Rescue dogs training

Adopting A Shelter DogDogs of all breeds, mixes, sizes and types are always available for adoption from shelters or rescues. The selection changes daily, unfortunately. The decision to adopt a “recycled” dog can be a positive one if careful choices are made and a commitment is made to train and socialize the new family member.

Decisions, Decisions

In order to make your shelter adoption a more informed and less of an emotional decision, certain requirements need to be listed before the trip to the shelter:

Size Considerations:

Large, medium, or small dog? Keep in mind size does not necessarily designate space required or energy level.

Coat Considerations:

Long, short, one that will require grooming/shaving? Keep in mind short-coated dogs such as Labs and Dalmatians shed JUST AS MUCH if not more than longer coated dogs such as Golden Retrievers or Shelties.

Which Breed:

Purebred? Mix? If a purebred is desired, make sure ALL breed traits are researched – EACH breed has good and bad traits, and those are variable depending on the person!

Activity Level:

Usually if the breed or mix is known, the level of activity will be able to be ascertained, as well.


Puppy or adult or senior? Most dogs find their way to shelters between the ages of 6 months and 1 year of age, because that is the worst behaved time of a dog’s life – their adolescence; they WILL misbehave more during that time period. Adult dogs can also come to you with excess baggage of behavior problems from their previous life, but usually they can be worked through. Seniors can sometimes have age-related health or behavior problems, but can be a wonderful laid-back companion.

Visiting The Dog Shelter

When looking for a dog, remember that WYSIWYG!! A shy, cowering dog will take just as much work as an overpowering, in-your-face dog. Dogs in rows of cages or kennel runs may still act like a pack; each one of them may be at their gate barking and clawing! Take each dog you are interested in off to a quieter area away from the masses to evaluate him behaviorally. Ask the shelter worker about the dog. Look into his eyes – I really believe in honest eyes; they can reveal a lot about the dog. A dog that is interested in play, especially fetching, is a very good candidate; you have the start of a good, positive bridge of understanding. Look for a dog that will come up to you – one that is interested in interacting with you. An aloof dog will most likely remain aloof. All family members should meet the adoptive prospect – even down to the smallest child. If the dog shows any fear or aggression to anyone, the adoption should NOT take place!

Bringing Your New Dog Home

Establish an area for the new dog that will keep him AND your house safe. The safest way to do this is with a crate (cage). Most shelter dogs spent their time in a cage or a run, so the transition to a crate at your home should run smoothly. A confined area such as a crate will greatly assist with potty training [see article] and give the dog a safe, comfortable place. Time in your house outside the crate should ALWAYS be supervised for several weeks to several months, depending on the dog. The only factor regarding supervision or lack of is your observation of the dog’s behavior; age, breed and size are not. Feeding times should be in the crate at first, as well as daily times in the crate even while you are around. Dogs quickly learn when they are crated only when nobody is at home, and some can develop separation anxiety. No matter how old the new dog is when you adopt him, he should ALWAYS be treated like a puppy and not trusted with ANYTHING until he earns it. You have worked too hard for your house and the stuff in it to have it destroyed by a rescue dog!

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