2 Important Things to Think About Your Home Environment Before Getting a Dog
Step 4 of 15 in the Dogly New Pet Channel
with Ruby Leslie of WelfareForAnimals, Training Advocate

Whether you're adopting or fostering, or adding a young puppy, adult dog, or older dog into your family life, every dog is an individual and every new dog will respond to your home environment differently.

Some dogs will waltz right in your house and be unfazed by nearly anything. Other dogs may react in various degrees to any number of unfamiliar or seemingly threatening things in your home that you don't even notice anymore in your daily lifestyle.

You want your new - even if temporary as a foster dog - family member to be happy and thrive in this all-new environment, so anticipating and knowing what to expect helps set everyone up (including your whole family... family members, both human & dog) for a successful transition and life together before you bring your new pup home.

(Some dog owners wonder about dog breeds and how the dog breed of their new pet relates to potential fearfulness. It's good to keep in mind that one new puppy from a litter of purebred dogs might be shy or fearful while another puppy from the same litter is not. As we always say, every pet is an individual - not unlike human children! And that's the beauty of getting to know your pets inside out.)

What to consider in getting yourself & your house prepared before you bring a new dog home...


Step 1: Know your new dog (as much as possible).

Ask your rescue or animal shelter to fill you in on everything they know about your dog's personality, likes/dislikes, health issues, anything they've noticed about how he or she reacts to people, other dogs (& cats), and the environment. A shelter environment has its own sights, sounds, smells, different from a private home, but anything you can learn about things that tend to make your dog comfortable or uncomfortable in any previous situations is good input to have.

Rescues typically do a good job already sharing as much as possible about each dog's personality and background in trying to make the best matches for their dogs to thrive in their new homes forever or foster homes. Be sure to ask any questions relating to your new dog and how you can make your specific environment supportive (sizing up your environment is ahead in Step 2). Everyone wants the smoothest, most stress-free transition and launch for your dog's new life!

Dogs do react differently in different situations, but any knowledge about your dog can help you anticipate and prepare, even though you'll still have surprises. A dog who might be shy or nervous in a shelter can turn out to be the most carefree, secure pup in the world once he or she steps into your home - and that's what we're going for by being prepared!


Step 2. Know your home environment.

Of course, you already know your own home surroundings. But the trick is to take a good look (& listen, smell) through a dog's eyes and senses. The objective is to have a fresh awareness of what you take for granted every day by instead taking it all in as your new dog might.

Try this

Most "problem" reactions come from fear, which doesn't have to be logical or caused by something truly dangerous (although of course, it can be). A fearful dog can feel worried, afraid, anxious, or threatened by a window shade flapping, a slippery tile floor, or the sight of a child on a bicycle. It's all legit, and it's our job as their humans to make it okay however we can.

To start, before the actual arrival, let's take inventory of your new dog's soon-to-be home from a potentially fearful dog's perspective on sounds, textures, and general environment:

Why dogs may be fearful in a new home...


Take note of the kinds of noises that surround your home life, inside and outside. What will your dog hear on certain days? (Garbage days are notorious for trucks and people moving cans out and back, for example.)

What happens daily/maybe at a certain time? What happens occasionally, and is it predictable or not?

  • Noisy traffic - garbage trucks, cars, trains, buses, the metro, scooters, bicycles, horns
  • Construction in your area
  • Neighborhood families playing loudly, neighbor dogs barking
  • Storms or wind blowing
  • Curtains moving
  • Doors & gates opening and closing
  • Daily household noises like vacuum, dishwasher, washing machine

Textures (unfamiliar floor & ground surfaces):

What will your dog experience on a walk or in your back yard? Think through what your dog's life will be like in terms of unfamiliar surfaces that could be a question mark... or no big deal.


Here are some surfaces to consider and take note of depending on your individual dog who may be a little unsure and just need your reassurance and some positive reinforcement (with comforting dog treats!):

  • Grass, gravel, sand, dirt, rocks, mud, puddles, snow
  • Hardwood floors, tile, or carpet if never experienced (Sometimes something as simple as a dog's nails being too long can make hardwood or tile slippery and unpleasant to navigate. It's worth keeping an eye on smaller details masquerading as a bigger problem!)
  • Mats or rugs especially near doors
  • Different levels in flooring, steps & stairs
  • Uneven concrete or tree roots on sidewalks

General environment:

What kind of home do you live in - a condo, separate house, apartment, duplex? Has your dog ever experienced a home environment before? What will your dog encounter inside your home?

Try this

Take a walk through your home with your dog senses on, and ask yourself a few questions. Is your home a suitable environment for the dog you're planning to bring home? And what can you do to manage exposure to nervous-making things or support your new dog through getting comfortable with them?

Narrow entrances like doorways can be spooky and scary. Elevators which are small enclosed spaces with people walking directly towards them can be incredibly frightening. Scents of other animals (whether your own current resident dogs/cats or those you encounter in an apartment building) can either be intriguing or make a dog feel wary.

A few of the usual suspects for potentially fearful dogs:

  • Doorways, especially scary if they are narrow entrances
  • Reflective surfaces or screen doors
  • Dogs barking from other houses, back yards, or from behind fences
  • Movement & noises from nearby homes
  • Scents of other dogs, cats, and wild animals
  • Scents of other people
  • Seeing new people in or around your home, even just walking by

Being aware in advance of how your new dog and your home environment might mix can go a long way to helping your new dog have a smoother arrival, and happier first days and beyond.

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Next up in the New Pet Channel on Dogly

Now that you know how to prepare your home environment before getting a dog, continue on to the next guide to learn how to help your new dog settle into your home.

If you have any questions about acclimating your new dog as a happy member of your family, just ask in the community discussion in the New Pet Channel.

Or if you ever need more personalized dog training guidance, please reach out!

Ruby Leslie of WelfareForAnimals

Training Advocate
Dogly loves Ruby because she brings her rescue experiences to our dogs - to increase our bond, decrease behavior issues.

Ruby guides you

New Dogs - Manners - Enrichment - Reactivity - Barking - Walking

Ruby is certified

Low Stress Handling - Fear Free Veterinary Professional - Fear Free Shelters - Shelter Welfare - Enrichment - & Canine Behaviour