Adopting a rescue dog in need can be of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Unconditional love, a furry paw to hold, and unlimited doggy kisses are just a few of the perks, but the biggest of all might be the opportunity to change the outcome of this sweet soul’s life. If you are getting ready to adopt a rescue dog we’ve got you covered with this guide to adopting a rescue dog!

Download the Guide to Adopting a Rescue Dog E-Book here

It’s a howlin’ good time! 🐶

Before Coming Home…

Let’s get started off on the right PAW! You’ll want to be sure you have the majority of the supplies needed prior to bringing home your pup. Think how HAPPY your new dog will be, coming into their new home with toys, treats, a bed, and more waiting just for THEM! It’s going to be just like CHRISTMAS (for you too)!!

Supply List

  • Dog food – if you can, try feeding the pup what the rescue had been feeding a progressive change it to your food of choice by mixing the two types.
  • Water and food bowls
  • Dog treats
  • Dog toys – a good variety of chew toys, balls, and tug toys are perect!
  • Dog bed
  • Dog crate – If you choose to use one, ensure it is the correct size for your new dog
  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Dog brushes or combs
  • Tags with your name and phone number
  • Nail clippers
  • Doggy shampoo (they might be a bit stinky at first)
  • Brushes and/or combs
  • Carpet cleaner (best to be prepared)
  • Doggy poop bags

Finding a Veterinarian

Before your new rescue dog comes home, it’s a good idea to get in touch with the veterinarian you are planning to use.

A relationship with your vet is great to start before your newly adopted rescue pup comes home. They will be a resource to help keep your pup happy and healthy. You can also schedule your first check-up for your new rescue dog.

The rescue or shelter you are adopting your dog from may have a recommendation for one if you need help finding a vet in your area.

Picking Up Your New Dog

The ride home!! So exciting! Be prepared, as your dog will more than likely be a bit stressed going with their new family into a strange car. It is a good idea to bring a crate or a way to safely buckle them into your car.

Bring your collar, leash, a new toy, and treats. Keep the leash and collar on your pup in the car so you can easily help them out of the car and into their brand-new life.

Day One

You made it!! Take a deep breath and welcome home your new floof, soon-to-be best friend! Don’t be too worried about being perfect. You’re just getting to know each other. To help day one go smoothly, here are a few things to do with your sweet dog:

First Order of Business

Take them out of the car with their leash on and give them ample time to sniff around to use the restroom.

Decompression Time

After they have had a chance to sniff around outside and you bring them in your house, give them time to decompress. There will be lots of sights and smells, so it is best to not overstimulate them by introducing them to too many things. If possible, keep other pets separate today. Pack your patience, and let your dog sniff and wander around. Try minimizing the amount of space they have to go to at first by closing off extra rooms or using baby gates.


When it is time to go to sleep, introduce them to the space they will be sleeping. You can give them the command, and help them lay where they should. Give them a treat and head to bed. They might cry at first and may need to be redirected to their bed several times. Be patient, and eventually, they will drift into a happy doggy dream, knowing they’re at their furever home.

Week One

A rescue dog’s decompression time can vary. They might acclimate right away, or it could take several months. Let this first week be a time for you and the pup to get to know each other. Take things slowly. Rescue dogs will need security, love, and patience. Here are some things you can do to help them get comfortable in your home during this first week with you:

  1. Potty training
  2. Setting boundaries
  3. Creating a predictable schedule
  4. Crate training

As the weeks grow into months, continue giving your dog the time to open up. There is no set amount of time for a rescue dog to become completely comfortable. It might be one week, six months, or more. Stay constant and stay patient. Reach out to the rescue or shelter if you need help or support. They are there to help you and your pup create a happy and successful relationship together.

For more tips and tricks adopting a rescue dog, like working through separation anxiety, to staying healthy, and more, download the full e-book for free here!