Bringing home a shelter dog


Bringing home a shelter dog can be great for you and the dog, but it can be a challenge, too. Many times you don’t know much about the dog’s history or background. You don’t know if he has behavior problems. You may not know the real reason why he was turned in to the shelter.


When you bring your shelter dog home you should give him time to settle in. Things will be new to him and probably not what he’s used to. He may have been in the shelter for a short time or a long time — you may not know. Life in a kennel run is very different than living in your home so he may be rusty on any housetraining at first. Help remind him about housetraining by taking him outside frequently. If he has already been housetrained this should help put him back on track. If he hasn’t been housetrained yet you will need to work on that from the start.


Your shelter dog may be happy and start adjusting to you and your family right away — or not. Some shelter dogs can take a little time to adjust to their new life. Your dog may be shy at first and seem very quiet. That’s okay. Give him some time to observe things and slowly fit into the family. This period may last for a few days. As long as he is eating and drinking, even a little, keep giving him the time he needs.


Your shelter dog may also react by being a little clingy. Some shelter dogs may latch on to you and see you as a savior. If you spend time petting your dog and taking care of him, this kind of dog will probably be devoted to you forever. In fact, he may have problems with separation anxiety later so, when possible, you should encourage him to interact with other family members and take him for walks outside. Let him see other things and meet friendly strangers. This will help discourage the tendency to focus completely on you which, as flattering as it may be, is not good for your dog.


Regardless of how your new shelter dog acts in the beginning he will begin to relax a little and you will be able to get a better idea of his real personality. You can start finding out if he’s outgoing and friendly, if he’s always shy, if he’s active or neurotic. Some dogs end up in animal shelters through no fault of their own. Their owners may not be able to keep them when they move or the dog may not get along with the cat. Other dogs, however, may have some behavior problems then lead to them being in the shelter. You will probably find out if your dog has any of these behavior problems after a few days.


These problems can include house soiling, excessive barking, jumping on people, nipping — the usual behavior problems. If your dog is an adolescent dog he may be particularly prone to exhibiting these problems. There are solutions to all of these problems but they will take work on our part.



Getting a dog from a shelter can be a great thing to do. As exciting as it always is to get a new dog you should take your time and try to choose a dog that will fit you and your lifestyle. Try to find out as much as you can about the dogs from the shelter staff. Admittedly, this isn’t always easy because the staff is eager to get the dogs into new homes. They aren’t always forthcoming about a dog’s issues. Good shelters will try to help you choose the right dog because they don’t want you to have to return the dog.


Take your time with your new dog and get to know each other. You may have discovered a diamond in the ruff.

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