Getting ready to bring a new dog home? Whether you're getting a new puppy or adopting an older dog, below you'll find my top product recommendations to help them settle in and adjust to their new environment and routine.
Regardless of where your dog came from — shelter, rescue, foster home, breeder, or even your neighbor down the street — joining your family is a change. And change can be stressful for dogs. Dogs will go through an "adjustment period" when they first come into a new home.
You can ease and shorten their adjustment period and minimize your own stress by being well-prepared with things that can help your dog settle into their new life.
Whether you want your new pup to sleep in a crate, their own bed, or share the bed with you — that's totally up to you! But keep in mind that using a crate or playpen will help with puppy potty training and prevent potty accidents in your bed or around your home.
Below are some of my favorite crates and other bedding to make your dog's resting spot cozy and inviting. For an in-depth look at setting up your dog's sleeping spot, check out these resources:
The Revol crate from Diggs is my top pick because of its ease of setup, portability, and the top panel opening.
The MidWest Homes ex-pen has various heights to choose from and the option for a door in one of the panels. I use these beyond puppyhood, as temporary gates throughout the home or outdoors as needed.
Many dogs find comfort in being able to "nest" and curl up in a cozy bed. I like this bed because it allows for nesting behavior ("digging" in blankets).
If you have a new puppy or a dog that loves to chew on soft bedding, a dog cot is a better choice than a soft bed. Make sure to pick the size that is appropriate for your crate.
Some dogs have trouble settling in their crate if there's lots of activity or movement happening in the room. Reduce visual stimulation by covering the crate with a crate cover or lightweight sheet. A crate cover can also help dogs sleep longer in the mornings, especially during summer months when it gets light out earlier.
As your new dog acclimates to their new home, it's important to set them up for success as far as preventing door dashing, counter surfing, or destructive chewing. This could be as simple as keeping certain doors shut, but may require strategic gate placement. Below are my go-to's for dog gates.
This is the gate I personally use to block off my kitchen from the front entryway of my home. It has extensions for wide spaces and has an easy-to-use opening mechanism to walk through.
If you have a hard-to-fit or large entry, a free-standing gate is your best bet. These types of gates are easy to move around your home as needed, and can even be used to block access to unsafe plants or other items you don't want your dog chewing on.
For large dogs, I recommend a hardware-mounted gate so that they can't easily push it out of place.
Picking your dog's "clothes" is more than just what looks cute. You'll want something comfortable and safe. below are my top picks in leashes, collars, and harnesses.
For more about how to choose your new dog's gear, check out:
The Blue9 Balance Harness is ideal for a variety of dog sizes and shapes because it has multiple adjustment points. Especially if you have a new puppy, choosing a harness that can grow with them for as long as possible will save you money.
I do the majority of my dog walks on a long leash, which allows my dogs more freedom. My favorite long leash is this soft nylon rope option from Mendota. It's soft, pliable, and less likely to cause rope burn.
For when I need a shorter leash, my go-to is the Ruffwear Knot-A-Leash. I've been using the same one for over ten years – it's durable! I also like the locking carabiner clip for added safety and the extra opening under the handle where I clip the poo-bag dispenser so it's out of the way.
Adjusting to a new home can be stressful! The options below are helpful for supporting a calmer transition.
These products from Adaptil release a synthetic version of the same pheromone a nursing mother dog emits after giving birth. It can help during the initial transition to a new home, during travel, or during other typically stressful experiences like grooming or vet visits.
While this looks like a stuffed dog toy, its purpose is actually more than that! For new puppies learning to sleep apart from their mother and littermates, this mimics the feel of a warm body next to them and the soothing heartbeat. Do not allow your dog to chew on this toy if using it with the warming packs or battery-operated heartbeat.
Talk to your puppy's veterinarian about whether adding a calming supplement from the list below is a good option to help them settle into their new home or to use for specific higher-stress situations, such as grooming, vet visits, or sound events.
To reduce startling sounds and create a calming environment, I'm a big fan of using a white sound noise machine. My favorite is the SNOOZ, but you can also use a box fan, or turn on calming music.
Ditch the boring dog food bowl and use interactive dog puzzles and feeders instead. Not only does this burn excess energy, but it also provides enrichment, slows down eating, and can be used as a calming activity.
Safety Note: As with all toys, supervise your dog to ensure their safety. Toys and puzzles should be sized appropriately for your dog so they cannot be choked on or swallowed, and thrown away when they become damaged.
A great introductory option for a stuffed food toy is the West Paw Toppl. The opening is larger than other brands, which reduces frustration and makes it easy for your dog to lick it completely clean. Plus, it's dishwasher-safe, making sanitizing it between uses quick and easy.
I love snuffle mats for feeding dry dog food. Just sprinkle their meal over the mat and run your hand over it to help the kibbles settle deeper into it for longer-lasting sniffing.
This snuffle mat provides a variety of hiding spots for dry food or treats, encouraging your dog to use their nose to find their meal and helping to slow down eating.
Licking can be especially calming for dogs. Schmear wet dog food or other dog-safe ingredients onto a licking mat and then freeze. Licking mats are also great distractions for when you need to brush your dog or trim their nails.
Dogs need to chew! And if you don't want them to pick your new shoes as their favorite chew toy, make sure to provide them with other appropriate options. Edible chews are enticing and keep your dog occupied. They're perfect for helping to teach your new dog to settle in their crate or playpen.
Trainer Tip: Regularly switch out which toys and chews your dog has available to maintain a higher value for these over other things around your home. Variety is the spice of life!
Safety Note: As with all chews, supervise your puppy to ensure their safety. Throw away chews before they are small enough to swallow. Learn which popular chew toy options are NOT safe here.
I am a huge fan of bully sticks! But because they are high-value, many dogs will eat them quickly or swallow them, which can make them a choking hazard. That's why I always recommend using a bully stick holder to reduce this risk. Don't give bully sticks too often, as they can upset your dog's GI tract. Save these high-value chews for crate practice or to give your dog something to do while you eat dinner (this helps prevent begging at the table!).
Another tip — always choose the "odor-free" option for bully sticks. Otherwise, they are quite stinky!
I prefer rawhide alternatives for my dogs, and the Earth Animal No-Hide chews come in a variety of sizes and flavors.
It's never too early to start a dental hygiene routine for your dog! I like using dental chews for an extra way to keep my dog's teeth healthy beyond their usual toothbrushing. I like the Whimzees because of the texture and shape, and then the Virbac chews for a vet-approved rawhide option.
These chews are made with non-GMO ingredients and no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, gluten, or meat. They're perfect for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities.
To help your new dog settle in, it's crucial to have an understanding of how to best communicate and understand their behavior. They may exhibit seemingly over-the-top behavior during their transition period or be more shut down than usual. Creating a trusting relationship and strong bond will benefit both of you for life!
Connecting with a certified dog trainer can help you make sure they are acclimating and prevent problematic issues before they arise. Look for well-run puppy classes near you for socialization help and basic training, sign an adult dog up for a basic manners class or a dog sport class or invest in one-on-one coaching for in-depth help.
No convenient training classes near you? Virtual dog training is a great option for many dog owners with busy schedules, a lack of local training facilities, or while waiting on initial puppy vaccinations. We offer virtual training workshops and one-on-one coaching through Pupstanding Academy.