Owning a dog is so challenging that bringing a dog home seems easy. But it’s about a lot more than just buying food. Toysand a leash. Here’s what you need to know to make your dog’s return home as happy as possible.

Illustration for article titled Everything You Should Know Before Bringing a Dog Home for the First Time

Dogs need time and space to adapt to new environments. Your very first job is to provide a safe, cozy place for your new buddy. The Oregon Humane Society (OHS) recommends making an entire room available to your pup as they adapt. If you can’t swing this, a covered box or pen in a quiet corner will work too. Keep other pets and children out of the dog area and remove or secure any items that might even seem easy to eat to a stressed dog – cat litter, power cords, houseplants, children’s toys, shoes, clothing, and food of all kinds.

On the drive home, things become real. Some dogs love driving in cars, but it really stresses others out. According to Petfinder’s Guide to First 30 Days of Dog Adoption and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) guidelines for traveling with petsPutting your dog in a crate in your car is the best way to keep him safe on the drive home. ((A little bit dog proof Can’t hurt either.) When they feel safe, the stress for everyone involved is minimized. Do not make any further stops or leave the dog alone in the car. Drive straight home.

Illustration for article titled Everything You Should Know Before Bringing a Dog Home for the First Time

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Once you make it home it’s time to show your dog the new digs – literally show them off. Petfinder, HSUS, and OHS all make it clear that the first stop after leaving the car should be where you want your dog to pee. Before entering, take your dog to this spot, let them do their business, and reward them with treats and praise for doing so. Once inside, lead them to their dining area, then to their room or box area so that they have time to really familiarize themselves with each area before moving on.

With these tips and a little luck, you and your dog should emerge from the first 24 hours of dog ownership with nerves intact. Take a deep breath and get ready – the real work has only just begun.

This story was originally published in September 2016. It was updated on March 9, 2021 to include new information and to reflect Lifehacker’s current style guidelines.