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7 Tips to Help Rescue Dogs Settle in their New Home

Getting settled: expert tips to help your rescue pet adjust to their new home

While bringing a new pet home is a very exciting time, it’s important to remember it can take a few weeks or even months for them to fully adjust to their new surroundings and family members.

Dog Behaviourist and Trainer, Lara Shannon, says there some essential tips which can assist with helping a rescue pet settle into their new home.

“Acquiring a new pet is a huge commitment and responsibility but can also be one of the most enriching relationships you will ever experience,” she says.

“If you’re planning to adopt a rescue, it’s important to get to know each other before deciding to bring them home, ensuring they are the right fit for your lifestyle and have the personality traits you’re looking for.

“Establishing a bond before going ahead with the adoption is the first step to a successful long-term adoption match. This can be done by spending time with them while they’re still in care and by speaking to their foster carer or rescue group to get a better understanding of their personality.

“Once you’ve put in the work to find your perfect match, it’s time to ensure life at home is as enjoyable as possible for both of you.”

Here’s some top tips from Lara to help make the transition of your new family member into your home as smooth and stress free as possible.

#1. Build up their independence

Try not to leave your dog alone for too long for the first few weeks to avoid separation anxiety as they adapt and settle into their new environment. The best way to get them used to being alone is to start with very small increments. 

Go into another room and leave them alone for just a few minutes, then leave through the front door and slowly increase the amount of time. Keep departures and arrivals relaxed and praise them when being calm - going too far too fast can make it worse.

#2. Be patient

7 years ago Porthos spent his first few days
under our desk with his Leopard plush toy
Patience is an important quality to have when welcoming an adopted dog into your home. 

Try not to lose your temper, raise your voice or punish your pet for bad behaviour as this can exacerbate the problem even more or cause fear and anxiety, which could lead to further issues.

Understandably, they will need time to adjust to their new environment and family – and patience along with positive reinforcement is the best approach.

#3. Training

It is possible that your new pet has already received basic training which is often one of the benefits of rehoming a rescue pet. 

Test their skills with common verbal cues and hand signals to see if or what they respond to. Find out what motivates them most and use it as their reward, such as food, a toy or squeaky ball.

It’s important to have a regular training schedule to promote good behaviour as well as provide bonding and enrichment for your pet

Always be clear, consistent and concise with your commands to avoid confusing them.

Even if you’ve adopted an adult animal, old dogs can still learn new tricks and there are plenty of private and group training options for older pets, not just puppy school.

#4. Keep on lead

Given your rescue dog may not know their surroundings, be anxious or may not have a good recall, always keep them on the lead when outside. Even if they are good at coming when called at home under high distraction, in strange environments they may panic and run off.

Always train and proof the recall at home, then start on lead in a fenced area outside the home and with minimal distractions. 

Then, slowly increase the distance and distractions. Once your dog returns every time on lead, you can move to the next step and add more distraction.

#5. Doggy proof your house

Remove dangerous items such as loose cables, breakables and hazardous plants that are toxic to pets. Always store household cleaners and medication out of reach

Make sure all boundary fencing is secure in outdoor areas and there are no holes or weak spots along your fence line for your pet to escape through.

#6. Responsibilities

Clearly define the household responsibilities to establish who will be primarily responsible for training, feeding and exercise. 

Adopting a rescue animal is a fantastic way to teach children responsibility, empathy and compassion.

#7. Establish boundaries

After 2 nights of hearing Porthos cry in the
laundry, we gave in and let him sleep on our bed!
He has never slept anywhere else in 7 years...
Provide clarity on where the dog is and will not be allowed

If bedrooms and bathrooms are a no-go zone then close the doors. Is the dog only allowed in a certain area of the house? If so, use a baby gate to fence off the area. 

It’s also essential to have a designated area (dog crate, laundry, etc) for your dog to sleep in, which is set up from day one to provide your pet with their very own safe space.

For more information on PETstock Assist’s National Pet Adoption Month, responsible pet ownership, training or how to become a foster carer please visit or to begin the search for your new family member, please visit

About PETstock Assist’s National Pet Adoption Month:

Throughout March 2021, PETstock Assist will celebrate its inaugural National Pet Adoption Month as an extension of its annual initiative National Pet Adoption Day, to help change the lives of rescue pets and humans in an effort to break the cycle of pet homelessness in Australia.

Over the past six years, PETstock Assist has helped rehome more than 12,000 animals through its initiative. PETstock Assist is encouraging would-be pet owners to Adopt Different this March – to adopt a new way of thinking when it comes to rescue pets, shed unfair stereotypes and make considered, sustainable choices to find a pet best fit for their lifestyle.


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