Helping Your Dog Adjust to a New Home After Adoption

By Jackie Shelton, Writer for Two Rabbits Media

Pet adoption is a rewarding experience, but it’s important to be prepared. Once a new pet owner has taken their pet home, they should account for an in-depth adjustment period which is important for a completely successful adoption process. These tips will help new pet owners prepare for and adjust to life with an adopted dog.

In the weeks before adopting their dog, pet adopters must prepare their living space and make plans for a new pet. Doing this helps prevent problems when the new pet arrives.

Create a Safe Environment

There are many ways pet owners can pet-proof a home. Some of the quickest changes to make include the following:

  • Install child safety locks on lower cabinets where cleaning chemicals are kept, or move the chemicals to higher cabinets.
  • Tuck away stray cords to prevent them from becoming a play-thing.
  • Lock up garbage cans or use garbage cans with lids.
  • Put away medications to ensure they’re not accessible.

Pet owners who have questions about other ways they can pet proof their house can speak to an experienced vet for more ideas.

Buy Supplies

Dogs have a lot of needs, including food, bedding, toys, a collar and leash. Buying supplies for a pet’s arrival can ensure that the pet will have what he or she needs to be comfortable in a home. Some pet owners will wait until they have a specific pet to adopt before buying food, so they can buy the type of food the pet eats at the shelter. This makes the transition just a little bit easier for the dog.

Prepare Children in the House

Children who have never lived with a dog before may not know the best ways to behave around a new dog. Children can practice gentle petting and using soft voices with stuffed animals in anticipation of the dog’s arrival. Children who like to rough house must be given clear instructions on how to remain calm around the new dog.

Have a Care Plan

Everyone in the house must be ready to take care of the new dog. To ensure that everyone knows their role with the new dog, pet adopters can make a care schedule that includes everyone in the household. If everyone knows when they’ll be expected to feed, play with or walk the new dog, this prevents arguments around dog care when the new dog arrives. It’s also important to set up the proper grooming routine for the new dog’s breed, this should be on a consistent schedule.

Know Where the Dog Will Spend Time

Many pet owners make rules about where their dog will spend time. This needs to be worked out in advance. Pet adopters who want their dog to spend time outside need to prepare an outdoor shelter where the dog can be warm and safe. Pet adopters who want their pet to avoid certain rooms of the house should buy baby gates to keep the dog out of that area.

Spend Time Bonding

Once the dog arrives, it’s important for the new pet owner and the dog to spend time bonding with one another. Adoption is best done over a weekend or holiday when the pet owner will be at home for the dog. It’s important to avoid visitors at this time. Once the dog has been in the house for a while, then the pet owner can introduce visitors one at a time.

Establish Routines

Pet owners with a newly adopted dog can help their pet feel comfortable at home by establishing predictable routines. It’s helpful to feed the dog at the same time every day, take the dog outside at the same time every day and to take the dog for walks on a daily basis. Once the dog knows what to expect, he or she can feel more relaxed at home.

Go to the Vet

Although the shelter should have provided the dog with proper healthcare, new pet owners should still bring their dog to the vet within a few weeks of finalizing the adoption. This gives the dog an opportunity to meet his or her new healthcare provider, and also gives the pet owner a chance to ask questions of a professional.

Pet adopters who have more questions about how to adjust to life with a new dog can talk to the shelter before the pet adoption goes through. This can help ensure the transition period will go well for pet and owner.