Bringing a shelter dog home for the first time can be a stressful transition for your new best friend, but there are some things that you can do to make it easier for them. Keep reading for seven tips that can help make your dog’s transition to their new home easy and stress-free as possible. 

Tip One: Patience is Pivotal

When it comes to anything with a dog, staying patient is key to successfully transitioning your dog into their new home. Shelter dogs typically have already undergone stress from ending up in the shelter in the first place, and now you are taking the dog out of somewhere they have become acclimated to again and bringing them home. Since this new lifestyle and environment change may be stressful at first, you have to remind yourself to allow your new dog time to adjust! It will take some time but luckily many shelters follow what is called the 3-3-3 rule (more details below) to help provide some understanding as to how the transition period will likely go. 

Tip Two: Remember the 3-3-3 Rule

Whether you rescue an older dog or a puppy, a lot of dogs tend to follow the 3-3-3 rule when getting acclimated to their new environment. 

The 3-3-3 rule states that when introducing a dog to your home you should expect:

  • 3 days of feeling overwhelmed and nervous
  • 3 weeks of settling in
  • 3 months of building trust and bonding with you

Keep this in mind as you set your expectations for your new rescue dog to feel fully at home and adjusted! 

Tip Three: Keep Things Calm 

As mentioned, the first three days will likely be an overwhelming time for your new best friend but there are some things you can do / provide to your dog that can help them manage some of their initial stress. 

  1. Try ThunderEase® for Dogs
    1. ThunderEase® for Dogs mimics the calming pheromone that a mother dog emits while nursing her puppies, which helps your dog to feel calmer and more comfortable in all situations! When bringing home a new furry family member, we recommend plugging in one of our diffusers prior to the dog coming home so that pheromones will be in the air when they arrive. 
    2. ThunderWunders® Calming Chews Before the Shelter
      1. If time permits during your adoption process, try to get there early so you can give your dog ThunderWunders® prior to leaving the shelter (45 minutes or so before, so they can kick in) so that they will be calmer for the car ride and arrival to their new home. ThunderWunders® Dog Calming Chews contain ingredients that help promote rest and relaxation for your dog, so you can spend less time struggling and more time snuggling.

Tip Four: Allow the Dog to Explore their New Environment Fully

dog exploring new home

Now that you’ve arrived home it is time to let your new dog explore your home fully.  You will want your dog to know their way around and will also want them to feel at home. Allow your dog time to explore and try not to crate the dog until they have had a chance to fully get the lay of the land. 

Tip Five: Establish a Routine / Begin Training

After they have had time to explore and understand the home, you can begin to set boundaries and begin training. The most important thing in this case is that you establish a routine early. Come up with a routine that works for you and also your dog and stick to it. As the sense of stability and normalcy kicks in, your dog will start to feel less anxious and more at ease. 

Tip Six: Provide Distractions and Plenty of Playtime

dog playing with toys newly adopted

Oftentimes a part of a routine that gets overlooked is playtime! Be sure to provide distractions, toys, and plenty of playtime so your dog can work off the anxious energy they have. This will also give you the opportunity to strengthen your bond with your dog over time as you have more collaborative play.   

Tip Seven: Never Punish Your Dog for Less than Ideal Behavior

Though progress may be slow sometimes, it’s important to never shout, yell or react negatively to your dog. Negative responses or punishment will damage your progress and trust with a pet. Instead, reward and reinforce the behaviors you want to see more of.

Let’s Clear the Shelters! 

tips for adopting a dog

Every dog deserves the chance to have a great life outside of the shelter and we encourage you to use these tips and find your new best friend! Remember that a dog is a big commitment but with our tips and a great community of other dog owners, together we can all provide our dogs with the best lives possible! 


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