This is how to help your dog adjust to their new home, according to an expert

Chocolate labrador asleep on the sofa whilst her owner strokes her ea
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When you bring a new pet home, it can be quite a scary or intimidating experience for them. There are not only unfamiliar people, but perhaps unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells, too, and whether you’ve got a young pet or an adult animal, they’re likely to need some time to adjust before truly settling in. 

Of course, you’ll have bought everything they need to feel happy and safe, and probably a few of the best dog toys too, to keep them occupied and stimulated, but what else can you do to help a new pup adjust to their forever home?

Well, certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has outlined a few things in a new Instagram post. Will you give her advice a try the next time you’re helping a new dog settle in? 

In Goodman’s video, she introduces an eight-month-old Bernedoodle, Rosie, who’s just moved into her new home. She explains that she spent most of their first meeting on the floor in the bathroom with her, because that’s where she felt safe.

“Being shut down and stressed is very normal,” Goodman says, “Because her world was flipped upside down after living in a completely different environment.”

Goodman explains that Rosie was “very unsure” when she went out for a walk, showing signs of stress. When you have a dog in the same situation, Goodman recommends letting them check everything out and take things in without any pressure or expectation. Let your dog decide the direction to go, if possible, and let them stop when they want to if it’s safe to do so. Whether you’re bringing home a puppy for the first time or adopting a new rescue dog, it’s important that there’s no pressure on them. 

Rosie was nervous about cars going by, so Goodman says that she simply sat down with her and gave her treats. As she puts it, “The first part of this process is relationship building, letting her know she can trust me, and being her cheerleader.”

Once you’ve done that, you can begin moving on to training other skills. “Rosie has a foundation with some basic training so the main goal to start is building her confidence and socialization out in the world,” says Goodman. 

Remember that patience is key, however – expecting too much too soon is one of the 32 most common mistakes new dog owners make. After all, your dog doesn’t know why they’ve gone from a rescue shelter or from their mother and littermates to you, or how they’ve changed location. They’ll need time to get used to their new life, just as a human in the same situation would. But, with time and love, it likely won’t be too long until it’s felt as though they’ve lived with you forever!

If your new addition is a rescue dog, you might find this article useful: I tried everything to help my nervous rescue dog settle in — here’s what actually worked.

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Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.