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 Adopting a rescue dog: the first seven days 

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 Adopting a rescue dog: what to expect the first seven days 

It’s finally happened! You’re a proud, new pet owner. 

You’ve taken the time to research what type of dog would be best for your lifestyle and reading about how to go about adopting one from a shelter. Finally, you found the perfect match; Your life is suddenly complete. 

rescue dog Grace
Grace – Want to adopt Grace? Click on her photo to find out more about her – https://bit.ly/2WA5ybE

But what happens next? How do you know if this is going to work out? What are some things that you can expect in those first seven days as your new rescue pup adjusts to his new home? In this blog post, we will discuss topics on how to let your new dog adjust, getting to know your new pup, and establishing a routine all within that first week. 

Make sure to check out our other helpful tips for cats and dogs in our Pets section including article like How To Help Your Local Pet Rescue.

We also want to mention that while we’re saying “rescue dog” in this article this applies to all dogs whether from a shelter/rescue or a reputable breeder. All dogs need time to decompress and together you need to learn about each other and establish a routine and more.

To find out more about this sweet girl named “Reason” please click on her photo to go to her adoption page. She tends to be some what of a velcro dog, so she would love someone who has availability for her. She would love to snuggle if you will let her. https://bit.ly/3zux0Gf

We are also sharing photos and links to dogs currently waiting for the furever homes from one of my favorite rescues and the one that I work with (on the cat team) and where we adopted our girl Nyx from in December 2019 – Three Little Pitties (also Saving Kitties) Rescue. Just click on the photo of the dog to go to their adoption profile. 

How to settle a rescue dog (or any dog) into a new home 

Sophie Blue Eyes
Sophie Blue Eyes is the most beautiful, playful, cuddly girl! To find out more about her click on her photo https://bit.ly/3BqRD6J

Settling into a new environment can be overwhelming for everyone, your rescue dog is no different. You must start slowly with them, while still trying to get them accustomed to things like their new space, toy, bed, food bowl, etc. It is crucial to prepare the house for your rescue dog before bringing them home, as bringing in a bunch of new things for them during their adjustment period can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for them.  

       How long does it take for a dog to adjust?

Every dog is different and may have been through different things in their life before you adopted them. Even if you’re adopting a puppy it doesn’t mean it’s any easier, in fact, puppies are a lot of work, usually more so than adult dogs.

Mini Meredith
Meredith was an OWNED dog in Houston. Used for years for breeding and only seen at the vet for insemination and c-sections; she was posted for Free on Facebook after the “owners” stated they could not manage her skin issues. Her friendly and happy disposition make this girl a pleasure to care for. She loves snuggling and will whine for petting. To find out more about Mini Meredith click on her photo to her adoption page: https://bit.ly/3gK1ixg

There are things that can sometimes affect their trust and ability to bond quickly. The usual expectation follows the 3-3-3 rule, which is 3 days to get accustomed to surroundings, 3 weeks to become used to house rules and begin bonding, and 3 months to feel truly at home. But while this is a common rule, many dogs can take anywhere from 3 months to a year before they are fully adjusted and can feel at home. 

Meet 2 year old Chula! Are you ready for an adventure buddy who enjoys relaxing in the yard before a sunset stroll? Chula is ready to give that to you! Click on her photo to find out more about her https://bit.ly/3zwWGlF

Adopting a Rescue Dog: What To Expect For The First Seven Days 

If you are adopting a rescue dog, the first 7 days are a crucial time for both you and your new furry friend. This will be a period of adjustment for you both, so it is normal to expect tension, anxiety, and curiosity.

Your dog will be in a brand-new environment with someone who is a stranger to them. You must be patient, understanding, and respectful of their boundaries during this time. Even still, you want to introduce them to things slowly and make them feel welcome with you in your new home together. 

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If you are adopting a rescue dog, the first seven days are a crucial time for both you and your dog. It will be a period of adjustment.

Day 1: Bringing Your Dog Home 

Day 1 is all about minimizing stress, trying to keep your new dog from getting overwhelmed, and introducing them to necessities only. You can give them a toy or a treat but do not try to train them immediately or give them free rein of the house. This will surely overwhelm them and increase their stress, making it harder for them to adjust. Keep it simple by introducing them only to the members who will be consistently living in the house, their bed, and the room in which they will spend most of their time in. 

Eugene has had a rough life and is now ready for the good life! This lovable senior is good with other dogs and all people, and just wants a comfy couch to lounge around on. He is almost perfect in every way and loves to cuddle and kiss you. Click on his photo to find out more about him. https://bit.ly/3t79i0j

Day 2: Getting to Know Each Other 

Day 2 is an exciting day because you can start trying to form a bond with your new dog. Don’t be overly aggressive with your affections or allow any small children to infiltrate their space just yet, but you can all sit quietly in a room with the dog and allow them to explore you.

You can play and interact with the dog of course, but do not force any activities on them unless they have shown they are ready. You also want to slowly introduce them to other things in the house, perhaps only showing them a new section every day, this way they can slowly explore without the stress. 

adopting a rescue dog the first seven days
Coco is amazing at agility and would love a home with an active person. She won’t need to run 5 miles a day but would love to learn agility based enrichment activities. She can play hard but she can also nap harder! Click on her photo to find out how to adopt her! https://bit.ly/3mMxXGs

Days 3-7: Creating & Establishing A Solid Routine for Your New Rescue Dog 

The rest of the week should be dedicated to continuing to let them explore and become comfortable with the home and your family, while also introducing a routine to their life. A routine established early, will give the dog a sense of security and control. They know what will happen when and where things are, so it relieves them of a lot of unknowns. 

       Meal Time

You will want to establish designated meal times so that your dog will know when to expect food, and is less likely to beg throughout the day. Designated meal times keep you and your dog on a schedule so that you do not overfeed them.


Your new dog, regardless if they are old or young, will need exercise. It is a good idea to have designated exercise times so that your dog knows when it is appropriate to let loose all that energy, they may be holding in. Even older dogs will need daily walks to keep healthy and in shape, and it is a good way for you to spend time alone together to bond. 

adopting a rescue dog the first seven days
Elly would love a relaxed place to hang out with her people. She is house and crate trained, walks well on a leash and gets along with dogs, cats, kids and everybody she meets. Click on her photo to find out more about her https://bit.ly/38nMP5C


Similar to exercise, you want to give your new dog designated playtimes, or at least attempt to. Your dog may want to play a lot, which is great, but you want to make sure they understand when and where to play, so they do not end up destroying furniture or running wild around smaller children or pets.

adopting a rescue dog the first seven days
Not available for adoption – Our dog Nyx whom we adopted from Three LIttle Pitties Rescue

       Potty Areas

Potty areas are essential to be introduced early. If you plan to let them outside and there is a specific section of the yard for doing their business then be sure to direct them there every time you take them out. You also want to pay attention to when your dog needs to go out and try to find consistent times to take them so that they will begin to understand the potty routine.


adopting a rescue dog the first seven days
Empress is an older well behaved lady. Empress loves to spend time outside feeling the sun on her back. She loves to go on laid back walks and take breaks often to roll around in the cool grass in the shade. Click on her photo to find out more about her. https://bit.ly/2WHBaw9

It is very helpful for a dog to have a place for bedtime that they consider their own. While you may be tempted to let them sleep with you in your bed, letting them have their own space allows them a sense of security in their new environment. Be sure to direct them to their space and bed, you can introduce this to them before bedtime so they understand it is theirs. Then follow up before bedtime to let them know this is when we sleep, and that is where you sleep. This will help solidify a sleeping schedule for them. 

The first seven days+ at home with your dog is an adjustment period for you both

A rescue dog is a lovable companion, they may just need some extra patience and love once they are brought to a new home. If you follow these tips, you are sure to have a happy and well-adjusted furry companion for life. 


By on August 30th, 2021

About Powered by Mom

I’m Michelle aka Powered by Mom. I’m married with one daughter, my hubby was my high school sweetheart, our two dogs Nyx and Cleo and our cat Oliver. As you can see we’re a family of animal lovers. We love to travel when we can, try different food and activities all over the world and enjoy being together. My passions are writing, travelling, creating new recipes, encouraging people to adopt not shop and just to enjoy life while we can.

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7 thoughts on “ Adopting a rescue dog: the first seven days ”

  1. VERY good suggestions! Between 2005 – 2007, my roommates and I fostered and trained a total of 16 dogs (not all at once!) that had been abandoned in the desert. All were different, all had their unique personalities and all were totally terrified at the beginning. After a few months of work, exercise, and a lot of love, I am proud to say that every single one was adopted in a good home. From 2 month old puppies to 12 year old seniors, they all needed – and got- love.

  2. I have always had rescue dogs and cats. After my last rescue passed away at 16 years old I said that was it. Two years later I adopted a puppy. People can’t imagine how much joy a rescue dog, puppy, kitten or cat can bring to their home.
    You are right a puppy is a lot of work and it goes on for a good couple of years but well worth it. When you rescue an older dog they have issues too but with love and trust you will have a loyal friend for the rest of his/her life.

  3. Great hints. My son has 3 rescue dogs from a wonderful organization where the dogs are in foster families that work diligently with them and really know their personalities and what kind of home they would fit best.

  4. These steps are really important for a successful transition. Be sure to allow your dog time to decompress – it is a new environment and they aren’t sure what is happening. Rescue one till there are none. Thanks for the informative helpful article!

  5. Pinned and sharing on a future dog-related post and on the Weekend Edit in September. My sister is a founder of Adopt a Golden Knoxville. We are huge fans of adoption. laura in Colorado


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