How To Help An Adult Dog Adjust To A New Home

Last Updated on December 16, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

You chose to adopt an adult dog from a rescue or a shelter; well, good for you! 

Now the day has come to welcome your new furry friend into your family, but there are several essential things to consider if your new pet’s integration into your life will go smoothly. Your new dog will need a few months to settle into his new home, learn to trust you, feel secure, and understand his place within the family.

Read this guide for some practical top tips on how to make your new canine companion feel right at home!

First Things First

Before you rush out and fall in love with the first deserving dog you see at the rescue, ask yourself these crucial questions:

Size Matters

The size of the dog breed you choose is critical to how well he will adjust to his new home. For example, if you live in a small apartment with no outdoor space, you don’t want a huge Great Dane. 

Choose a pup that suits the amount of living space you have so that you’re both comfortable.


Not every dog gets along with cats and other pets. And some dogs suffer from separation anxiety, and they will constantly bark if left alone in a crate while you go out to work or to the store. If you have children, you want a calm dog that happily tolerates their attention.

What Time Do You Have For Your Dog?

All dogs demand quite a lot of your time and attention. However, some dogs need much more exercise than others, and long-haired breeds need more brushing time than shorter-haired pooches.

Do you have the time to train a stray that might not be potty trained?

All the above are questions you need to consider before you choose what’s best for the dog and you. 

Be Prepared

Before you collect your new furry friend you’ll need to pay a visit to the pet store so that you have everything you need on hand for your pet’s arrival.

The following items are all essentials that you should have:

  • Collar
  • ID tag
  • Harness
  • Leash
  • Crate
  • Bed and blanket
  • Bowls
  • Dog food (ideally, the same brand that he has been eating at the rescue)
  • Training treats
  • Exercise pen or gate

We recommend that you register your new pet with a good veterinarian before the dog’s arrival. That way, you won’t be left panicking in the event of an emergency.

If possible, it’s helpful for your new dog if you can obtain an item of bedding or a favorite toy that carries the scent of the dog and his previous home. That can provide the dog with a feeling of comfort and security in an unfamiliar place.

Decide On Some Rules

Dogs thrive on routine, and your new dog will need some structure in his life to help him settle into his new home.

So, before you collect Fido, decide on the house rules and routine that suits you and your pet best. Make sure that everyone in the household understands the regime and sticks to it. That’s crucial for your dog’s security. If your dog isn’t sure what he’s permitted to do or when he can expect to be fed, he will quickly become anxious and confused.

It’s a good idea to find out what feeding times the dog is used to and what brand of food he is eating. That way, you can keep your dog’s new meal routine fairly close to his old one.


You don’t know whether your dog is a seasoned traveler or whether his journey home with you is a whole new experience for him.

We recommend that you take someone with you so that you can ride close to the dog. You should also confine your new pet to a crate for everyone’s safety during the journey.

The first thing to do when you arrive home is to put the dog on his new harness and leash and show him where you want him to relieve himself. If the dog does go, immediately reward him with praise and treats.

Put your dog’s water and food bowls somewhere easily accessible, and show your pet where to find them.

Crate Training

dog crate training

Hopefully, an adult dog will have some crate training experience. If so, you can introduce your new pet to his crate, confine him to one room, and allow him some quiet time to chill out and relax.

If the dog isn’t crate trained, don’t shut him in the crate. You’ll need to take the time to crate train your canine companion properly so that he doesn’t become worried or stressed.

Meeting The Family

Take time to introduce your family to the dog one at a time. If you have children in your household, always supervise the dog closely when he meets them.

A new dog can easily be overwhelmed by unfamiliar dogs and even cats. So, keep your new dog separate from your other four-legged friends. Choose neutral ground outside the house for introductions, and keep all dogs leashed at first. 

If you have other dogs, it’s a good idea to walk the newbie with his new housemates. Keep the dogs leashed at first so that they can get to know each other in a controlled manner. Before you allow the dogs to mingle off-leash, ensure that your new dog is microchipped and registered with your details.

To avoid confrontations, keep your new dog’s food and water bowls separate and supervise the dogs closely at mealtimes. 

Settling In

Over the first few weeks, establish your dog’s routine to help him settle in and relax. 

Keep the dog on the same diet to avoid tummy upsets, and if you want to change his food, do so gradually by mixing the new brand with the old one.

Be quick to praise your dog and reward him with treats when he behaves as you want him to. If things go awry, don’t punish or shout at your new dog. 

For example, potty training can often be a problem with dogs from shelters, so you might need to start the process from scratch. Be patient and quiet around your new friend, calmly correcting him when he gets it wrong and lavishing him with praise when he remembers what to do and where he should do it!

Out And About

Don’t be tempted to take your new dog to too many strange places until he’s had a chance to orient himself with his new home. The last thing you want is for your dog to feel insecure and worried that he’s about to be relocated again!

If you need to go out, don’t make too much of a fuss when you leave and return. Keep everything calm, and behave as if coming and going are the norm.


Most adult dogs are pretty stoical creatures that settle in quickly with their new family, provided that you’re patient, calm, and you don’t rush things.

However, if your new dog exhibits behavioral problems that you don’t know how to deal with, seek the advice of an expert animal behaviorist or consult your vet.

Final Thoughts

Welcoming a new adult dog into your family is an exciting thing!

Before you bring your dog home, make sure you have everything he needs on hand. Be patient and calm, and understand that your new canine companion needs time to settle in and learn his new routine.

Good luck!

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Jason is a respected home and garden expert and a well-established figure in the digital media industry. He is the founder of, a leading online platform providing high-quality content on home improvement, DIY projects, gardening, and more. His passion for creating engaging, value-driven content has made a go-to resource for home and garden enthusiasts. In addition to his work with KKMediaGroup, Jason co-founded, a website dedicated to offering practical advice and innovative ideas on farming, food, and family. His entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to sharing knowledge and expertise have played a significant role in the success of both platforms.