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What to do when you first adopt a dog or puppy

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

By Brianna Dick

Congratulations on adopting or adding a new dog to your life. Adding a new dog or puppy is exciting but can quickly turn to frustrating or exhausting when we don't realize how to fulfill our new dog and welcome them into our home safely.

The first thing owners must understand is that dogs do not learn, think or perceive the same way humans do. This goes for "rescue" dogs as well.


It also can take up to 3 months for dogs to get used to their new environment, new patterns and for them to get comfortable, so please give your new dog the time and patience it needs to be successful.

Many rescues have to paint the narrative for the dogs up for adoption as very emotional, heartbreaking stories in order to entice potential adopters to adopt. I completely understand why rescues do this, because many times, when people adopt, it is based on emotion and not on logic. Unfortunately, this sets the tone for the relationship between adopter and dog moving forward based on emotion, feeling sad for the dog and therefore, not providing the proper guidance and boundaries.

Whether you got your dog from a friend, craigslist (please don't) or anywhere else, all of these rules apply.

What you SHOULD do when you get your new pup home

The less you talk AT your dog the more they can listen

1. Keep a leash on them in the house for the first few days

2. Make them wait calmly before exiting your car and any other threshold

2. Take them for a long long long walk when you first arrive anywhere new, especially your home

3. On leash, guide them through your home allowing them to smell and then put them in their crate or on their dog bed and allow them to relax

4. Create a routine based on invitation versus expectation where YOU are in control of all your dogs decisions, including where to go inside and outside, what state of mind they are in and how the greet people, objects and other animals

6. Allow them to smell new people, animals environments while not exciting them by saying things such as "Oh what is that buddy?!", "Do you want to go see that?", "What do you think boy??"

7. Walk them everyday for at least 1 hour

8. Crate train them! Giving them the freedom of a new environment is overwhelming and will cause more harm than good

What you should NOT do when you get your new pup home

1. Give it tons of physical touch, especially the first few weeks as they're getting more comfortable and learning who you are and what your relationship will be

2. Allow new people to come up and pet them inside or outside. Dogs do not understand why strange people are constantly trying to "say hi" to them. Dogs greet via scent and scent only. They do NOT need to "say hi' by being pet

3. Give the freedom to free roam the house, especially when you're not home

4. Taking them to off leash area's with unknown dogs or having them greet random dogs on leash aka PLEASE NO DOG PARKS see

5. Take them to a party or have a lot new people come up to pet/touch them

6. Use your backyard, a dog park, fetch or daycare to exercise your dog (this is play, not exercise)

7. Feel bad for creating a structured environment with clear rules

I recommend heading to my training tools page to find out how to use effective and safe leashes and leads. There are links to the item as well as video tutorials on how to use the tools.

I wish you the best with your new dog and if you have any questions on how to choose the right dog for you or how to help your new puppy or dog please don't hesitate to reach out!

Brianna Dick

Owner & Dog Behaviorist

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