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Adopting A Rescue Dog: The First 7 Days [2023 Checklist]

Adopting A Rescue Dog The First Seven Days

Excited to take your rescue dog home?

Oh, you sure are…

But wait, there are some things you should know.

The first week of your rescue pooch with you is crucial in the long run.

So, how about a checklist that can help you be ready?

Continue reading to discover:

  • 11 things to do in the first 7 days of having a rescue dog at home.
  • How to properly introduce your rescue dog to other people and canines (very important).
  • And many more…

Adopting a rescue dog? Do these 11 things in the first 7 days (checklist)

#1: Skip the ‘Welcome Home’ party

You might be thinking…

Your rescue pooch is gonna be a part of the family now…

And you know how important it is that they feel welcome.

Then, say that you live in a multi-people household. 

Now, your family is just about as excited as you are.

Moreover, you might also have other dogs. So, you feel that they’ll be looking forward to another canine friend.

First, let me say that all those excitement and anticipation are valid.

C’mon, it’s a new addition to the family…

And yes, your rescue dog will be appreciated by everyone…

But, there’s a time for introductions…

And it’s not during a ‘welcome home’ party on their first day.


You see, being brought to a new home can be overwhelming for your adopted dog.

The whole change in location and the incoming adjustments to their routine…

All of those can feel too much at first.

And I know that everybody’s intention is well…

But it really is best to skip the introductions for a while. 

Instead, let your pooch settle in the house first.

Now, when is it time for such?

To answer, let’s break it down with the guide of PetMD:

Introducing other people to your rescue dog

Actually, the sense isn’t introducing other people to your pooch…

Because it should go the other way around…


What I mean is that your rescue dog should be the one to introduce themself.

Yep, everyone has to follow and respect your pupper’s pace.

Your adopted canine must approach these new people first.

So, tell the people to ignore your pupper for a while. 

Let the dog settle and observe them.

Although, it wouldn’t hurt to hand your family or friends some treats. Then, tell them to call on your fur baby from a distance.

Such an exercise is like a sign that your dog can trust them.

And during this, you must observe your pupper’s body language.

If they already seem uneasy with all the calling, stop the activity for a while.

And don’t lose hope…

Maybe your pooch will come to your family or friends on their own.

They’ll do so without the need for lures like treats.

So, you just gotta remain patient and respect their pace.

Introducing other dogs to your rescue dog

Some people think it’ll be natural to introduce a dog to another canine.

But it isn’t always smooth sailing…

And it might look like it is, but you might actually overwhelm your rescue pooch.

With that, you must be careful of introducing them to another dog.

The first thing to do is find a neutral place for them to meet.

For example, the living room is everybody’s place in the house.

And that’s the perfect meeting place.

Note: Make sure dogs are on a leash on their first meeting.

Now, as they get to know each other, observe both of their body languages.

If they’re interested, they’ll both happily wag their tail.

But if their ears are tucked and posture is off…


Distance them from each other first.

And I suggest that another person take your resident dog out for a walk.

This is ideal as your rescue pooch tries to settle on their new space.

You might also want to know: Why is my dog suddenly afraid of strangers?

#2: Place them on one space only

Now, let’s talk about settling your rescue dog…

Where should you do so?

I highly suggest a spot on the house with reasonable traffic.

Not so much like the living room or kitchen where everybody hangs out.

Then, not the laundry room as well, where no one goes that much.

So, pick a spot where your rescue dog can oversee the daily happenings. 

Then, set a fence around them using a baby gate. You can also put them on a crate.

Now, why is this important?

First of all, it lets Fido get a sense of what’s going on.

They’ll see how things usually go around your place.

Plus, setting them on one spot can help set limitations and boundaries.

Moreover, it can support their well-being, too.

As I said, all these changes are overwhelming for your adopted canine.

So, a spot that’s only for them will make them feel safe. That along with the sense of belonging in the family.

All in all, this contributes to a smooth transition for your pooch.

They’d easily feel at ease with this method.

And as always, let them take their time.

You can open the crate or let them off from time to time. And let them decide if they’ll go out or not.

The important thing is to provide them the opportunity to choose.

Reading tip: 7 Reasons Why It’s So Hard To Adopt A Dog From A Rescue

#3: Get them used to being on a leash

Get Your Rescue Dog Used To Being On A Leash In The First Seven Days

Hear me out on this one…

Putting your rescue dog on a leash won’t be cruel.

In fact, it might help both of you if they’re on leash, even inside the house.

How so?

First of all, it lets you gain more control over your pooch. And you won’t be using such control in a bad way.

Instead, you’ll be taking advantage of this by letting it assist you.

In what?

For establishing discipline and setting behaviors that you expect.

So, although the welcome wagon is scrapped…

A good house tour should still be on the table.

And it’ll be best if they’re on a leash while you show them around.

Plus, you’ll be able to see how they react on a leash.

So whatever issues might arise, you can start working on them immediately.

Most of all, the leash can help prevent many things.

Like if you don’t want them getting to this side of the house or going near a plant…

With a leash, those will be easy to avoid.

Editor’s pick: Can A Dog Wear A Collar And A Harness? 3 Dangers

#4: Reinforce wanted behaviors

It’s never too early to start with training…

But since your pooch is still adjusting, don’t fully practice anything yet.

Instead, praise any right behaviors that they’ll show themself.

Moreover, reward every desirable habit you wanna keep in the long run.

For example, your rescue dog peed on the pee pad you set for them. Or they did their potty break in your backyard.

Such is what you expect from them. And so, you can reward their initiative.

Plus, praising even the smallest thing can lead to significant changes.

An example is when they finally drink water from their bowl.

When you recognize that, your pooch will know that they’re intended to do that. 

So, they’ll continue practicing it. And now, they know that the water bowl is theirs.

Moreover, positive reinforcement is the best training method. 

According to research, rewarding your dog during training makes them optimistic.

Compare that to when you punish a dog. ..

Their data shows that punished canines have compromised welfare…

That even outside training, their stress continues to prevail.

And if your rescued pooch comes from an abusive background…

Oh, they’ll appreciate such a change.

It might be a refresher for them to go from being afflicted to being treated right. And the latter is what they deserve wholeheartedly.

Continue reading: 13 Tips To Help A Rescue Dog That Is Scared Of Everything

#5: Adapt to routines

This is one of the most important things in this checklist…

It’s crucial to build routines even on your rescue dog’s first week.


Dogs are creatures that do great in consistency.

Take it from this research:

Their data tells us that dogs are more obedient when their parents are consistent.

Moreover, routines will be great for your pup’s well-being.

It can help with their adjustment.


With routines, they can expect their daily life. 

And such can make them feel at ease…

The familiarity will help with the process of belonging.

So, here are the things that you should make sure of:

  • Regular exercise. 
  • Scheduled playtimes.
  • Established meal schedules.

#6: Exercise them regularly

Exercise Them Regularly

When your rescue dog arrives, they might be low in energy.

Again and again, they might still be stunned by all the changes.

And adapting can take a lot of their power.

So, they’re bound to sit or lie still during the first few days.

But don’t let that stop you from introducing them to exercise.

That’s because they still need such activities.

It’ll be for the sake of their health.

So, start to take them on short walks first.

You must also pick a calm place to walk them.

Then, stay off dog parks for now…

Instead, a nice stroll around a quiet block will do.

Plus, this can also help with getting to know your pooch.

First, walking is a great bonding activity. Then, you can also see how they’ll react to being on a leash outside.

Moreover, I explained the importance of routine earlier on..

So, say that your pooch has finally adjusted…

Then, their normal energy level will be back.

With that, they’ll appreciate a walking routine that’s already in place.

#7: Resist spoiling them

Bringing home a rescue dog is a wonderful experience…

It’s giving this loving creature a second chance…

Moreover, you know they deserve so much love as well.

With that, you’re determined to love them so much, it hurts.

And you’re not wrong in aiming for those…

But you’ll have to take it down a notch during the first week.

Trust me on this one…

It’s the best thing for you and your pooch.

So, resist your urge to spoil your pupper for now.

If not, they’ll get conditioned into thinking they can get whatever they want.

And that’s not something you want to happen.

That’s because they can bring that thinking for a long time.

So, only reward them when necessary.

#8: Don’t shower them with affection

Yet another reminder for a loving dog parent…

As much as possible, don’t focus your whole attention on them in the first week.

I know, it’s tempting…

But only attend to your rescue dog when necessary.

And this sounds a lot like the previous section. But that’s focused on the rewards that can condition your pooch.

This time, it’s still about a reward…

But it’s not tangible…

You see, dogs consider your attention as a prize.

With that, you must avoid providing such in high frequencies.

So, don’t always cuddle with your pupper.

Moreover, your pooch might also whimper from time to time.

Sometimes, there’s a good reason behind it…

But other times, they might just be seeking attention.

According to vets, here are other attention-seeking behaviors in dogs:

When they show any of these, don’t always answer them.

Resist the urge, even if they’re being as cute as thee dogs:

Yep, you’re gonna have to ignore your fur baby if they start begging for attention.

But only do so when they seek attention for their entertainment’s sake.

All in all, this can reduce the chances of them developing clinginess.

Moreover, it can lessen separation anxiety in the long run.

#9: Leave them from time to time

This is quite similar to the previous one as well…

You must leave your pooch from time to time.

And I’m not just talking about letting them be in one corner. And while they’re at it, you’re gonna do your thing around the house.

Sure, such is still needed…

After all, you still have a lot to accomplish for the day.

But, I’m talking about leaving them alone with themself only…

Such is bound to happen anyway.

Say that you got school or a full-time job.

Eventually, you’re gonna be out of their sight.

So, you have to condition your rescue dog with that setup.

On their adjustment period, leave them from time to time.

Only do so for brief moments.

You can leave the house for a while or just stay in the backyard.

The latter will easily let you know how they might potentially react.

If they cry after you leave, you’ll be able to hear from a short distance.

Moreover, you can assess how you’ll arrive after leaving them.

When leaving an anxious dog, they might become destructive.

And doing this exercise will let you know if they’re capable of such.

#10: Consistency is key

Earlier, I mentioned that dogs thrive in consistency.

There, I talked about how important a routine is for dogs.

Now, let me elaborate more…

Here, I’ll be talking about consistency in making and applying rules.

For example, the couch is off-limits for dogs.

But, you wanna stay kind to your rescue dog.

And so, you give in to their request of staying on the couch with you.

With that, they begin thinking that the couch is a welcome zone for them.

And when you finally break it to your pooch that it isn’t…

Uhmm, that won’t be good…

That’s because they’ll get confused.

At first, they’re welcome. And now, you’re saying that the couch is off-limits?

Now, such confusion might lead to more behavioral issues.

So, stay consistent with rules starting on the very first day.

Moreover, implement those rules as final.

#11: Remain observant

Everything is an essential practice during this crucial period.

So, it’s best to practice everything.

And while you do, remain observant.

This period is the best time to do so.

Plus, anything you notice can be changed and improved.

Then, your response towards any issues that might arise can affect the long term.

So, what should you watch out for?

Know their triggers

As a rescue dog, they might have a troubled past.

With that, they might have things that scare them.

They could have triggers that you don’t know.

And if those show, they might react in a way you don’t expect.

So, always observe your pup’s reactions to everything.

According to the MSDVM, these are the usual signs of fear in dogs:

Moreover, here are some of the possible triggers:

  • Other dogs.
  • Unfamiliar people.
  • Loud and sudden noises.
  • Visual stimuli (ex. uniforms).

Get a sense of their personality

Like humans, every dog is different from the other.

That’s why they also have varying personalities.

So, observe how your rescue dog acts around you and everything else.

Moreover, see how they respond to children or other dogs.

Then, zoom in on their disposition…

Are they sweet? Or are they aloof?

There are so many things to observe to get a sense of their personality.

So, be really watchful.

Moreover, play and bond with them during scheduled playtimes.

Such would be a great time to be observant.