Congratulations—you adopted a dog! You have dreamed of this fur ball running through your home for so long…but now what? The next step is building the bond between you and your new pal.Whether you rescued a puppy, adult, or senior dog, each fur friend has a unique personality and has encountered different types of people and places in their lifetime. Some dogs will instantly love hanging by your side, while others may be more independent or need time to adjust their new home. Regardless, you will want to develop trust, set boundaries, and communicate effectively to strengthen the relationship between you and your newly adopted dog.
For the first few weeks, limit the number of people and activities your dog encounters. This will give them time to get used to their new lifestyle and the chance to learn about you at their own pace.
Follow your dog’s lead. If your fur friend shows signs of shyness such as whining, tucking their tail behind their legs, or hiding, they may not be ready to meet new people or go on adventures yet. Plus, they may want to take it slow and rest up at first—moving to a new home takes energy! When your dog is prepared to meet others, slowly introduce your new dog to children, family, and friends one at a time so that your fur pal does not get overwhelmed.
Also take note of what your dog enjoys. For example, if they like one-on-one petting, continue to engage with them in that way. Making your new friend feel comfortable will help them trust and enjoy you.
When you bring home your rescue dog, it’s a good idea to keep them near you while you are working on daily tasks. This allows them to observe your movements and gestures so they can better understand how you communicate. For instance, if you are doing yardwork, maybe have your dog hang outside with you rather than leaving them inside or in their crate.
Another way to keep your dog close is to have them sleep in their bed or crate in your room for the first few nights. This will help them adapt to a brand-new house that may initially feel intimidating. Sleeping near you will also accustom your dog to your scent and associate it with safety and security.
Take your fur friend for a tour around the house and let them sniff and explore their surroundings. Show them their belongings such as their food, bed, and chew toys. Also show them what is off limits by pointing out forbidden objects and saying “no” to communicate and help set boundaries.
Once your dog gets comfortable with the indoor living space, take your dog into the yard or around local neighborhood. Familiarizing your fur friend with their new stomping grounds will make them feel as though your house is now their house (after all, it is!)
It is important to begin training your newly adopted dog right away. This will make it easier for them to establish good habits and understand what is expected of them.
House training is a top priority. Even adult dogs who are housebroken may require some training because they are transitioning to a new environment. Therefore, you may want to have Wee-Wee® Pads handy. If you want to crate train your fur pal, introduce them to their crate immediately and start practicing.
Ensure you always reward your dog’s good behavior with a chew treat for positive reinforcement. Hand-feeding a treat is a great way to bond because it involves personal touch—plus, you are giving your dog a treat, so it is sure to win them over!
On walks, your dog can enjoy venturing to new areas and exploring different scents. Walks also build your relationship with your fur friend because they provide one-on-one time and teach them how to engage with the world.
Your dog will look to you for signals on how to behave when walking, so guide them and be understanding. Simply change the direction without pulling to communicate if they do something you do not approve—remember, your dog is still learning what you expect of them.
In addition to walks, playtime helps strengthen the bond with your dog. Whether it’s tossing them a toy or starting a game of hide-and-seek, playing with your dog will show them that you’re their go-to pal when they want to have fun!
Grooming is another way to bond with your dog because it involves close contact and physical touch. A gentle grooming tool, such as the Magic Coat® Love Glove, massages and relaxes your dog while building your relationship.
In addition, bath time develops your dog’s trust in you to ease them through a stressful situation. It also accustoms them to you touching areas such as their mouth, tail, and feet.
Bringing home a shelter dog is a huge transition for both you and your fur friend. There are bound to be some potty accidents, chewed items, and other surprises as your dog adjusts—but you two are in this to learn together! Instead of punishing or yelling at your dog, stay calm and show them positive reinforcement when deserved. This will help your dog trust you while discovering what is expected of them.
As you and your dog get used to one another and spend time together, they will realize that they have found their fur-ever home. Before long, you will form a long-lasting friendship like no other!
Four Paws®, Magic Coat®, and Wee-Wee® products are available at major pet stores everywhere in the U.S. Please check with your local retailer or our Where to Buy page for product availability near you.