Skip to main content
San Diego Humane Society

Adopting a Dog: Getting Ready

Congratulations on adopting your new dog! Here is some basic info to help everyone settle in together.

Supplies You Should Have

  • Dog food, water bowl, food bowl and/or Kongs/enrichment toys, treats for training.
  • 6-foot leash and collar.
  • Toys (chew bones, chew toys).
  • Bed (dog bed, blanket or towels).
  • Crate and/or baby gates.

Set Up a Confinement Area

  • This should be a place your dog will stay when you can’t provide 100% supervision.
  • Should be easy to clean, and easy to close off with a door or baby gate.
  • Should be mostly free of furniture and non-dog related objects (remember, everything is a potential chew toy to a dog).
  • Best place is a crate, or in the kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, etc.
  • Furnish with something soft to sleep on, water bowl (depends on how long left alone) and several toys, including a favorite bone or chew toy.
  • Should have special chews or toys your pup only gets when being confined.

3 Advantages of Confinement Areas

  1. Prevents your new pup from chewing anything inappropriate while you are not present.
  2. It’s a place your dog can call his own to easily transition into his new home.
  3. Sets him up for success in the process of housetraining.

Crate Training

  • Aides in the process of housetraining.
  • Teaches your pup to settle when you are not present.
  • Prevents any unwanted destruction of items in your home.
  • Provides a home away from home.
  • Creates a secure way to travel in the car.
  • Read more about crate training
  • View this video for some tips on getting your dog to go into their crate on cue.

When You Arrive Home

  • Right away, take your dog out for a walk or bathroom break.
  • Introduce him on leash to his new home, including his confinement area.
  • Keep him within eyesight at all times when loose in the house.
  • Practice confinement from the start: Give your dog a chew bone or a stuffed Kong and leave him alone in the confinement area for approximately five minutes.
  • If your dog begins to howl, whine or bark, wait until he has been quiet for at least 10 seconds before you respond. Otherwise, your dog will learn that whining or barking makes you appear or gets him out of the confinement area and he’ll bark or cry for longer periods of time.
  • You will want to spend every minute with your dog when he first comes home, however getting your dog used to alone time is extremely important.
  • You should start to prepare your new dog for a normal routine as soon as possible. He must learn to be relaxed, calm and settled when he’s alone to help reduce anxiety when you leave for work, grocery shopping, school, etc.
  • Practice confinement throughout the day when you are at home, not just when you leave for work or go to bed. Vary the length of your absences from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, and repeat them throughout the day.

Bedtime Tips

  • Mentally and/or physically exhaust your dog before bed as this will help them sleep through the night.
  • Good rule of thumb when you are housetraining is to pull their water about an hour and half before going to bed; this will help your pup to sleep through the night.
  • Most dogs would like to sleep in the same room as their new family, however if this is not something you are comfortable with, make sure to place the confinement area out of the room right from the start.
  • Make sure to take your dog out to potty before placing them in their confinement area for the night.
  • Place a toy or chewing item in your dog’s crate or sleeping area when you leave him for the night.
  • It’s important to not let your dog out of his confinement area if he is crying or barking. If he gets attention for barking, he will keep it up for long periods of time.

Housetraining Tips

  • When bringing home your new dog, just assume he is not housetrained. It’s best to treat him like a young puppy that needs direction and supervision.
  • Until your dog is perfectly housetrained, never leave him alone unless he’s in his confinement area.
  • Take your dog out on leash frequently. Start by walking him at half-hour intervals.
  • If you see your dog sniffing and circling in the house, take him out immediately.
  • Praise and reward him with a treat when he relieves himself outdoors.
  • Never yell or punish your dog for a potty accident in the house.
  • See this Housetraining article for detailed instructions.


  • Dogs need both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Remember: A tired dog is a happy dog!
  • A good exercise program will make your dog a more relaxed and enjoyable companion. Depending on your dog’s energy level, he will benefit greatly from daily aerobic exercise.
  • Daily training and food “puzzle” toys provide your dog with mental stimulation.
  • Dog training classes help provide mental and physical stimulation.


Behavior Helpline: Contact our Behavior Team

For behavior questions, please contact our Behavior Helpline either by calling 619-299-7012, ext. 2244, emailing or filling out our Ask a Trainer form. San Diego Humane Society Adopters can fill out the Post Adoption Consultation form to schedule their troubleshooting session. We aim to respond within 7 days, but responses may take up to 2 weeks. Thank you for your patience!

Note: Due to the potential for serious injury, canine and feline aggression are best handled by a professional who specializes in aggressive behaviors. Because phone or email counseling is inadequate for addressing serious behavior concerns, we ask that you contact a qualified professional for help. Please refer to the list of behavior resources here.

Questions About Public Classes

San Diego Humane Society offers training classes and resources to address a variety of needs for companion animals.

Our training philosophy is based on the behavioral science concepts of positive reinforcement. Training your pet using these concepts will not only help them learn new behaviors more quickly, it will also strengthen the bond you share.

Our website includes a current schedule of training classes or call 619-279-5961. 

View Training Classes   Gift a Training Class


Resource Center Our Programs and Services Educational Resources


  • Was this article helpful?