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2017

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So You’re Adopting? Now What?

Congratulations on choosing your new family member! We hope that you are able to enjoy having your dog for many years to come, and we’ve put together some suggestions to make your transition easier and successful.

Your new dog should be treated as if he were a brand new puppy, even though his size is that of an adult. Most rescue dogs have not been someone’s house pet and don’t have the training and social skills to be an “instant success” in a new home. Even though foster care givers spend time and do some training, the transition to yet another new environment is going to be stressful for a dog who’s already lost his home at least twice.

  • A crate is a must. She needs the security of her own room, and you need the peace of mind that she isn’t finding trouble, pottying in the house, chasing the cats, etc.

  • She should be fed in her crate-this is a great way to make the crate a “good place” and it takes the stress off of your other dogs, as well as your new rescue. Many of these dogs have come, in the past, from situations where food was not plentiful and feeding time could be very stressful for her, worrying about another dog taking her food.

  • For the first week or so, your new dog should be on a leash, even in the house, as you introduce him to your other pets and help him to learn your routine.

  • Your new dog should NEVER be left unsupervised in the house for the first week or even longer. It may take 3-6 months for him to be reliable when you leave the house. Leashed and with you, or in the crate are musts for his transition period.

  • House privileges are EARNED by behaving well. Housetraining, avoiding countersurfing, food stealing, and other unwanted behaviors happen only with good supervision, and the training you do at the outset to avoid problems will go a long way. Retraining once the problems occur is much more difficult. Get started right!

  • Outdoors, even in your fenced yard, your rescue dog should be on leash or a long line for the first week, each time he goes outside. Many of these dogs are escape artists and many do not know to come when they are called, so these outings are a perfect time to practice calling your dog, when he’s on a leash and has to come to you. Plenty of praise, petting and making coming to you a pleasant experience will go a long way to building that habit.

  • Teaching your new dog a “settle down” is a great way to let them know when to relax and hang out with the family in “quiet” mode. The “settle down” is a 10-30 minute down stay. With leash and collar on, and time blocked out that you do not intend to get up, for any reason, yourself, position the dog in a down. If he already knows the command, then just tell him. If he doesn’t, then physically position him. Put your foot on the snap of the leash, very close to his collar. If he attempts to get up, you just calmly, without talking to him or telling him to lie down again, put him back. This exercise does several things: 1) teaches him to relax on command for a long period of time, 2) teaches him to lie down on command, and 3) teaches him that you can and will enforce the command you gave.

    NO MATTER WHAT, you don’t let him up until your 10 minutes (minimum) are up. Exceptions can be made if the house is on fire. Very important: when the 10 minutes are up, you need to give him a clear release (“OK, we’re done”) and get up yourself, having him get up, too.


  • We strongly recommend enrolling in an obedience class. Classes give you the skills to train your dog, and an environment that is distracting, challenging and where your dog can learn to behave in public places, as well as at home.