First Weeks with your New Pet

Before Arrival

Gather supplies

Prepare the things your dog will need in advance. You will need a collar and leash, food and water bowls, food, and, of course, some toys. In addition, do not forget to purchase an identification tag right away.

Establish house rules

Work out your dog-care regimen in advance among the human members of your household. Who will walk the dog first thing in the morning? Who will feed him at night? Will he be allowed on the couch? Where will he sleep at night? Are there any rooms in the house that are off-limits? Remember to NEVER strike, hit, or kick your new pet. Your new dog may have never been taught manners, and he needs your guidance and patience.

Plan the arrival

Try to arrange the arrival of your new dog for a weekend or when you can be home for a few days. Get to know each other and spend some quality time together. Do not forget the jealousy factor - make sure you do not neglect other pets and people in your household!

Prepare for house-training

Assume your new dog is not house-trained and work from there. Read over the house-training information given to you at the time of adoption and check out house training tips for adult dogs. Be consistent, and maintain a routine. A little extra effort on your part to come home straight from work each day will pay off in easier, faster house-training.

Ensure all pets are healthy

Animal shelters take in animals with widely varying backgrounds, some of whom have not been previously vaccinated. Inevitably, despite the best efforts of shelter workers, viruses can be spread and may occasionally go home with adopted animals. If you already have dogs or cats at home, make sure they are up-to-date on their shots and in good general health before introducing your new dog to other pets. If possible, keep your pets separate for 7-10 days before allowing slow and controlled introductions.

The First Days

Take your new dog to the veterinarian within a week after adoption. Your new dog may need flea and heartworm prevention as well as additional vaccines or de-worming.

Use caution during introductions

  • Allow your new pet to familiarize itself with its new home.
  • Introduce your pets in controlled situations.
  • Give them time- do not force them together or leave them unattended.
  • Praise, praise, praise- and give lots of rewards for good behavior.
  • When introducing a cat to a dog, do NOT hold the cat in your arms.
  • Give your pets separate food and water bowls, and feed in separate spaces.
  • Be mindful that conflicts may arise when toys, food or other high-value items are present.
  • Be especially careful when introducing dogs or cats to caged animals.
  • Always supervise your pets until you are sure they get along. Until then, separate your pets by confining at least one of them to its own room. Only allow them to interact with each other with your supervision.

The First Weeks

Provide a crate

A crate may look to you like the canine equivalent of a jail cell, but to your dog who instinctively likes to den, it is a safe space of their own. It makes house-training and obedience training easier and saves your dog from the headache of being yelled at unnecessarily for problem behavior.

If a crate is not an option, consider some sort of confinement to a dog-proofed part of your home. A portion of the kitchen or family room can serve the purpose very well when sectioned off with a dog or baby gate.

Use training and consistency to create a happy home

Dogs need order. Let your pet know from the start what you expect. When you catch him doing something he should not, do not lose your cool. Stay calm, and remember that he is learning. Reward him with praise when he does well, too! Sign up for a local dog obedience class, and you will learn what a joy it is to have a well-trained dog.


Let the games begin

Dogs need an active life. That means you should plan plenty of exercise and game time for your pet. Enjoy jogging or Frisbee? You can bet your dog will, too. If running around the park is too energetic for your taste, try throwing a ball or a stick, or just going for a long walk together. When you take a drive in the country or visit family and friends, bring your dog and a leash along.

Patience is key

Finally, remember to temper your expectations. Life with you is a different experience for your new companion, so give them time to adjust. You will soon find out that you have made a friend for life. No one will ever greet you with as much enthusiasm or provide you with as much unqualified love and loyalty as your dog will. Be patient, and you will be amply rewarded.