night when you have to work the next day, and instead, try to work out the adoption date for when you have a couple of days off to fully dedicate your time to familiarizing your dog with the household. By surrounding your new canine pal with lots of attention, you’ll help him realize that he’s wanted and accepted.  Most dogs are pack-oriented, so the more time you have to bond with your dog, the faster he will start to feel included in the family.

Assert Your Authority but Be Encouraging

For everyone’s well-being, it’s important to let your dog know that you’re in charge from the beginning. If your dog practices an undesirable behavior, show your disapproval by speaking firmly, but when your dog acts in a positive way, show encouragement and praise. It’s important to teach your dog the intended boundaries you wish for him to follow, but it’s even more important to allow him to feel a sense of community with all the members of the household. If you don’t intentionally give out positive reinforcement, it will be extremely hard for your dog to feel welcomed.

Establish a Routine

To help your dog feel settled and established in his new territory, it’s important to establish a routine; this will help your dog know what to expect, and in turn, feel less anxious about the future. At first, it’s normal for your dog to have a bit of separation anxiety when left alone, but as long as you’re consistent with bathroom breaks, feeding habits, and exercise time, he will start feeling more stable with his surroundings.

It’s rewarding to see the transition a dog makes from when he first enters a new home to when he finally settles in and accepts his role in the family. Some dogs adjust easier than others, but as long as you leverage what you know, frequently work on bonding, stay authoritative as well as encouraging, establish a consistent routine, and most of all, express unconditional love and patience, your dog will have no choice but to learn to relax and enjoy his new home.


Ron Rutherford is a writer who enjoys spending the summer days hiking with his four-legged best friends.

He currently freelances for the wireless dog fence provider, Havahart Wireless.

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