Settling in Your New Dog

You are no doubt excited to start your life with a new family member, but you must remember that your dog needs time to adjust to the changes in its life.

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Dogs require time to adjust to new smells, new people, new routines, and new surroundings. This adjustment period is referred to as the dog’s decompression stage, and there are things that you can do to ensure that this is a positive experience for you and your new beloved pooch.

Here are a few tips to help your newly adopted rescue dog settle in.

Make sure someone is home consistently for at least the first week

This initial time together will be invaluable in the development of your relationship. Spend quality time getting to know your dog, what they like, what they do not like, and what training they may or may not need. It is important not to expect too much from them in the early stages. They are still getting to know you and the rules of the house. You can help them by establishing clear boundaries from the start, whether that be areas that they do or do not have access to, what behaviours are or are not acceptable, or where or where they cannot go to the bathroom.  Remember to be patient and forgive them when mistakes occur to ensure a smooth transition into your home. If you find yourself in a position where you cannot supervise your new dog, limiting their access to one room or an area can help.

Do not rush into taking your new dog out of the house

In your dog’s first few days at home, their mind will be working overtime. Introducing them to additional new things may send their system into overload. Make sure you give them at least a week before starting with socialization. When you do start introducing them to new people and experiences, do it one step at a time. Do not throw them a welcome home party with all your family and friends. Ensure you invite individual people over after the dog has gotten used to you and the other people in your house. Do not try to do it all at once.

DRH does not recommend walking your dog outside of your home until at least 1 week post-adoption (potentially longer for fearful/timid dogs).

Be predictable

One of the first things you will need to do when welcoming your dog home is to earn their trust. When their life so far has been a confusing fluster of unreliability, establishing a routine is a fantastic way to set them safely on their feet. They will feel more confident and safer in their surroundings when they are not guessing what new surprise they will be faced with next. They will learn to rely on your predictability and trust you to keep up their routine.

Dog-proof your home


Managing your surroundings will be instrumental in helping set up your new dog for success within your home. Do not leave personal belongings or breakables lying around as it may be attractive to your new dog and at risk of being destroyed. Ensure all dangerous and toxic goods (plants, medications, chemicals have been safely stored out of their reach.

Establishing a safe space for your dog is highly recommended. This is an area such as a crate, bed, a room, or any area where your dog can retreat to if they are feeling too overwhelmed.

Systematic departures

After a few days of settling in, leaving your dog by itself for short periods of time will help to avoid the development of separation anxiety down the track. Leave your dog alone when you go to get the mail or take the bins outside, then increase it to leaving him alone when you have to go out for a short interval. Gradually increase the alone time. If your dog whines or barks, wait for him to be quiet before you return inside.


If you need any guidance or assistance settling in your new DRH doggie family member- we are just a phone call away!

Check out this fab graphic by Rescue Dogs 101