When you adopt you are giving a dog a second chance at a permanent home. This is an amazing gift to the dog and you want to ensure the adoption is successful. It may take a few weeks or months for you both to settle into this new life together. 

Understand The 3-3-3 Rule

While it will vary for each individual dog, this rule gives an idea of what to expect for most pets in the early stages of adoption. It breaks down the first 3 days, 3 weeks and 3 months. 

In the first 3 days of the adoption, the change may be overwhelming for your new dog and these days can be the hardest. This is especially true if they have spent some time at the rescue centre and are not used to a home environment. Everything is new and anxiety can be high for both of you. You can never be sure how they will react to all the new sights and sounds. During this stage give the dog time to settle. Do not bring others over to meet the dog. Keep the house calm and set up a crate area where the dog can retreat if it feels uncertain. You will want to start your routines right away and while you want to make the dog feel comfortable in the home do not allow them to get away with bad behaviour. Some pets may test boundaries to see what they can get away with in the new environment. 

After 3 weeks your pet should be starting to settle and be used to the new routine and you should both start to become more comfortable. Behaviour issues can start to show. Consistent training is advised at this time. If you are unsure of what training to implement get the advice of a dog trainer. Now that your dog is getting used to their environment they will also start to find their favourite spots in the house and let you know when they like affection.

After around 3 months, your dog should now be comfortable in its environment and it might be hard to remember what life was like without your dog. They will know their daily routine and have established trust with you. Some dogs may take longer than others but be patient and keep up the training. If changes to the routine are required try and ease them in. If you are having big issues at this point it is best to speak to the rescue centre or your vet. 

While no two situations are the same, we have compiled some of the top tips every new dog owner can follow to help their new dog settle in.  

7 Tips For A Successful Adoption

1. Prepare for bringing them home

Ensure you have the basics such as a leash, collar, water and food. In addition to this, you will want an ID tag with your phone number on it, a crate, toys and a brush. You will want to make your house safe for them. Remove any breakables or any items that might get damaged. Put away any clutter or anything they will be able to reach. If you have a garden, ensure the dog can not escape through any gaps in the fence. If you do not have a fence, keep the dog on a lead outside until you are used to its behaviour and know if there is a risk of it running off. A fence may need to be installed later if this is the case.

2. Ensure everyone in your household is on the same page and stays calm

It is important to give a new dog space and to allow them to settle in in their own time. Children and even adults will be excited and will want to play and interact with the dog as soon as it arrives. Set a limit on play time and aim to reduce noise in the home in the first few days. Create an atmosphere of calm and quiet in your home. Now is not the time for the dog to meet your friends and family. Allow it a few days to get used to you first. 

3. Give the dog a tour of its new home

When you get home keep the dog on the leash and guide him from room to room. Show it where its crate is, where its food and water are and take it out to its toilet area. Spend some time in the toilet area until they relieve themselves. Allow them off leash in their area of the house. Give them time to settle in here.

4. Set Up A Crate

A crate is highly recommended for your dog. Treating it as their safe space during the day will help them to sleep comfortably in it through the night. The crate should be large enough for them to stand up and turn around. Work on time alone for the dog during the day. Put them into the crate while you are at home and allow them to settle before returning to them. Keep the times short in the beginning. 

5. Be Prepared For Sleepless Nights

It is normal for a dog to be unsettled for the first few nights after you bring it home and they may whine or bark. If possible take a few days off to allow for this interruption in sleep. Do not adopt a dog the day or week before a very busy time. They are away from what they are used to and might be frightened and lonely. If it is a pup it may need to be brought out for bathroom breaks during the night also. Try to not interact with the dog while it is whining as it will learn to use it to get your attention. Addressing the behaviour from the beginning is best to ensure a comfortable sleep for both you and your dog.

6. Build trust

Your rescue dog does not know yet that this is its forever home. Spend time in the first few days and weeks building their trust in you. Allow the dog time to feel comfortable and get settled while they begin to understand they won’t be moved again. Use positive reinforcement during training and do not get angry or use force with the dog. This will teach them to trust you. 

7. Prepare Yourself

This is a big change in your life. Even if you have had dogs before you have never had this dog so the changes to your life might be different and hard to get used to. Often new dog owners can feel stress, overwhelm and even depression and they will regret their decision to adopt a dog. For more information and for tips on how to cope see our article here.