Settling In A New Dog

The day you bring home a new dog can be life-changing. Rescue dogs in particular bring with them so much joy and happiness, but sometimes the settling-in process can also bring challenges. Here's what to expect and how best to prepare for adoption day.
Border collie sleeping

Planning Their Arrival

Before your pet arrives into their new home, it’s important to consider what they need, and what adjustments you may need to make.

The Bare Necessities

The amount of pet products on the market are endless, and if you want to really spoil your pet there are many ways to do that. However, to prepare for your pets arrival, it’s most important that their basic needs are met. Some of the basics include a collar / harness and lead, a bed, bowl and food. When you’re adopting from Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, we’ll offer plenty of advice on the right products for you new pet.


We highly recommend that you spend some time researching the costs around veterinary care and insurance before committing to having a dog in your life. It’s really important to consider what type of insurance policy you need. There are policies which last for a year, but when you come to renew, a completely new policy is arranged for the following year. These policies tend to be cheaper but mean that your next year’s policy is unlikely to cover ongoing health conditions diagnosed during the last policy. There are also lifetime policies which are renewed each year but will continue to cover treatment for diagnosed conditions. These tend to be a little more expensive but could be cheaper over the life of the pet.

All dogs adopted from Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home leave us with 4 weeks free insurance from PetPlan, allowing you time to make your own insurance arrangements or continue with this policy.

Register With A Vet

It is important to register with a vet as soon as possible. Talk to your local vet practice before taking your dog home, to ensure that they have space for a new client. For some dogs, the trips to the vets can seem never-ending, and of course you will do whatever it takes to keep your pet fit, healthy and happy. Hopefully your pet will only need little more than its annual boosters and worming and flea treatments.

A Safe Space

Whether or not you decide to crate train your dog, having their bed in a safe space, away from the noise of household life, is always a good idea to help settle them in. This might be a room that is less used, or even a quiet corner of the living room where they know they can go for some uninterrupted time by themselves.

To put your dog at ease, you could try out pheromone-dispensing products a few days prior to your new friend arriving. . These are highly rated by many dog owners, though they won’t work for every dog.

The First Days and Weeks

A loving home is all we hope for all the dogs and cats we care for, but it can take time for animals to settle into the household environment, especially where they may have been living in our kennels for many weeks or even months.

When you first take a new pet home, you can expect them to be either very excited, stressed, or a mixture of both, while they adjust to their new surroundings. You may see behaviours that naturally were not visible on your kennel visits, such as wetting or chewing household items. It’s important that you do not scold your new pet for these behaviours, and focus on making them as relaxed as possible in their new home – whether that’s by distracting them with a new toy, or giving lots of praise when they do something good or use the toilet in the right place.

Some dogs will be on their best behaviour during the first few weeks, and as they start to relax, they may start to show different behaviours and even be a bit naughty. This is also completely normal and means your dog has settled in well. If your dog’s behaviour starts to change, continue to reinforce the good behaviour with positive encouragement. We are here to offer advise where we can.

It’s a good idea if you limit visitors to your home during this early period to ensure that they get the focus they need without the additional stress of new faces.

We recommend that you start as you mean to go on – for example, if you’re not planning to let your dog sleep on the couch, it’s important that you set these boundaries from the start.

A Long-Term Partner

After a few months, your new dog will understand its routine – when it’s time for walks, bed or dinner for example. Having a strong routine is comforting for your new pet and at this point you may feel that they are finally ‘settled’ in your home. As the months go by, you will know your dog very well, along with any unwanted behaviours that may have emerged. This may be the time to engage a qualified dog trainer or behaviourist to support you and your pet through the training process.

Need More Advice?

Our helpful team at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home supports customers throughout the adoption process. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you would like any advice regarding your new pet.

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