Please, always adopt a dog first!

This wonderful guest post from Zara Lewis adds real weight to the title.

There is no doubt in my mind that hundreds of you good people out there love and care for dogs that were first seen in a dog shelter or rescue centre.

But at the same time, inevitably, there are those who want to learn more about adopting a dog.

Zara Lewis has written another guest post that is a real help to those who are uncertain as to how to care for a newly-adopted dog.


Five Tips on Making Your Adopted Dog Feel at Home

by Zara Lewis, May 24th, 2018

Adopting a dog is one of the noblest and most rewarding decisions you can make. With dog shelters filled to the brim with pooches in need of a loving home, there is really no reason to support the inhumane ways of the puppy mill industry; instead, welcoming a shelter dog into your family will save not one, but two lives.

However, sometimes welcoming an adopted dog into your home can seem like a daunting task. How do you banish their fears of abandonment, their anxiety, and the instilled behavioral patterns that define them yet are unsuited for domesticated life? How do you truly make them feel at home, loved, and most importantly, safe? Here to answer these questions are the five tips that will make this transition as pleasant and rewarding as possible.

Set the stage for the pooch

First things first, there’s a lot to be done before your pooch actually arrives at what will be their new, loving home. You want to make sure you have covered all the basics, from deciding where the dog will sleep and eat, all the way to buying a sizable crate and all of the necessities your new furry friend might need.

This includes getting in touch with a trusted veterinarian and making an appointment for the following day. You can never be too careful, no matter how trustworthy the shelter staff are. For the time being, you will want to roll up all of your carpets so that the dog gets used to walking around the house (they tend to stick to carpets when confronted by sleek surfaces), and don’t forget to buy a leash, plenty of toys, and most importantly, dog treats for those long training sessions ahead.

Let them explore the place one day at a time

One of the biggest mistakes new dog owners inadvertently make is letting their new companion explore the new surroundings freely the minute they bring them home. Although completely understandable and very nice of you to want to make your new dog feel welcome, this is a common mistake that will result in plenty of pee stains on the floor you’ll have to scrub out.

Moreover, you might even frighten the pooch, so you want to let them familiarize themselves with the surroundings gradually. It’s always an excellent idea to buy a crate so that they can have their “safe space”, and explore the household one day at a time.

Banish anxiety and set some ground rules

Being adopted is a thrilling, wonderful, joyous experience for a dog, but it’s also a traumatic one. More often than not, your new pooch will come with some emotional baggage you will want to eliminate as soon as possible to avoid behavioral issues induced by anxiety, stress, and fear. It’s also never a bad idea to let a professional lend a helping hand. In Australia, for instance, dog training is sort of a must among homeowners.

In the Land Down Under, adopting a dog is a serious matter involving thorough preparation and planning, and professional dog training in Sydney and across the country is readily available to all homeowners looking to instill positive habits in their new dog, and banish their fears. Remember, dogs ,above all, require firm but loving guidance in order to find their place in the pack, and feel like a part of the family.

Let them have their personal space

It often seems as if dogs haven’t the faintest idea what personal space is, as attested to by thousands of pet videos circling the web; but in fact, they do. And they cherish their personal space very much. Your new furry compadre needs time to heal, to reflect on their past experiences, and take in this new scenario they’re in. Needless to say, this is a stressful time for them and although they require plenty of time and attention, it’s important to recognize the moments when peace and quiet are all they need.

Make your dog feel loved and safe

Finally, this is not the time to be going through other important chapters in your life. This is the time you want to devote solely to the upbringing of your new pooch, so if you’re having personal issues you need to resolve, do it before you get a dog. Remember that they need your undivided attention and lots of it.

You will be spending plenty of time quietly stroking their back to make them feel safe, playing with them to develop a trusting bond, and plenty of time teaching them to behave. This requires patience and positivity, so make sure you’re ready and willing to take on this beautiful responsibility.

There is an ideal dog out there for you. And while a purebred dog would make an amazing lifelong companion as well, there is not quite a feeling as magnificent and rewarding as adopting a shelter dog. With these essential tips, you will have no problem making your new best friend feel right at home.

Zara Lewis

Zara is a contributing editor at and a contributor at TheWellnessInsider


What a fabulous post. Thank you, Zara. (And let me close by saying that out of our six dogs, five have been rescued in one form or another!)


42 thoughts on “Please, always adopt a dog first!

  1. What a terrific post, Zara! I agree with adoptions. It is true. Like people, dogs need me time.
    My Boxer, Sophie, would routinely disappear to another room for a moment of zen.


  2. I would like to add that, before adopting any dog, one should talk to both the shelter staff and a vet about the potential costs involved in caring for a dog. There are so many “dog pages” on Facebook etc., and it it is very common to read an appeal for help with a badly behaving dog …. but they “cannot afford a trainer.” Perhaps this is not the right time to get a dog simply due to financial reasons.
    Prospective dog owners should also note that (at least around here), many professional trainers will not work with a dog unless the owner is present. From their perspective, they are training the owner how to work with their dog … which triggers the necessary bonding between dog and owner, and is also educational such that the owner can move forward with further training possibly on their own.
    Finally, potential adopters must consider the habits/characteristics of the various breeds. A Husky pup may be the ultimate in cuteness, but force it to grow up in a high-rise apartment and it is a recipe for a disaster.
    In summary, adopting a dog will be a continual drain on finances (can you afford it?) – dog professionals (trainers/behaviorists) are an invaluable resource and can be expensive – choose a dog that will easily adapt to your lifestyle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi ColineAndRay,
      Thank you for your comment, I totally agree, one should first be well informed about the expenses, duties etc. Giving up on a newly adopted dog due to unexpected responsibilities is definitely not the best possible scenario.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good Post.

    I want to add to what Colin said. Dog trainers are expensive but some post ‘how to videos’ on YouTube … Rob Peladeu is worth looking at… He is able to train even the most untrainable dogs.
    And this is one I used to help me retrain a dog under my care at a three week housesit…

    Each dog is individual (like us) and traumatized dogs present weird behaviours the must be taken into account when training. But if a successful adoption is going to happen, you have to be prepared to train to ease the dog’s anxiety. And it is intensive, constantly repetitive (initially) and challenging, as your new pet will have to go at a pace comfortable for it. Some, like my little housesit buddy, respond really fast to big changes, others may take months. You will only know once you start. And commitment here will be as challenging as taking home a newborn baby. 😊


    1. Paul…can you please show the link I put in above… The trainer was Nigel Reed on how to loose leash train your dog to heel and a very valuable ‘how to,’ I think.


      1. Thanks Paul… His name is Nigel Reed (not Colin) and as his home page reads… He is ‘The Dog Guardian.’
        His videos are few, but he explains so well how to break dogs of bad behaviour.


      1. Absolutely! My little charge, ‘Spot’ was his name, responded so well to little treats and lots of positive reinforcement. After each session, I would go sit on the sofa and he would follow, go up on his hind legs putting his front paws around my neck for a human-like hug. He was always the instigator of this bonding. It gave him further confirmation that he was doing the right thing. Then he’d go for a sleep to absorb all the new learning… His little paws running in happy dreams.


      2. Well it should be a no-brainer really! Do you want your dog to cooperate because it wants to please you … or because it is scared to do otherwise? I like the analogy of a teenager – you can threaten him/her with a 2 x 4 and get cooperation, but that teenager will eventually hit back and/or leave the home. A dog does not have the leave home option …. it may well bite.


      3. Okay!

        People more learned than I compare the mental development of a dog to that of a 3 year old child which, in the context of training, raises the question “If you wouldn’t do it to a 3 year old child, perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it to a dog?”


      4. That is a very pertinent, and powerful, analogy!

        To which I would add that both the young child and the dog will demonstrate positive and loving dividends from that investment for the rest of their lives!


  4. Zara, thank you for stepping in so brilliantly! It’s a little after 6am here in Oregon and I have just read all the replies so far and Zara’s kind responses.

    Well done, the team! 👌


    1. I am glad to see it opened some questions, love to see people communicate and exchange their thoughts 🙂


  5. What a great post! I brought my dog, Zero, home from the animal shelter 11 years ago and she was terrified of everything- for sure needed her personal space. We worked with her and now she’s a crazy silly girl that’s about to go with me in August to camp across the US full time. Great post and tips!!


    1. Eva, a very warm welcome to this place. Thank you for your kind words. Regarding your kind nomination, I regret that a rather busy schedule just now may delay me from participating for a while.


    1. Welcome! I’m assuming the name is Rosie? Yours, that is! 😊 Anyway, a very warm welcome to this place and hope to see you again. Even better if you were to consider writing a guest post of your “few challenges”!

      Now been to your place and realise you are Tanya and your lovely dog is Rosie!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This happens to be one of the best posts that I have seen in a while about adopting a new dog. Bringing a dog into your lifestyle is very costly and very time consuming. With that being said it is so worth it at the end of the day to know that you have someone in your life that loves you more than themselves.

    My lab mix Daisy was a rescue whom I have grown to love over the past 3+ years with her. It took a little bit of time but for those of you who don’t think the advice about letting the dog explore one room at a time, well let me just say that I was one of those poor saps that wanted to be nice to my newly adopted dog and within a matter of just days she was up on all of our furniture and it took a little bit over a month to make sure that she knew that behavior wouldn’t be tolerated.

    One final thought on this article though. My advice would be that before you go to adopt a dog, that you set some ground rules for your house first. Make a list of the “Do’s and Don’ts” that you will allow your dog. Then stick to it. It will save you more time in the future not training your dog to not do something that she has already been doing.


    1. Well first let me offer you a very warm welcome to this place. Hope we will see you again. Yes, your response to this post is also full of good advice.
      When we first moved to Oregon back in 2012 of our 12 dogs that came with us, 10 of whom were ex-rescues. Sadly time takes its toll and now we are down to 6 of whom 5 are ex-rescues.

      I am of no doubt that ex-rescue dogs, while some may carry a few mental scars from their past lives, without a doubt are the most loving and affectionate dogs one could ever come across!

      Liked by 1 person

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