Adopting a dog can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin, but bringing home a pup is also fun and exciting! This milestone is the first bonding moment of many between you and your new furry friend. To help ease that stress, here are ten things you can do to ensure a smooth transition for everyone.

  1. Gather Your Dog’s Supplies

Get everything you’ll need to make your new dog feel safe and comfortable before bringing them home. In addition to the basics—a collar and leash, as well as food and water bowls—you’ll also need a dog bed, pet gate, toys, treats, and grooming supplies. It’s also a good idea to have training pads and enzymatic cleaners on hand for accidents in the early stages of house-training.

  • Dog Collar
  • Dog Leash
  • Personalized Dog Tag
  • Dog Food & Water
  • Dog Bowls
  • Dog Bed
  • Pet Gate (or Crate)
  • Dog Toys
  • Dog Training Treats
  • Grooming Supplies
  • Potty Training Pads
  • Bissell Spot Cleaner Vacuum for Pets

  1. Prepare Your Home for Fido

Similar to babyproofing, it’s always a smart and safe idea to ready your space before your dog comes home. Walk through your home and stow away items that might be harmful to small or overly curious pups, and pick up those items you don’t want to get chewed.

You should prepare everyone else in the household too, especially if you have children in your home. Discuss which members will take up feeding, walking, and training.

If other animals already live in your home, be sure their shots are up-to-date for everyone’s safety. And you should have a designated area where they can retreat, giving them a way to acclimate to the new dog’s arrival on their own time. This may seem like overkill to some, but this preparation helps keep your pooch safe and eases everyone in the transition process.

  1. Assign a Safe Space for Your Dog

Just as you would for existing pets, make the same private space for your new one. Some pet parents have an aversion to dog crates, so try a comfy dog house or dog bed (covered) instead. They also serve as a place to feel safe while they adjust because most dogs prefer to have their own space, much like a child does in their own room.

You might also try using a pet gate to block off a room just for them. You can visit your new dog there to help the bonding process, but keep kids and other pets out for the time being.

  1. Plan How (and When) to Bring Him Home

If possible, take a few days off work or plan to pick your dog up on a weekend when you have free time to help them adjust. But don’t pick him up at the beginning of a long vacation; if he gets used to you constantly being home, he can develop separation anxiety when you go back to work. Have someone else drive you to pick him up, or ride along to help comfort him while you drive. Don’t forget to take his collar and leash, and bring him straight home without making any distracting stops.

  1. Show Your Dog around Inside House

Keep your dog on leash as you let them explore and sniff inside. Show them around to their food, water, bed, and toys. Let him know what’s off limits with short but firm commands such as “no” or “stop.” Don’t immediately start reprimanding your new fido friend or they may become fearful. Be gentle but firm in your training.

  1. Explore the Yard Outside on a Leash

Adopted dogs should have plenty of time and space to sniff out their new surroundings. If you’ve designated a potty space in your yard, lead him to it and reward him with a treat when he uses it successfully. Also, consider placing potty training pads next to exit doors you want your dog to learn to go out through.

  1. Introduce Fido to the Family

It’s recommended to introduce new household members and other dogs outside one at a time to meet the new canine. Keep other dogs on their leashes and supervise their interactions, keeping in mind that too heavy an introduction can cause them to become territorial with the new arrival. Restrain kids (and other parents) from kissing or hugging the dog (however adorable they may be). Give the new dog time to adjust and let them be the first to approach!

  1. Switch Your Dog’s Food Slowly

If you can, incorporate some of the food the shelter or breeder was feeding fido, and gradually switch your dog’s food to the brand you intend to serve him regularly in order to avoid digestion issues due to too quick a change. Don’t be surprised by an upset stomach due to diet or the new living situation. Sometimes it takes dogs time to adjust to their new surroundings, imagine how you might feel in a new strange home with new pup parents?

  1. Begin Training Your Dog Right Away

Even adult dogs who were previously housebroken will require a little house training. If you plan to crate train your dog, introduce him to his crate right away, and practice leaving them in it—with a toy—for short periods while you step out of the house to let them acclimate. You might even want to consider taking a formal obedience training course with your dog. Although, You’ll still want to start working with him to establish the rules from day one. Again, don’t immediately reprimand your dog to make them fearful especially since you don’t know their prior environment. Be firm but gentle in your corrections.

  1. Get Your Dog Checked by a Vet

Within a week of bringing Fido home, you should visit a veterinarian for a health check and to make sure he has all his vaccinations if this wasn’t already performed at the shelter, breeder, or rescue etc…

Adopting a dog is a big transition for both the dog and your family. Covering these basics will help your new dog feel secure in his new surroundings and make it easier to bond with your new wet-nosed furry friend.