Bringing your new dog home

Congratulations and thank you for saving a life! You finally found the perfect pup and you’re excited to bring them home! Before you do, get a few essentials and be prepared for creating a good home for the dog.

The basics that your dog needs are:

  • Good nutrition – dogs need protein, more than just rice. You can buy dry or wet dog food, which will have the vitamins your dog needs, or meat like chicken or beef
  • Daily clean water
  • Daily exercise
  • A frequently-cleaned toilet area
  • Time spent with their humans

Some items you’ll need are:

  • Food and water bowls
  • Dog food and maybe some treats for training. Sometimes we can’t help it, but try to get the same food your dog has been eating. A sudden switch in diet can cause an upset stomach.
  • A collar and a leash
  • Toys, especially chew toys
  • Stain- and odor-removing cleaners if you allow your dog inside

Bringing your dog home

When your dog first arrives to your house, take them immediately to their toilet area and spend some time with them until they pees. Praise them when they do. If they seem nervous or if they have a lot of energy, taking a walk will help release the anxiety. It also introduces your dog to the neighborhood smells.

Keep the first few days low key and uneventful. Don’t invite all your friends over. Establish a routine. Dogs feel secure when they know what to expect and when rules are in place. Create a daily schedule of taking walks, feeding, sleeping.

Regardless of age, dogs like to chew. Protect your furniture, keep your shoes up until you trust your dog, and keep an eye on them while they get settled. Be sure to puppy-proof your home by making sure anything that could hurt your dog– like medicines, chemicals, or toxic plants– are out of your dog’s reach.

If you already have another dog, make sure to give both dogs space and time to get used to each other. Dogs are pack animals. One of the best was to introduce them to each other on neutral territory is to take them on a pack walk before bringing the new dog into your home. It releases anxiety from the new situation and allows the dogs to form a bond while walking. Keep the dogs separated when you are not home until you are certain they are safe around each other unsupervised. Be sure to always reward good behavior to encourage your dogs to play nicely together. 

If you already have a cat, keep them separated for a week or so and introduce them to each other through smell first. After that, if you can, let the two animals observe each other without being able to get to each other. For example, have your dog in a crate and let the cat roam around safely. When you want to introduce them, keep your dog on a leash and have another family member sit down with the cat at the opposite end of the room. Be aware of their body language and be patient with them. And always reward your dog’s good behavior and obedience with a treat. Keep the animals separated when you are not home until you are certain they are safe around each other unsupervised.

Over the next week and month, you’ll establish your routine and your dog will begin to relax into their new everyday life. Be patient and calm, knowing this is a big transition for you and the dog. Good luck!


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