How to Settle an Adult Dog Rescue Dog Into Your Home.


Over the past few years there has been a dramatic increase in adult dogs looking for new homes. If you are thinking of giving a home to an adult rescue dog – read our Holidays4Dogs article on rescue dogs and settling in.

Taking on an older dog can be a very rewarding experience. It could well be a lifeline for an adult dog who, for whatever reason, has found himself in need of a new home. Thankfully, many people are much more open to adopting adult dogs – partly perhaps, because there is much more choice.

Adopting an adult dog.

If you are thinking of adopting an adult dog, the best place to start are your local animal rescue shelters. There may also be larger organisations nearby such as the RSPCA and The Dogs Trust.

Rescue homes such as these will have evaluated all their charges carefully and, therefore, should be able to match you with a suitable dog. It is important to think about how an adult dog will fit into your existing home and lifestyle.

Be wary of dogs offered for sale on pet classified advertisements. Some are genuine, but others may be attempting to get rid of a dog with serious behaviour, or health issues.

Bringing your new adult dog home.

The overall advice is not to crowd your new adult dog when you get him home. He may be feeling anxious and confused. The best thing you can do for the first day or two is to give him space to investigate his new surroundings.

This is particularly important if you already have an existing dog, or dogs, in the household. For introducing dogs to one another, read our helpful article here.

Of course, if he comes to you for affection provide this for him liberally. However, as tempting as it might be, try to avoid overwhelming him with too many activities, or new things, all at once.

Settling in a new adult dog.

While adult dogs have got past the puppy stages of development this doesn’t mean to say that house-training might not have taken a bit of a dent. If the dog has been in kennels, he may have forgotten about house-training rules and may need a refresher course. Don’t forget that he will not immediately know where the exit doors are either. Make sure he knows how to get into the garden.

Treat your new adult dog as if he were a puppy. Let him out frequently to toilet and praise lavishlydog sitting, pet sitting when he’s performed his ablutions.  This stage won’t last as long as it can potentially do with a puppy. Indeed, an adult dog that has previously lived in a home will usually be fairly reliable when it comes to house-training.

Avoid leaving your dog alone for any length of time for the first few days as he may well be feeling unsure and un-confident.  Try and make any trips out very short – or, pretend to leave the house and then return a few minutes later. Build the time up and get him used to you leaving and returning after a short period.

A new routine.

Don’t change your dog’s diet straight away, but keep providing him with the same food. If you do wish to change his diet, do this gradually over a period of a few days. This will reduce the chance of upset tummies at a time when the dog may already feel stressed.

While many rescue centres will have evaluated the temperament and character of your dog, you still need to give you and your dog time to learn about each other. It can take a while to form a bond with an adult dog.

A settling in period can usually take a number of weeks.  Dogs often have a ‘honeymoon’ period of around two weeks before their true character might start to come out. Always make sure you are calm and consistent throughout this time.


dog sitting, pet sittingBringing adult dog rescue dogs into your home is definitely to be recommended. I have had many more adult dogs than puppies over the years. While some have had behaviour issues which have needed addressing, they have, on the whole been much easier to deal with than puppies. Puppies can be exceptionally time consuming.

Giving an adult dog a home is a wonderful thing to do and you are just as likely to form a very strong bond with an older dog, as you would with a puppy – possibly more so, if you have been able to provide the dog with a loving, forever home, that he may not have previously ever known in his life.