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  • Writer's pictureNichole Petrie

Bringing Home Your New Shelter/ Rescue Dog

Below are some helpful tips for your first day(s) with dog. When you first arrive home, there will be so much going on with your new furry one, that they will be a little overwhelmed and/or frightened by their new surroundings. Try to keep the excitement to a low. Play calm music such as reiki or zen music found on YouTube to help their anxiety.

Have these essential items already purchased for your new family member. Leash, collar, water bowl, feeding bowl, 2-3 toys(chew toys, benebone, bully sticks, frozen raw bones and Himalayan chews), crate(optional but a great idea to help with training), treats, proper food, dog bed and blankets.

Have a little bag of treats with you during the first couple of hours when you get home. Feel free to treat them when they do something you approve of such as training cues like SIT, COME, DOWN, and so on.

If you have a previous dog in the home, take your dog outside (with a lead) in the front yard or neutral grounds such as a park, for proper introductions and a group walk.

GO FOR A WALK! BEFORE taking your new dog into your home, take them for a good walk around the neighborhood. Dogs are pack oriented and going on a walk helps with bonding. This should be a LONG walk at least 45 minutes. Let them sniff their new neighborhood so they can familiarize themselves with the area. Treat them when they listen to their name(if you have given them a new name). Also treat them when they “go potty” outside and give them verbal and physical praise.

Then AFTER the walk let them sniff! Sniffing is the canine way of a proper greeting. Let them sniff each other and play if they are both willing to. Have treats handy to provide position reinforcements of proper social skills. If you start to see some aggression on either part, please contact me immediately to help with the situation.

Entering the home- BEFORE you allow them to enter your home, have them SIT (you can treat them when they sit on your command or show the treat to lure them to SIT) at the door next to you or behind you. Open the door to your home and have them FOLLOW you into the home. Keep the leash on and lead them around the house. Let them get a good sniff of rooms they are allowed to be in, and keep doors closed to rooms that are Off Limits to them. Lead them to their area where they will sleep and eat.

Backyard – Lead them to their new backyard. Then you can take off their lead and treat them with verbal and physical praise. Stay outside with them for 30 minutes and treat them when they “go potty”.

Sign them up for training classes group classes. They each have great programs and social exercises for your dog to meet other playmates. Have fun with your new addition!

What to do when adopting a rescue or shelter dog
Rules for adopting a dog


3 DAYS -

  • Feeling overwhelmed/ anxious and fearful

  • Scared and unsure of new surroundings

  • May not eat or drink

  • Shuts down & wants to curls up or hide

  • Testing boundaries

  • May growl or bark for space


  • Starting to settle in

  • Feeling more comfortable

  • Figured out environment

  • Getting into a routine

  • Starts to show some personality

  • Behavior issues may start to show up


  • Finally feels comfortable in new the new home

  • Building a bond

  • Gaining some sense of security with new family

  • Sets into routine

1 FULL YEAR – It takes a dog that long to understand they are HOME and NOT leaving or being taken away

Nightly Affirmation: “You are Loved, You are Safe, You are Home”

Say this every night for 1 week at bedtime when they are their calmest.

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