Tips for the First 30 Days After Adopting a Dog

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Adopting a new dog is so exciting! There’s nothing quite like bringing home a new family member.

However, the first several days are critical to your new dog. They are likely confused in a new environment, and unsure of what to expect.

While giving them plenty of love is crucial, so is establishing clear boundaries and maintaining structure.

Here are some important tips for the first 30 days after adoption, to ensure a smooth transition.

Be Patient

Every dog is different. Some need a couple of days to get comfortable in their new homes, while other dogs might need a couple of months. Be patient with your new furry family member as they adjust, get to know their new family, and start to feel at home.

Build a Relationship With a Veterinarian

If you don’t already have a preferred veterinarian, it’s time to find one ASAP! In fact, it’s a good idea to establish a relationship with a local vet before adoption, if possible.

Although shelter dogs are most likely current on vaccines, microchipped, and spayed or neutered, it’s still important to follow up with your veterinarian soon after adoption. They can give your new pup a thorough wellness exam, plus address diet, behavior concerns, and preventative medicine.

Be Prepared

The last thing your home needs is a bored dog. Be prepared ahead of time to provide enrichment — in other words, buy lots of dog toys! Toys can give dogs a positive outlet for energy, and help to redirect natural chewing behavior from furniture or other household objects.

Supervise your dog with any new toys to ensure that they don’t damage easily. Toys that break could get lodged in the intestines, and toys that are too hard might damage teeth. Also ensure that the toy isn’t too small. A dog’s toy should be large enough that they can’t swallow it.

Establish Routine and Structure

Having an established routine right when your dog comes home will help them feel safe and secure. Plan on feeding, walking, and playing with your dog at the same time each day.

If possible, sit down with your household members to establish a plan before bringing your new pooch home. This way, there will be no confusion over responsibilities when it comes to caring for your dog.

Crate Training is Recommended

Dog crates are incredibly useful tools for new dogs, and are highly recommended by the experts. A crate should be large enough for your dog to comfortably sit, stand up, and turn around.

Of course, it’s worth mentioning — especially if you’re a brand-new dog owner — crates are not used as punishment. Instead, it’s about creating a safe space for your dog, and having a place to keep them safely contained while you are away.

Introduce Dogs Slowly

If your family already has a dog, introduce your resident dog and newly-adopted dog slowly. It’s best to do first introductions outside the home (neutral territory), and have both dogs leashed to control the interactions.

After that, create separate eating spaces, and remove any potential items that could cause guarding or conflict. It will help minimize tension and negative interactions between the dogs. During the first few weeks, never leave the dogs together unsupervised, either.

Slowly Transition to New Dog Food

Feeding your dog a different food from what they were eating at the shelter is perfectly acceptable, but changing a dog’s diet abruptly can cause gastrointestinal upset or diarrhea.

Instead, transition your dog to a new diet gradually. For a few days, provide the same food the shelter was feeding. Then, gradually mix it with the new dog food and reduce the amount of the old dog food until you’ve fully switched to the new kind.