Adopting a dog- Preparing


There are so many good things about owning a dog: companionship,
protection and unconditional love. Dogs are also good for our health, with research indicating that people who own dogs have lower blood pressure and lower levels of stress hormones in their blood. But, owning a dog is also a tremendous responsibility.
If you’re considering sharing your life with a dog, it’s important that you stop and think before you leap into this commitment. A dog should never be an impulse choice, even though it’s hard to resist those soft brown eyes and wet nose, you are adding a living being to your family, a family member that relies on you for their every need. Th e average lifespan for a dog is 12 years, and you will need to meet your dog’s every physical, mental and emotional need for his entire life.

Use the month before adoption to consider what you can comfortably off er a dog that joins your life.

A Month Before:

*Should You Get a Rescue Dog?
*Adopting a Rescue Dog
Please figure out what kind of lifestyle commitments you can make will help you decide whether a dog is right for you at this time of your life, and will help you make better decisions on what type of dogs make sense for your family.

Time Commitment

The first step in deciding whether or not you can care for a dog is to review your time commitments. Do you have very young children, elderly parents, a needy boss, or some combination therein that take up your every living moment? If so, perhaps it would be better to wait until you have a little more time that you can devote
to caring for a dog before you take on the extra responsibility. You need a minimum of an hour a day to provide basic care for a dog. Th at’s an hour every day, not just on weekends! And remember that figure is a minimum, some dogs will require much
more time!!


.... there is truth in the old phrase, a tired dog is a good dog. A dog with too much energy and not enough to do will find things to do and these will typically not be things that you want them to do. A medium energy dog will need at least a half hour
brisk walk once a day. Higher energy dogs will need longer and more frequent exercise to stay happy.

Training -

One of the most common reasons for dogs being euthanized is a “behavior problem”. Most behavior problems can be prevented by appropriate socialization and training, under the guidance of a trainer. Th is takes a heavy investment of time, particularly if you own a puppy. You cannot let your dog raise himself, be proactive and teach him how you’d like him to behave, and he’s much less likely to develop behavior problems
that are difficult to resolve. Training also helps you establish leadership with your dog and gives your dog the mental exercise that they need to thrive. Plan on training a puppy for at least half an hour each day, once you have established the basics you can reduce the amount of time spent training or move on to more advanced exercises.


The beautiful coat on many long hair dogs requires extensive and regular grooming to avoid knotting and to keep clean. As well as frequent visits to the groomer, you will need to establish a daily routine of brushing your dog’s coat to keep it shiny and tangle free. In some breeds this can take a full hour every day.


Dogs are social creatures and need interaction to thrive. For most dogs a few moments throughout the day where you share a pat and a few kind words, plus a few longer sessions where you give the dog some serious attention, and a few hours spent just laying at your feet are crucial to create a deep bond with your dog. Be prepared to spend a lot more time with the dog in the first few weeks as you establish a relationship.

Lifestyle Commitment

If it looks like time is not going to be a problem, think about whether a dog complements your current lifestyle. Think about what you are willing to compromise and what changes would not work with your lifestyle.


Is your home one that can accommodate a dog? You will need to understand your neighborhood’s rules regarding the type of dogs you are permitted to keep. If you rent, look through your rental agreement, many leases specifi cally forbid pets and having to keep your dog hidden away is no fun and can be stressful. If the dog is going to spend time outside, you are also going to want to make sure you have a yard that is securely fenced.


Do you have any family members who suff er from allergies? A dog may make them itch, sneeze or worse! Consult with your Doctor to find out if you can comfortably have any breed of dog, and to get some recommendation on the types of dog that are least likely to trigger your allergies.


Dogs need to be exercised, and fed every day. That means you need to think about whether your family’s routine is conducive to having a dog. Can someone get home every day in time to feed and exercise the dog?


All dogs need exercise, some more so than others. Are you a marathon runner or a channel surfer? Th ink about what kind of activity level makes sense for your family. Many people get a dog hoping that they will become more active. While this is a good aspiration, it is generally more advisable to become more active before getting the dog! Keep in mind that your lifestyle may change over the years. You may move to a different home, a different city, province or country might make it difficult for you to have a dog. You may have a family. Every dog deserves a forever home, so plan
ahead for such changes, so you can be sure that you are able to keep your dog no matter what happens.

Cost of Owning a Dog

Rescuing a dog from a shelter is a wonderful thing to do for you, your family and the dog. But, one big misconception is that adopting a shelter dog is cheap. Most shelters charge a modest fee for adoption. This fee covers only a small percentage of their costs for food, healthcare, facilities, rehabilitation, and care giving. Adoption fees also help shelters find new owners that are more responsible and prepared for the commitment of adopting a dog. The dogs that are in animal shelters have been examined to make sure they’re in good health before being made available for adoption. The dogs are vaccinated, wormed and often spayed or neutered. In many cases, their temperament has been assessed so that staff can make sure they’re a good fit for a prospective new owner. I dont know of any breeder in the country
that does all that! All that is routine and for a fraction of the price you would expect to pay a reputable breeder. But, the cost of adoption is only a small fraction of the total cost of dog ownership.

Aproximate Costs to own a dog per year:

Food and Treats ($350) – you will want to feed your dog a good quality dog food in a quantity appropriate for their size and activity level. Costs are of course lower for smaller dogs and higher for larger dogs. In addition you will want to supplement their food with bones, rawhide, and the occasional treat.

Travel and Boarding ($300) – when you vacation you are either going to want to take your dog with you or have someone take care of them for you. If you don’t have the luxury of having a trusted friend or family member nearby that will take care of your
dog, a good boarding facility will be a godsend. But, costs add up quickly with daily rates running from $ 15 - 30 per night.

Medications ($130) – most dogs are on medication to protect them against internal and external parasites like worms and fleas. Most of these products are usually dosed according to your dog’s bodyweight and will be more expensive for bigger dogs

Routine Veterinary ($125) – a yearly checkup along with vaccinations are important preventative care measures to ensure your dog stays healthy and to catch small problems before they become big.

Non-routine Veterinary ($500) – the biggest surprise in these statistics for most dog owners is the cost of non-routine procedures. When illness or accidents strike the costs can add up very quickly. A few x-rays and treatment for a broken leg or your dog
swallowing an object can quickly surpass $1,000. You won’t get these costs every year but when these costs strike they can be very sizeable. Non-routine veterinary costs tend to be higher for older dogs. A good dog health insurance policy will help you absorb some of those expenses, but all policies have caps and deductibles so you still need an emergency fund for health care.

Grooming ($80) – costs associated with caring for your dog’s coat vary significantly by breed. Some short hair dogs need nothing more than an occasional brushing, while some long hair breeds need a standing appointment with the groomer.

Non Consumables ($370) – your dog needs a few basics like a leash, collar, crate, bed, and two bowls. But, are you going to be one of those dog owners that needs to splurge on their dog. Th isis defi nitely one place where dog owners could save. An old comforter is just as good as a $200 memory foam mattress from the dog’s perspective. But, if your reality is going to be that buying your dog a new winter coat every season brings you happiness, then budget it in.

Training ($25-200) – this is one place where we think most new dog owners would be a lot happier if they spent a little more time and money. Especially if you are a fi rst time dog owner, having someone with a bit more experience help you work through the trouble spots will make life together a whole lot more fun.

Rescue Dog Considerations

Finally think about whether you want a rescue dog. Taking a dog from an animal shelter saves a life. Adopting a dog that is a little older and trained will be easier to transition to your home than a new puppy. But, there are some disadvantages that you should be aware of:

First, adopted dogs can come with behavioral problems. A good shelter (like All Heart) will do their best to identify dogs with problems, but sometimes they will only be apparent when you bring the dog home. For example, a somewhat common problem among abused dogs is a fear of men. Working with your dog to overcome these problems is rewarding, but very challenging.

Second, some dogs will have physical problems. Again the shelter will identify most problems, but often they will be latent and you will only discover them when you take the dog home or even several years later when the condition becomes visible.
Finally, expect the unexpected. A purebred puppy from a reputable breeder will show variation but will tend to have a body and temperament that are true to type. Shelter dogs have a lot more variation. As a dog behaviourist , I have observed that shelter puppies like nothing more than to mock the predictions of both owners and trainers Th at little puppy that everyone thought was going to be 30 pounds will be 50. Even grown dogs will surprise you, acting in a very diff erent way once they get settled in at home
than they did in the shelter. Th at shy little lab mix can come out of her shell and become a fiercely protective dog once she establishes her own territory. So take these few weeks before you make the decision to adopt to think through whether a dog fi ts with your situation. If you have room in your life for a dog, do consider adopting a dog from a shelter. You’ll have a loyal companion for life, and you will feel good, knowing you may have saved his life.

One place to avoid getting a dog is at a pet store. Some pet stores obtain their pups from puppy mills, where dogs are basically farmed, to obtain pups for sale. In many cases, the dogs are kept in poor conditions and don’t receive adequate veterinary care. Dogs are also often bred with less care to avoid genetic abnormalities that may
manifest later in life such as hip dysplasia, a painful condition that occurs in larger dog breeds.

When you have reached the decision that yes, you are going to adopt a dog, you need to think about what type of dog would be best for your family. By taking time to work out a list of preferences, you’ll reduce the risk of choosing the wrong dog for you.
If you adopt a dog that isn’t a good fi t for your lifestyle, both you and your dog will be miserable. Th e factor to consider is age. Many people adopt a puppy, and enjoy the challenge of raising him to be a well behaved, well adjusted adult. They need more frequent meals than an adult dog, they need to be toilet trained and they also need to learn basic obedience commands. This does take time and patience, and if your day is already full, a puppy may not be for you. You may be better off adopting an adult. Although you don’t know what sort of training they have had, they are usually not as high maintenance as a pup. Don’t think that there’s no work involved with an adult dog; he will still have to learn to fit in

Two Weeks Before:

With your family’s lifestyle, and dont forget your new pet will still need feeding, grooming and exercise.
There are often many “golden oldies” available for adoption. These are dogs who are elderly, and would just love someone to care for them in their senior years. Th ey can still off er affection and companionship, but they may only be with you for a short while. Don’t forget that older dogs may have more medical expenses, for example pain relief for arthritis, so if you do adopt one of these old souls, make sure you can aff ord to keep them comfortable. Can’t stress this enough - listen to your “gut”,
your “inner voice”, whatever you want to call it. Don’t let the cute doggy face over-ride that “uhoh” feeling when adopting. You should feel very comfortable and confi dent in working with the people at the shelter. Don’t be upset or annoyed with a shelter that spends a lot of time working with you before the adoption. Also, a good shelter
should have a “return” policy. If there comes a time when you can no longer care for your dog, they should be willing to take the dog back. This is not the case with some, if not all, pounds. So you must be very sure about adopting the right dog for you if you adopt from one.

Here are some other factors to consider when you’re choosing the type of dog you’d like to adopt.

How much yard space do you have? If you live in an apartment, it makes sense to choose a smaller breed. Certainly large breeds may be happy in a smaller home, particularly if they get the exercise they need, but they will take up a lot of space. It can be hard to maneuver around a Great Dane all the time if you live in a one
bedroom apartment!

How much can you afford to spend on a dog? As i've mentioned, large dogs cost more than small dogs. They eat more, and they cost more in worming tablets and flea control products. They’re also more expensive to neuter. Choose a dog that you
know you can afford to take care of, for the rest of his life. Do you have children, and how old are they? Children can love a dog to death, and can often hurt them by poking eyes and pulling tails. Most breeds will get on well with children, particularly if
they’ve been raised with them from puppyhood. However, some breeds are more protective, and others like to herd and will chase running children. Although these dogs can live happily enough with children, it takes extra commitment and training on your
part. You may be better off with a more relaxed dog while your children are young. While we’re on the subject of children and dogs, don’t ever leave a child unsupervised with a dog, and don’t let your child tease or torment an animal. It can lead to tragedy.
How much time do you want to spend grooming your dog? A busy household is much better off with a dog with a short, low maintenance coat. However, there’s no reason not to choose a dog that has a longer coat, providing you’re prepared to invest the time and money into looking after it. A long coat that isn’t cared for can become matted and knotted, and this can be painful. Short coated dogs are also easier to check for ticks and fl eas, quicker to brush, and dry faster after a bath. Are you an active person? Some dogs are real couch potatoes, and only need a short walk every day. Other dogs will run for 10 miles with you, then want to play ball. Be realistic about how much time you have to exercise a dog, and choose an appropriate breed. A high energy dog that doesn’t have the opportunity to burn off that energy will be bored, and that’s when you’ll have problems with him digging, barking and even escaping from your yard.

What about temperament and intelligence? Smart dogs, such as those in the herding group, need more than just physical exercise. They also need something to do with their minds, or they can develop behavior problems. Don’t take on one of these breeds
unless you can commit to training him, and perhaps participating in a dog sport such as agility. He will be very unhappy, and so will you. A mixed breed which is part herding dog is likely to be just as high maintenance as a purebred. Pure breed or crossbreed? Either will make a great pet. The advantage of adopting a purebred dog is that you’ll have a better idea of his temperament, trainability and size as an adult. If you’re considering a crossbreed, try and work out what breeds may be in his family tree. Th at may help give you an idea of what he will grow into, but you may still get a surprise when he grows up. Male or a female dog? If you’re adopting a shelter dog, he will probably already be neutered, so it doesn’t really matter what sex you choose. Both male and female dogs make great companions. Just as you didn’t rush into the decision to adopt a dog, don’t hurry through these questions. Take your time, there really is no rush. Th e right dog is out there for you, and by thinking seriously about what you want in a dog, you’ve got a much greater chance of finding him.

ONE WEEK BEFORE - Preparing your home

If you have never owned a dog before, or it has been some time since you had a dog in your life, you may need to make some modifi cations to your home and yard to keep your new pet safe. You may also need to buy a few items so you have everything your new family member needs, before he arrives.

Modifying Your Home

Dogs are great company, and it’s lovely to have them relaxing in your home with you. But, it can be stressful in those early days and weeks until your new dog becomes familiar with his new environment and learns the ropes. Until then you want to be especially careful to make the house as safe as possible for your dog. The process is very similar to childproofing your home. You want to carefully examine your home for potential hazards for your dog. To make things easier for both of you, here are some guidelines you may wish to follow:

Window Coverings. Look at your window coverings, and take stock of any potential hazards. Long cords may be a strangulation risk, and I know from personal experience that dogs can get tangled in vertical blinds. Th ose ornate tassels that look so good
on your curtains are just asking to be played with! Furniture. If your dog is going to be welcome on the furniture, you may want to use a throw or slipcover to protect the fabric. Make sure the throw is made of a washable fabric so it’s easy to launder. Long toenails can scratch leather or vinyl furniture, so keep your dog’s nails well manicured. On the other hand, if your dog won’t be allowed on the couch with you, give him a soft bed that he can call his own. It too should be machine washable. Floor Coverings. Give some thought to purchasing some inexpensive rugs for the f oor until your new dog is toilet trained. They may not match your decor, but they can protect your carpet from
soiling. You can throw the rugs away when you don’t need them. Children. If you have young children, keep their toys well out of reach of your dog. Small toys can cause intestinal obstructions if they are swallowed. I have known many teddy bears that have lost an eye when left within reach of an enthusiastic dog. Start reminding your children that they need to be tidy, for the sake of the dog and their toys.


Make sure any household chemicals such as cleaning products, fertilizers, and mouse baits are well out of reach. Some dogs like to chew, and if they decide to chew on these, they may become very sick. Also beware that some foods such as chocolate can be dangerous to dogs, so you want to remove all those candy bowls you have around the house. Your dog and your waist line will thank you.

Preparing Your Yard

Even indoor dogs enjoy a romp in the yard, and the most important thing to check is that your fence is secure. Th e fence should be high enough so that your new dog won’t be able to jump over it. Make sure that you also walk around the fence and repair any spots where a dog may dig underneath and escape. It’s a good idea to put some chicken wire around the bottom of your fence, and bury the edge inwards. This can help prevent any attempts at escape. If possible also secure the front yard, some dogs have a tendency to bolt whenever that front door is opened. Gather Your Supplies There are some things your dog can’t do without, and it’s important that you plan ahead and have these ready for him when he comes home.


Here are the essentials you should purchase for your new dog.

Leash. A six foot leash is a good size. It should be soft and flexible, and comfortable in your hand. Make sure the clip is secure and easy for you to open and close. Don’t get me started on flexileashes, if you don’t understand why it is a bad idea you may want
to think about adopting a gold fish.

Collar and ID Tag. You won’t be able to purchase a collar and tag for your dog until you have chosen your new pet. However, do plan on buying both before you pick him up from the shelter.

Bowls for Food and Water. Metal bowls and plastic bowls are the most popular, and are very durable. Ceramic bowls are available in many designs and are often more attractive. The drawbacks are that they are usually more expensive, and they break easily.

Bed. There are so many options when it comes to choosing a bed for your dog. If your dog lives indoors, you may prefer a soft comfortable beanbag or a fl uff y cushion for his bed. Outdoor beds need to be more weatherproof, so they may not be as luxurious. A metal frame bed with vinyl will last better in sunshine and
rain, and still keep your dog off the hard ground.

Crate. Crate training is a great way to create a secure spot for your dogs and ease them into home life. Th eir crate will become the dog’s den, a place where he can have a break from the hustle and bustle of a busy household. It’s also very helpful in toilet
training him. When you choose a crate, make sure it’s not too heavy, so you can easily move it to clean underneath. Also, the tray in the bottom should be removable for the same reason. It should be large enough so your dog can comfortably stand up,
turn around and lie down. Put a soft bed in the crate so your dog is comfortable.

Brush and shampoo. How much grooming your dog will need depends on the length of his coat. Even the shortest coat will look better after being brushed. At the very least, buy a brush that will remove any loose or dead hair. If your dog has a longer coat, you may need a coat stripper as well. Choose a shampoo that is mild and soap free, so it doesn’t strip the oils from your dog’s coat.

Food. You may have a preferred food you’d like to feed your dog, but make sure you also have the same food that he is being fed in the shelter. Initially, feed him just the shelter food and each day, reduce the amount of shelter food in his bowl and increase the amount of the new food. It should take a week or so to completely change his diet. Th is will help prevent diarrhea associated with suddenly feeding him a different food.

Toys. Whether it be balls or squeaky animals, dogs love to play with toys. Choose a variety, because until you have him home, you won’t know his preferences. Make sure the toys you choose are strong enough to resist being played with; your choice will depend on the size and strength of your new dog. Also take a look at some puzzle-type toys that will mentally engage your dog. A toy that will exercise his brain is a great distraction if you need to leave the dog alone at home unsupervised for extended periods of time.

Health Care
If you don’t already take your pets to a veterinary clinic, spend some time choosing a veterinarian for your dog. Ask for referrals from friends and neighbors, and make arrangements to go and meet the staff . Remember, this is the person you are trusting with the care of your best friend, and you have to be totally comfortable with your choice. Make an appointment for your new dog to visit your veterinarian within a week of him coming home. She will make sure that your dog is in good health, and discuss any needed vaccinations, flea medications or worm treatment. Take this opportunity to ask any questions you may have about dog care. Learn the route to your vet and the nearest 24 hour emergency clinic. Program both numbers and addresses into your cell phone, and your GPS. If you are ever unfortunate enough to have an emergency you will be glad that all that information is available at your fingertips. Make sure all family member have this information.

Dogs learn best by repetition and consistency. They need to know their boundaries, it makes them feel secure. Sit down with your family before you bring your dog home, and lay out the ground rules. You must agree on whether any parts of the house are out of bounds, if your dog is allowed on the furniture, and if he can be given food scraps from the table. If he’s not allowed on the couch, but Mom sneaks him up when nobody is looking, he will end up feeling confused. Work out who is responsible for feeding, bathing and exercising your new dog. Find out where and when the local obedience classes are, so you can start training your new dog as soon as he has settled in. You’re much more likely to enjoy your dog if he’s well mannered, and regular training is the best way to achieve this. It will be a busy and exciting time when your new dog comes home for the first time. If you are well prepared, you can fully
enjoy his arrival, knowing he will have everything he needs to be healthy and happy.

It’s time!

After the hard work of considering whether or not you can care for a dog, and preparing for his arrival, it’s now time to go to the shelter to choose your new dog.
Before you go, remind yourself of the decisions you’ve made regarding your new dog’s breed, size and grooming needs. Animal shelters are full of dogs with soft brown eyes and wagging tails who would absolutely love to come home with you. It’s important
to avoid being swayed by emotion when you see them. Remember, the lifespan of the average dog is 12 years. That’s a long time to live with a dog that just doesn’t fit your family, and the last thing you want to do is to take him back to the shelter where he came from. Go to the shelter when you’re not in a hurry, so you can take as long as you need to fi nd your new family member. If possible,

Adoption Day:

Selecting Your Dog
Take your family with you. If you’re not very experienced with dogs, you may want to take a friend who is more knowledgeable, so they can offer advice. Your fi rst port of call on arriving at the shelter is to meet the staff . Chat with them about your lifestyle, and what you’re looking for in a dog. Th e staff at good shelters will be pleased you’ve taken the time to do this homework, and will gladly help you choose the right dog for you. After all, they don’t want to see dogs returned to them because they didn’t fi t in with their adoptive family.

Meeting the Dogs

Walk around the shelter with the staff member, and watch how the dogs react to you. Take note of the ones that meet your criteria. Don’t consider any dog that shows signs of aggression; these dogs need a handler with experience in dog behavior and training. Similarly, very timid dogs take a lot of work, and should only be adopted by knowledgeable people with lots of time to invest in them. Ideally, look for a dog that readily approaches you and appears friendly and outgoing. Ask the staff member for their opinion on which dogs may suit your family. They have been caring for these dogs, and will have an understanding of their personality. They can give you insights
that may aff ect your choices. Check back through your list of desired criteria and eliminate any dogs from consideration that do not meet these criteria, now is not the time to decide that you have different needs! Narrow down your selection to two or three dogs that seem like they’d be a good match for you. Spend some time individually with each shortlisted dog, and see how you relate to each other. Ask the dog to sit, to see if he knows any basic obedience commands. If possible take the dog
out of the shelter for a walk. The shelter is a very unnatural environment with all the excitement created by all those other dogs in close conditions. Once outside the shelter pet the dog and see how he responds to your touch. Get the dog excited with a ball or
another dog and see how quickly he clams down once the stimulus is removed. And see how well he gets on with other members of your family. You aren’t going to be able to tell a huge amount from these interactions, they are very artifi cial and will not perfectly represent how the dog will behave once they get settled at home, but they may give you some clue of future behavior. One key piece of advice: for those owners who already have a dog at home, bring that dog to the shelter with you so you can see how he/she gets along with the prospective adoptee on neutral territory; don’t simply pick out a dog and bring it home to the existing pet’s “turf.”

After you have decided on a dog, things will move along smoother. The hard work has been done, and you’re now the proud owner of a dog who is a great match for your family and lifestyle. Th ere will be a fee associated with his adoption; this is to help
cover his feeding and medical care while he was in the shelter. You should receive a pile of paperwork: vaccination records, neutering certificate if he has not been neutered, adoption agreement, and microchip records. If you’re not clear about any of the paperwork, ask the shelter staff to explain it to you. After this has been done, it’s time to take him home! Many people who adopt a dog from a shelter make their decision based on emotion and cuteness, rather than on research and forethought.
your time and you’ll end up owning the very best dog for you.


When you bring your new dog home from the shelter, it’s a day for celebration. However, look at things from your dog’s point of view. He has left a busy, noisy environment and is traveling in a car with people he doesn’t know to a place he doesn’t know. It’s no surprise that he may be a little scared and anxious. Plan to bring him home on a weekend, or at a time when you can spend a day or two with him. Don’t bring him home then go off to work the next day. He’ll need you there to make him feel secure in those fi rst few days. It’s also not a good idea to have too many people there to welcome him. It may be quite overwhelming, so ask your friends and neighbors to give him a few days to settle in before they come visiting. Before you actually take your dog inside your home, go for a long walk with him, to relieve some of his excitement and nervous energy. Th is will make his introduction to his home and family a little calmer.

Going Home:
Introducing Your Dog To Your Home
Your dog should be treated as a member of your family, so bring him inside to live with you. Don’t leave him outside without anyone to keep an eye on him. It will take a little while for him to realize this is his home, and until then, he may try to escape.
Don’t give him the opportunity to destroy things around the home. Make sure you tidy up and pick up anything that a dog may want to chew. Stay with him as he explores his home, and don’t leave him to wander unattended. Give him some time to get used to his new environment, and the people in it. You may fi nd that, until he relaxes with you, he may be a bit reserved. However, once he settles in, he’ll become much
more outgoing. He may actually go too far, just to test his boundaries. Th is is when you need to be fi rm, gentle and consistent, so he learns the rules of your household.
Give your new dog the opportunity to have some time out if he’s looking a little overwhelmed. Allow him to retreat to a place where he feels safe, and ask your family members to leave him alone. He might just need a little time to regroup, and he’ll be
back to play again very quickly. When you are introducing your dog to new people, make sure they have lots of delicious treats. Your dog’s fi rst impression of your family and friends should be positive. Allow the dog to make the fi rst approach, and give him a treat. Don’t try and pat him straight away, allow him to sniff you and explore you, all the while treating him generously.

Introducing Your New Dog to Your Old Dog

Dogs can be quite territorial, so you need to handle this introduction carefully. Your old dog may see your new dog as a threat, and feel the need to defend his home turf. Make sure you pick up any bones and toys from around your home and yard, to reduce the likelihood your existing dog will want to guard his things. Don’t be afraid of adopting a special needs pet; just make sure you have the extra money, patience
and time necessary to help him turn into a loved family member. If you don’t have those, do yourselves (and the dog) a favor, and choose a diff erent dog.

If your old dog is well socialized and has had some obedience training, there’s not likely to be a problem. However, follow these steps to make the introduction go as smoothly as possible: 1. Try to introduce the dogs on neutral territory. Go to a dog
park or a neighbor’s yard, so there is no territorial behavior to get in the way, however make sure it is fenced. If possible, allow them to initially sniff each other through a chain wire fence, to gauge their reaction to each other. Make sure you have a helper to manage one of the dogs, should there be a problem.

2. Have both dogs on a secure collar (not a choke collar or a prong collar) for the introduction. A Gentle Leader or other head halter is a better idea still; you’ll have much more head control than with a collar.

3. Relax. Dogs are very good at picking up on your mood, and if you’re nervous, they’ll think there is something to be nervous about. Th is can make them tense, and increases the risk of hostility when they meet.

4. Allow one dog at a time to walk over to the other, and let them approach the other dog in his own time. You can expect them to sniff each other’s bottom when they meet; try to avoid tangling their leashes so you still have control over their heads. If there is any hostility, tell the cranky dog to “Settle down” in a calm, fi rm voice.

5. Most dogs are quite happy to have a new friend, but some may want to squabble. If there is a fi ght, don’t pull the dogs apart by the leash. Th e leashes will probably get tangled up, and pulling them won’t have much eff ect, except perhaps to pull the dogs
closer! Each person should grab one dog by the hind legs and pull them apart. If there is going to be hostility, you may need professional help to teach your dogs to live in harmony.

6. When your dogs begin to relax around each other, let go of the leashes, but don’t take them off yet. Th at way you can still grab them if you need to. At this point, take them home, but keep the leashes on. You may fi nd that there are tensions that did not arise while at the neutral territory.

7. It’s important to feed your dogs separately, at least for the fi rst few weeks until you can ascertain that they’re not going to be protective of their food. Dogs are pack animals, and enjoy having a canine playmate. By carefully introducing them, both dogs will happily share your home with each other.

Introducing Your Dog to Your Children

Dogs and children make the best companions. In fact, your children may have played a large part in your decision to get a dog. Th ey can also help to take care of him, and this will encourage a close bond between them.

Education. Teach your children about how to safely interact with your dog. Show them how to stroke him gently. Teach them how to recognize when your dog is saying, “Leave me alone,” and make sure they don’t annoy him when he is in his crate, or den

Supervision. Never ever leave any child alone with a dog, no matter how much you trust them both. Th e best behaved dog is quite capable of snapping at your child if he is hurt, and most dog bites to children are infl icted by their own usually loving family pet.

Involvement. Children are quite capable of helping to take care of your dog. It gives them a sense of responsibility, and it relieves you of some of the workload. Make sure you give your child a chore that’s appropriate for their age and ability. For example, a
younger child is able to brush your dog, but it isn’t safe to allow them to take your dog for a walk.

Possible Problems
Even a housebroken dog can make mistakes, particularly when they’re stressed. Don’t get angry at your new dog if he has an accident, and certainly don’t punish him. Th is will only make him afraid of you, and this is no way to start your relationship. Take
him outdoors regularly, and praise him when he goes. It won’t take long for him to learn where he can go to the restroom. Shelter dogs may crave attention, and they may jump on you or nudge you for cuddles all the time. Don’t give in, or he will learn
that this is an acceptable way to behave. Ignore this behavior, and he will ultimately give up. Having said that, he does need attention so make sure you give him cuddles, but on your terms. If your dog is a little fearful or aggressive when he arrives at your
home, don’t molly coddle him to make it all okay. Th is is inadvertently rewarding this behavior, and you’ll be making him more likely to continue to be frightened or cranky. If this behavior persists, seek professional help. Don’t punish your dog if he misbehaves; he may not yet have learned what’s expected of him. Punishment now will also make your dog afraid of you, and is no way to build a close relationship
with him. You will need to build up a little more trust before you can use a correction as part of your training. Instead try and redirect negative behavior, showing the dog what they should be doing instead of focusing on what they should not be doing.
You must be committed to spending time to help your dog settle into your family life. You’re setting the stage for your future together, so teach him your rules, give him time to adjust, and you’ll have a best friend for life.

You and your new dog have survived your fi rst day together, and it’s now time for you both to go to bed. You can expect your dog to be a little unsettled during his fi rst night in his new home. Where should your dog sleep? It’s a good idea to allow him to
sleep in your bedroom, so you are close to him should he need you during the night. You can either make him a comfortable bed
in his crate, or tether him to the one spot in your room. Th at way
he’s not allowed to wander the house at night, which can lead to
toileting accidents or destruction of shoes and other belongings.
Don’t allow him to sleep in your bed in these early days, until he is
well aware of his position in the household pack.
As an alternative, you may wish to put his crate in another part
of the house, or confi ne him to a separate room such as the laundry.
Whatever you do, don’t leave him to his own devices in your
First Night:
Settling Down for Bed Time
48 Adopting a Rescue Dog
Feed your dog a few hours before it’s time to go to sleep, so he
doesn’t have an uncomfortably full stomach.
Just before bedtime, take him for a walk, or play ball with him so
he is quite tired. Th at way he’s more likely to sleep well, and will
be less concerned about being in a strange place.
Make sure he has been to the toilet so he’s comfortable at bed
Night Time Whimpers
It’s not uncommon for dogs to cry at night if they’re a bit afraid or
uncertain. Th is will stop as he becomes more comfortable in his
new environment. Also, if your dog is young, he may not have a
very big bladder, and he may need to go outside for the toilet.
If your dog is crying for attention, you can reach over and calm
him briefl y with a quick pat. However, don’t overdo it, or he will
keep on whimpering. If the noise continues, you can tell him to
“Be quiet” in a fi rm but gentle tone. You may have to ignore any
further crying, so he learns that whimpering doesn’t get him the
attention he wants.
Make sure you are consistent with your reaction to his whimpering.
Th ere’s no point in patting him when he cries one night, then
ignoring him the next. Th at will only confuse him, and he’ll take
longer to learn what you expect from him at night time.
Th e Next Morning
When you wake in the morning, take your dog straight outside to
his toilet area, and praise him when he goes to the toilet. Th is will
Chapter 6: First Night 49
help him learn where his toilet area is, and quickly teach him not
to go inside the home.
Having a new dog in your home isn’t a lot diff erent than having
a new baby. Th ey both can be noisy at night, and they both need
patience and understanding. It won’t take long before your dog is
settled and you can again enjoy an unbroken night’s sleep.
Our main issue with Enrique has been his absolute
fear of everything - he was so skittish when
we got him that he would not go in the living
room if the TV was on, and he’d jump every time
we’d turn a light on or off . We live in the city and
he used to be scared to death when a bus would
pass us. Basically, we’re just being patient with
him and trying to show him that he’s safe now.
He has overcome most of his fears.
Boston, Massachusetts
50 Adopting a Rescue Dog
Advice from Molly’s Dad
Adopting a dog is one of the most rewarding things you can
do if you are prepared for the commitment. After volunteering
at a local animal shelter and adopting a golden retriever
mix along the way, here is my advice:
Be honest with yourself. Adopting any animal is a commitment;
you will have a living organism depending on you to
survive. Beyond the staples of food, water and shelter your
pet needs love, attention and exercise. If you have commitments
or health issues that limit your ability to provide any of
the above, do you and your potential pooch a favor, buy a fi sh
Do some research. Diff erent breeds have diff erent temperaments
and tendencies. Figure out what breeds match what
you’re able to off er and start narrowing down which kind of
dog makes sense for you. Some breeds are high maintenance
and need tons of exercise. Others are fi ercely independent.
Bigger breeds can clear off your table with a couple wags of
the tail and knock over small children if excited. Many shelter
dogs may be mixed breeds, but research can at least give you
an idea of what to expect.
Mentally prepare yourself for the shelter experience. Shelters
provide a great community service for displaced animals, but
aren’t four star accommodations. While it depends on the
shelter, most will have a couple dogs per cage and a number of
cages in a concrete-walled room. Th is means it will be loud.
Chapter 6: First Night 51
While the staff and volunteers clean cages at regular intervals,
there can be poop or pee in the cages. Keep in mind most
dogs there have been abandoned or lost so they are all a little
confused and scared by the environment and their recent
experience. Th ey may be entirely diff erent outside of the cage.
Spending time alone with them may mean a world of diff erence.
Learn the layout and ask questions. At the shelter where I volunteered,
the staff fi lls out a card for each dog that indicates
the basics - when the dog arrived, sex, breed(s), whether they
like kids/other animals, and other information about demeanor
and temperament. While you won’t ever know the full
history of a dog, this can at least provide a solid background.
Ask anyone on staff what they know about a dog and follow
all rules to get to know your potential pet – don’t just open
the cage. Finally, learn what the dog needs before they can go
home with you, including shots at the shelter and the type of
food and environment that works best for them. Learn what
type of follow-up services the shelter off ers.
Be patient. Every adopted pet has a history you may never
know. Many dogs might be nervous about being abandoned
again, as ours is fi ve years after being adopted. Most issues
can be worked out with training and patience as long as the
other essentials noted above are in place. Like many things,
you get what you give. Th e more love and attention your pet
gets the happier you both will be.
52 Adopting a Rescue Dog
Boise, Idaho
Chapter 7
Dogs are creatures of habit, and are happiest when they have
a familiar schedule or routine to follow. Th is needn’t be cast in
stone, but in general, they should be fed and walked at a similar
time each day.
Th ere are two main areas in which you should establish routines
for your dog: feeding and toileting.

Frequency of meals: How often should you feed your dog? In the
early stages, you should feed him as often as the staff did in the
shelter. Th at may be once a day, or twice a day. By doing this,
you reduce the chance of diarrhea associated with a change in
feeding regimen.
Most people prefer to feed their dogs twice a day. Your dog may
already be on this schedule, or you may want to change from a
once daily meal to feeding him twice daily. If so, for the fi rst few
Day Two:
Feeding and Toileting Routines
54 Adopting a Rescue Dog
days divide his meal so that he gets most of his food at the usual
time, and only a small amount for his second meal. Over the
course of seven to ten days, gradually even out the amount he is
being fed so that eventually, he is having two meals a day.
Give your dog only ten minutes to fi nish his meal, and remove
any leftovers. If he doesn’t want it, he has been given too much.
Overfeeding him will lead to obesity and its associated health
problems: arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.
Similarly, don’t leave food out for your dog to have an all you can
eat doggie buff et. Th is too will lead to excessive weight gain.
Young puppies may need three meals a day, until they are three to
four months old.
What to feed your dog: Again, feed your dog the same food he was
given in the shelter, to avoid diarrhea. Gradually transition to
your preferred food over the course of seven to ten days, by increasing
the amount of his new food and reducing the amount of
his old food each day.
When it comes to dog food, you get what you pay for. Cheap
foods have a higher cereal content, whereas more expensive foods
have higher quality ingredients with more meat content. Th e
more pricey foods are also highly digestible so you need to feed
them less, and they produce less feces. You don’t need to buy the
most expensive food, a kibble that is middle of the range is fi ne.
You may have to experiment a bit to fi nd one you like.
After meals, let your dog rest for an hour or so. Don’t run around
with him, or take him for a walk. Dogs, particularly those with
a deep chest, are at risk of bloat if they exercise too soon after a
Chapter 7: Day Two 55
meal, and this can be life threatening.
How much to feed your dog: Th e feeding guide on the bag of dog
food is a good starting point when it comes to working out how
much to feed your dog. However, it is only a guide. Watch your
dog, and adjust how much you feed him based on his body condition.
You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs as you run your hands
over his body. Also, his abdomen should be tucked up. If he’s a
bit curvaceous, cut back on the amount you are feeding him.
I noticed very quickly that JoJo was afraid of
children and skateboarders. I fi nally accepted his
fears like mine of snakes and focused on safety.
We work basic commands every day: “sit”, “stay”,
“JoJo, come”, “JoJo, let’s go!” and “JoJo, heel!” (always
rewarded with a small treat) and walk a lot.
I think the combination of exercise and consistent
training gives us both the confi dence to walk
safely past his fears.
Southampton, New York
Many people associate treats with love - they give their dogs a
yummy snack to show them how much they care. Th is can be
killing them with kindness, as many dog treats are high in fat. In56
Adopting a Rescue Dog
stead of showing your aff ection with food, why not give him some
extra attention or play time? He’ll appreciate that just as much.
If you want to give your dog a treat, keep them for when you want
to train him. Your dog will quickly learn to sit, drop and stay if
there is a delicious reward in it for him.
In America, over 90% of dogs live inside the home with their family.
Th is means that if you rescue a dog, you’ll have to go through
the same toilet training procedures that you would if you had a
puppy. Th is will ensure he learns exactly where you want him to
go to the toilet.
Most dogs are fully toilet trained within a matter of weeks, however
it can take longer if he has developed bad habits in the past.
Having a regular feeding schedule will allow you to better predict
when your dog needs to go outside, and will reduce the risk of accidents.
For quickest results, follow these simple rules for toilet training
your dog.
1. Never punish him if you catch him going to the toilet in the
wrong place. Th is will only teach him that he mustn’t be caught,
and he will become more secretive in his toileting habits.
2. Don’t punish him if you come home and fi nd an accident. He
won’t connect your anger with his toileting, and it won’t teach him
anything. Not only that, it will teach him that you are someone
to be feared.
Chapter 7: Day Two 57
3. Never leave your dog unattended inside. Keep him on a leash
and bring him with you wherever you go. If you see him sniffi ng
or looking like he needs to go to the toilet, take him outside to his
toilet area, and praise him enthusiastically when he goes.
4. If you can’t watch your dog, confi ne him in his crate. Dogs
don’t usually soil their den, so he’s not likely to go to the toilet
there. Make sure you take him outside regularly and praise him
for toileting in the right place.
5. If you live in an apartment, you may prefer to use pre-treated
toileting pads which encourage your dog to go to the toilet on
them. If so, the training technique is the same.
6. When your dog is reliably toileting in the right spot, you can
start to add a verbal command to this behavior. As he goes to the
toilet, tell him to “Do your business” or “Potty”. It won’t take
long for him to associate the word with going to the toilet, and
you can then use the word when you need him to go in a hurry,
such as before bed time.
7. Make sure you take him outside to go to the toilet even if it’s
raining. He needs to know that he must go outside to toilet,
whether or not the weather is bad.
Dogs feel most secure when they can predict their daily routine.
Initially, work out a schedule and be prepared to adjust it in those
fi rst few weeks with a new dog. It won’t take long until you have a
routine that suits both you and your dog.
58 Adopting a Rescue Dog
Sunny’s Story
On February 11, 2005 Holiday was ‘delivered’ to my home,
bathed, and wearing a new green collar. And there we were. I
decided to change her name to Sunny…she reminded me of a
ray of sunshine. Since, Sunny has lived up to what her name
implies but we sure went through diffi cult times together.
Sunny suff ered from severe separation anxiety. Th is manifested
in some destructive behavior (chewing door knobs and
door frames, barking incessantly when left alone at night,
urinating indoors when left alone at any time of the day) and
apprehension when meeting strangers, be they human, canine,
feline, or other. She also managed to escape several crates,
much to my amazement. All recommended advice seemed to
fail. I had studied everything I could get my hands on about
separation anxiety and how to combat it and tried it all, including
medication (Clomicalm, a product similar to Prozac).
Our progress was slow, and at times, hardly noticeable to me
and those (humans) around me.
If I had to give advice to someone facing a similar situation
with a shelter dog, it would consist of three words: love,
patience, and time. Today, after fi ve years of togetherness,
bonding, and consistent training with the positive reinforcement
approach and a clicker, Sunny is a changed dog. She
works as a certifi ed therapy dog at a day care facility for senior
citizens in my neighborhood. She has also visited schools and
hospitals. She stays home alone for up to seven hours with
Chapter 7: Day Two 59
no ‘accidents.’ She loves her crate and sleeps in it every night
with the door wide open. No more barking, just snoring! She
attends doggie day care on a regular basis and has become
a favorite with the staff and other canines. She meets new
people with curiosity and openness. She wants to sniff every
dog we meet on our walks, and exhibits patience and playfulness
with all of them, even young pups who will jump all over
her. She is obedient yet delightfully mischievous. And while
we still have a ways to go (she is overly protective of me, especially
when I have visitors in my home; she will chase squirrels,
and run away from sprinklers and big trucks), Sunny is a
wonderful companion.
How exactly did the change occur? I had to be very patient,
and creative. I used a spray to deter her from chewing the
door knob and door frame in the kitchen, where she stays
when I leave for work and errands or go to bed at night (Bitter
Apple). When Sunny barked for hours every single night,
I waited until she fi nally stopped. Only then would I go to
her and reward her for being silent. When I came home to
an ‘accident’ in the house (which happened daily for a long,
long time), I took her outside right away and praised her
for ‘doing her business.’ Th en, I would quietly clean up the
mess. I took treats with me on all our walks. When meeting
strangers (of all ages!), I asked them to assist me in training
Sunny, and to please give her a treat. It did not take all too
long and Sunny began to approach people with more interest
and less skepticism. I introduced her to as many canines (of
all sizes!) as possible and stayed calm and relaxed when they
60 Adopting a Rescue Dog
sniff ed each other (I had read that any tension in the handler
goes right through the leash into the dog to create anxiety and
potential aggression). Soon, Sunny started to look forward
to such encounters. Once I had fi gured out that we needed a
molded crate (she escaped various wire crates), I motivated her
to go inside with her very favorite treats and closed the door.
I left the door closed for a brief while only, then let Sunny out
again. Each time, I let a bit more time pass before opening
the door again. I never used the crate to punish, or for ‘time
outs’ (which dogs do not understand).
I am convinced that with love, patience, and time, almost any
dog can become a woman’s best friend and fi t in with diff erent
life situations. Commitment, some creativity, and staying
power are crucial elements in this process. Many shelter dogs
can be adopted with ease…but in case a dog exhibits diffi cult
behavior, or will not adjust quickly to its new life, there is
Los Angeles, California
Chapter 8
If you take home a rescue dog, you are committed to meeting all
his needs. Th at includes his need for exercise.
Lack of exercise can lead to obesity, heart disease and poor muscle
tone. It can also lead to behavioral problems because your dog
hasn’t expended its excess energy, and is bored. A dog who gets
enough exercise is more likely to be calm while at home, and tends
not to be anxious when he’s left on his own.
If you spend time exercising your dog, you’ll have a lot of fun
together and improve your relationship with him.
Before you start any exercise program with your dog, have him
checked by your veterinarian to make sure there’s no reason you
can’t increase his activity level. He may need to lose a little weight
fi rst, or he may be too young to do too much physical activity.
Keep an eye on the weather - dogs don’t sweat like we do, and can
suff er from heat stress in warm conditions.
Day Th ree:
Exercising Your Dog
62 Adopting a Rescue Dog
How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?
Don’t think for a minute that owning a big backyard will mean
your dog will get enough exercise. Dogs tend not to exercise
themselves, and will lie around waiting for you to play with him.
Th is means that you need to make the time to be active with him.
Diff erent breeds, and in fact diff erent individual dogs, have diff erent
exercise needs. Some dogs are happy with a walk every day.
Others, especially the working breeds, need a lot more exercise to
be satisfi ed. Aim to give your dog at least one exercise session a
day, and target the type and amount of exercise to his individual
Your dog is telling you he’s had enough when he is panting heavily,
and no longer actively participating in the activity. He may
no longer bring back a ball, or he may lie down under a shady tree
during your run. Be watchful for these signals because over-exercising
him when he’s tired may lead to injury.
Methods of Exercising Your Dog
Th ere are many ways of exercising your dog, and you’re sure to
fi nd one that you also enjoy.
Walking. Keep your dog on a leash as you walk, for his own
safety. Walking is a healthy activity for both of you, and is a great
way to unwind at the end of a busy day. You may fi nd, depending
on your dog, that you can’t walk far enough to tire him out.
If that’s the case, you may need to take up running or biking with
him, or play with him when you get home.
Running. You don’t need to run long distances to use up your
dog’s energy. Again, keep him on a leash and when you are startChapter
8: Day Th ree 63
ing, stick to grass, sand and other soft surfaces until his pads
toughen. Dogs are like people in that they need to build up to
a distance, so use a walk/run program such as the Couch to 5k
( with him, until he is fi t enough to go further.
Since these dogs have already been given away,
it’s really important to ask the shelter what behavioral/
health problems each of the potential pets
might be experiencing. Also, if the pets are leash
trained, potty trained, etc. Decide before-hand
if you want a puppy, or an older dog and how
you want to go! Get as much background info
as possible. From there, families REALLY need
to discuss and think about medical, obedience
costs that might be required and if they are willing
to put forth the eff ort to work with the dog
and ultimately keep him/her. Giving away the pet
shouldn’t be considered an option. Good shelters
should be helpful and honest and there are plenty
around if a family doesn’t get “warm fuzzies” with
Palatine, Illinois
Cycling. You can purchase accessories for your bicycle that hold
your dog’s leash as you ride. Th is allows you to run your dog longer
distances than you may be able to go on foot. Your dog will
need some time to get used to being close to your bike, so spend a
64 Adopting a Rescue Dog
few days just riding up and down your sidewalk before you venture
further afi eld. Th is is an advanced skill so take your time.
Swimming. Th is is particularly good for dogs with sore legs, because
they can exercise without putting any weight on them. Your
dog can swim in the ocean or a pool, and it will also keep him
cool as he works out.
Retrieving. Playing fetch is a great option if you prefer not to
exercise yourself, or if your dog needs to burn up a bit more energy
after a walk. Your dog can fetch a ball or other toy, for as
long as he wants or as long as you’re prepared to throw it for him.
You can teach your dog to play Frisbee with you, and this is a
great party trick for when you go to the beach. Whatever you play
with, keep your throws low and don’t allow your dog to leap in the
air to catch his toy, particular on hard surfaces. Th is is a recipe for
knee injuries.
Dog Sports. Dog agility, lure coursing and fl yball are fast sports
that keep a dog physically and mentally in great condition. Th ere
are clubs all over the country, and both you and your dog will
have a lot of fun training and competing in these sports. Th ey are
particularly good for improving your mental connection with your
dog, and a great way to build your relationship.
Exercising Your Dog’s Mind
Dogs are intelligent creatures, and need mental stimulation to
avoid boredom related behavioral problems. You can play some
fun games with him to keep him thinking; alternatively consider
purchasing toys such as the Buster Cube. You can put his kibble
into this cube, and he will spend hours working out how to get it
Chapter 8: Day Th ree 65
Other fun games include:
Find it - take one of your dog’s favorite treats, and hide it in a
room. Tell your dog to “Seek” and encourage him to search for
his treat. You can also hide his favorite toy, but make sure you let
your dog play with the toy before you hide it again. Th is will keep
him interested in it for next time.
Tunnel game - make a tunnel out of large cardboard boxes and
encourage your dog to go through it.
Find your dinner - hide the kibble for your dog’s dinner in your
backyard and help him scrounge around until he fi nds it. Th is can
keep him busy for quite a while.
Pick a bowl - put a treat under one of three bowls and see if your
dog can sniff it out. Watch him try and turn the bowl over to get
at the treat.
It does take time and eff ort to exercise your dog’s body and mind,
but it’s worth it. A tired dog is a happy dog, and is much less
likely to get into mischief.
66 Adopting a Rescue Dog
Millie’s Story
My mom had dementia so the dog got taken on quite a few
walks every day. Th e neighbors told me if my mom took
more than 2 walks a day (that was mom’s social time to visit
everyone in the neighborhood, and walks lasted about 2
hours) Millie would get to the fi rst stop sign down the street,
and would just stop walking and sit down, mom would have
to turn around and go home. Millie trained mom pretty
quick that 2 walks a day was enough.
My mother passed away in 2008, and we brought the dog to
our home immediately. We couldn’t bear the thought of her
being somewhere without our family because she had changed
so much in 2 years. At least she had familiar people, even
though it was a new environment. We are way more social
than my mom, so she went through a lot of changes again.
1. We tried to minimize too much noise, and too many
people around her for the fi rst few months, because it was
really stressful for her, she would actually throw up if she got
too stressed.
2. Millie needed a new bed so I took her to Pet’s Mart, and
couldn’t believe all she wanted to do was get in the dog crates.
So a new lesson was learned by us. In hindsight, because we
didn’t know her background, we should have off ered her a
crate. We just didn’t think of it, once we did she was so much
happier, and her stress level went way down.
Chapter 8: Day Th ree 67
She loves her crate, it’s become her safe place. If things get
too crazy, or loud she puts herself to bed, she stays there while
we cook and eat, so food stealing has been kept to a few incidences
in the last 2 years.
3. Men’s voices in general, even on the TV, and men trying to
touch her was a huge issue, she would threaten to bite if she
couldn’t get away from them. You could see the fear in her
eyes (we never allowed her to be put in that position after we
saw her reaction).
It took treats (food issue turned into a training lesson) and
spending time with my husband, the treat giver, as well as
male house guests, treat givers also, to have her become fairly
comfortable, and 2 years to be happy to greet them.
4. She hates when we leave, I think she has abandonment
issues, she’s much better when we leave if we put her in her
crate with a treat. She’s in her safe spot, and knows we will
Extra time (years), patience, gentleness, and consistency is
what made her come out of her shell. Introducing anything
new with supervision, speaking softly, holding her, made transitions
go well most of the time.
I would defi nitely adopt again, and recommend it to others,
doing research really helped us be aware of the challenges we
were going to face, we didn’t get everything right but we were
aware of many of the issues that come with adopting a rescue
68 Adopting a Rescue Dog
or shelter animal.
Denver, Colorado
Chapter 9
When you adopt a new dog, you must start training him immeadiately
so he begins to learn what is and isn’t acceptable in
your home. Th ere are several training methods you can use, but
one of the most powerful methods is positive reinforcement.
Most dogs love food. Grab a particularly delicious treat, and use
this to reward your dog for doing the right thing. If you own a
dog who is a fussy eater, he may prefer praise or a game of ball
when he does what you ask of him. Th e theory behind positive reinforcement
training is that any behavior that is rewarded is likely
to be repeated. One common example is when your dog jumps
up. If you give him a hug every time he jumps on you, he is being
rewarded for doing it, so he’ll continue jumping up on you.
Basic Guidelines for Dog Training
Timing. Whatever your dog is doing at the time you give him
the reward is the behavior that he is going to repeat. So, if you
Day Four:
Training Your Dog
70 Adopting a Rescue Dog
ask your dog to sit, and he obeys, give him a treat. But, if he gets
excited and jumps on you to get the treat, make sure he sits again
before he is rewarded. Otherwise you’re training him to jump.
You can use a clicker to mark the exact behavior you want, and
this is often easier than trying to get a treat into the right position
at the right time. Your dog can learn that the click means a treat is
coming, and you can be much more accurate with your timing.
Location. Start training a new behavior in a location that is not
very exciting, such as your backyard. Th is reduces the opportunity
for your dog to get distracted. As he becomes more reliable,
gradually move to a more distractable areas, so he learns to obey
you even if there’s something interesting happening nearby.
Short sessions. Several fi ve minute sessions a day are much more
benefi cial than a single one hour session when it comes to training
your dog, and it usually is easier to fi t into your lifestyle.
Be careful with commands. Use a short, easy to remember command,
rather than a multi-word phrase for each behavior you
would like to teach him. For example, tell your dog to “sit”, rather
than “sit down right now”. Also, to a dog, “sit” is a completely
diff erent command than “sit, sit, sit!”. Choose one word for each
behavior, and stick with it.
Consistency. Be clear in your mind what you are trying to teach
your dog each time you train him. Th at way you’ll get the most
out of each session, and he won’t become confused. Make sure all
members of the family use the same command for the same behavior.
You may want to create a list of the commands that your
dog is learning and pin it to the wall, so everyone can become
Chapter 9: Day Four 71
familiar and re-read them as needed.
Use shaping. Sometimes your dog won’t learn the right behavior
straight away. It’s fi ne to reward a behavior close to what you want
him to do, so he gets the general idea. From there, you can then
only reward behaviors that are closer to what you want him to do.
Remember that training your dog starts from
when they get to their new home. Dogs like
to know their boundaries. It is important to give
those upfront and to be consistent. Have a game
plan on how you would like to train your new
family member.
Fort Worth, Texas
Th ere are dog training clubs in most regions that would only be
too happy to help you train your dog. If you’re having trouble
with training, do contact them before things become too bad.
Leash Training
In many areas, the law requires you to walk your dog on a leash.
Leash training should start straight away when you bring your
dog home. Depending on their background, older dogs may take
a longer time to become used to wearing a leash, but all dogs can
learn to behave nicely while they are being walked.
Dogs are like people in that some learn faster than others. Don’t
72 Adopting a Rescue Dog
be frustrated if your dog takes a little while to learn to walk on a
leash, just continue your training and he will get there. Never hit
or yell at your dog while he is learning, and don’t jerk on the leash;
it won’t help him learn any quicker.
Th ere are many diff erent types of leash and collar combinations
available. Most dog trainers recommend a fl at fabric leash which
is comfortable to hold, and one that is four to six feet in length.
Use a fl at collar on your dog when you are training him; choke
chains or prong collars can be harmful in the hands of inexperienced
If you own a particularly boisterous dog, you may want to try a
head halter. Th ese have a combined loop around your dog’s muzzle
and collar around his neck, and will gently control his head as
you train him. It’s similar to a halter that is used to walk a horse.
Th ere are fi ve main steps to getting your dog used to being on a
1. Put the leash and collar on him, and give him his meal. Th e
leash is unlikely to bother him as he eats, and he’ll also start to associate
the leash with something enjoyable.
2. Let him walk around the house with the leash attached, so he
gets used to feeling a little weight on him. Take him outside into
your yard as the grass will off er more resistance as he pulls the
leash around.
3. As your dog walks around dragging the leash, occasionally pick
it up and walk beside him, so he gets used to you being near him.
Keep it positive, with praise and treats as he walks.
Chapter 9: Day Four 73
4. When your dog is comfortable having the leash on, use a treat
to encourage him to walk with you. Most trainers teach their dog
to walk on their left side. Th is is just convention, and there’s no
reason not to walk your dog on your right side if it’s more comfortable
for you.
5. As your dog becomes more familiar with you walking with him
on leash, he may try to surge ahead. If he does this, do a quick
clockwise turn, encouraging him around with you and rewarding
him when he is again beside you. Again, short but frequent sessions
are most productive, and your dog will soon learn that he
needs to walk next to you to earn a reward.
Training your rescue dog is an investment in your future together.
It means that you’ll avoid the stress of a badly behaved dog, and
he’ll have the security of knowing what’s expected of him. Training
is also a good opportunity to give your dog the kind of mental exercise
he needs to thrive. Best of all, training is a natural bonding
opportunity, where you can demonstrate leadership and your dog
can learn to become comfortable following your lead.
74 Adopting a Rescue Dog
Doc’s Story
We knew that we wanted to adopt a dog that was good for
people with allergies, so we researched a lot on the internet to
fi nd breeds that were best for that. We found that dogs with
wiry, coarse or curly hair would be the way to go; we also both
work full time so we wanted a dog that wasn’t high energy
or needed a lot of running around and exercise. We ideally
wanted to adopt a wheaten terrier, fi nding one in a shelter was
very diffi cult so we found a rescue online, but unfortunately
they didn’t have any dogs that would work for our lifestyle
and schedule.
It was very frustrating for us at fi rst because it seemed like
every time we found a dog that we thought would work,
someone else would adopt them right before we were able to.
We also found that some rescues didn’t get back to us right
away or had little information about the dog, or they were 3
hours away so we couldn’t go till the weekend. Our patience
did pay off , we expanded our search to other breeds and we
found a terrier mix two hours away. He was fi ve years old and
had bounced around in shelters for some time. We contacted
the rescue and were able to go down and pick him up the next
weekend. We have had him for three months and we have
had very few problems since we adopted him, and we are so
happy to have him in our lives.
I think my biggest advice would be to be patient and be sure
you are adopting the right dog for you, had we wanted to
Chapter 9: Day Four 75
adopt a lab or pit bull or boxer we would have been able to go
to a shelter and come home with one almost the same day, but
then the dog wouldn’t have been right for us and in the long
run the situation wouldn’t have been best for the dog or us.
Nottingham, Maryland

Chapter 10
Although we may not like rules and regulations, we often fi nd
it easier to get things done when there are guidelines to follow.
Th e same goes for our dogs. Th ey appreciate knowing where the
boundaries are, and in fact are less stressed when they have a leader
to follow.
Dogs are pack animals. Your dog’s pack consists of you and your
family. Each member of the pack has their own place in the hierarchy,
with the alpha at the head. It’s important that you establish
yourself as the alpha member in your pack.
Dogs are happier and less stressed when they have a leader to follow.
Many behavioral problems that occur in dogs are due to the
lack of a strong leader. Problems also occur when a dog is taken
from his litter too early and then not properly socialized during
puppyhood. Th ese dogs often don’t understand doggie communication,
and can have issues with leadership as adults.
Day Five:
Establishing Leadership
78 Adopting a Rescue Dog
Many people are hesitant to be assertive with their rescue dog
because they feel that he has had a rough life, and they should be
gentle with him. Th ey are reluctant to be fi rm, because they don’t
want to stress him. Th e truth is, your dog wants guidance. He
wants to know that you’re his leader, it helps him feel secure.
Establishing Yourself as Pack Leader
If you don’t adopt the role of your dog’s pack leader, you’ll fi nd
that he will take over that position for himself. Th is can lead to
behavioral problems such as aggression, and also higher levels of
Being pack leader doesn’t mean you have to be loud and harsh to
your dog. It means being fair, even tempered and consistent. It is
a leader’s job to set your dog’s boundaries, protect your pack and
control resources like food and toys.
When you bring home a rescue dog, you must start as you mean
to go on. Although you can expect a few teething problems, don’t
make allowances for the fact he’s new to your family. Start teaching
him straight away what the rules are. Use positive training
methods, and repeat your training sessions regularly, and he’ll
quickly learn what he can and can’t do.
You can set physical boundaries, such as having certain rooms that
your dog isn’t allowed in, or not permitting him into your kitchen.
You can also set mental rules, such as teaching him that he’s
not allowed to bark for attention. Both are an important part of
teaching your dog where he fi ts in to your pack.
Chapter 10: Day Five 79
Alpha Exercises
Th ere is a school of thought that suggests that bad behavior in
our dogs is due to them trying to dominate us. Some dog owners
believe that to be an eff ective leader, you have to show dominance
over your dog with techniques such as the “alpha roll”. To do an
alpha roll, you physically force your dog onto his back and hold
him there until he relaxes.
Sammy didn’t need much training. She was a
very placid girl, the hardest thing was getting
her to come inside (must have been an outside
girl) but she eventually did come in and decided
she liked the couch a lot!! She was a very gentle
girl who never had any problems with other dogs,
loved people and was happy to go for walks and
sleep on the couch.
New South Wales, Australia
Other alpha exercises include scruffi ng and shaking your dog,
growling at your dog, or forcing him onto his side and not letting
him get up.
Many people believe that when your dog relaxes in an alpha roll,
it indicates that he has submitted to you, and recognizes you as
leader. Th is dominance theory is no longer accepted by many
professionals. In fact, techniques such as the alpha roll may actually
lead to your dog being aggressive towards you because he is
80 Adopting a Rescue Dog
Th e American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior suggests that
dogs don’t behave badly because they are trying to dominate their
owners. Instead they feel that dogs are naughty for two reasons.
Firstly, they haven’t been consistently taught right from wrong,
and secondly, they are afraid or anxious and that leads to bad
behavior such as aggression. Research has shown that if you are
aggressive to your dog, he is more likely to be aggressive.
Th ere’s no need to perform alpha exercises on your dog. Th ey are
scary, they don’t teach your dog anything and they may result in
you getting bitten.
Teaching Your Dog Who Is In Charge
Th ere are many ways that you can show your dog that you are in
charge, and they don’t involve getting physical with him, or causing
him any fear at all. You’ll end up with a better mannered dog,
and a much more enjoyable relationship with him. After all, who
wants to have their dog afraid of them?
• You must eat your food before your dog has his meal. Pack
leaders eat fi rst.
• You must go through a doorway before your dog does. Teach
him to sit and wait, and not to follow you until he’s told to.
• If your dog is lying in the way, don’t step over him, ask him to
move. After all, you are the leader.
• Teach your dog to sit and wait for his meal, and not to eat until
you give him the command. Pack leaders control access to resources
such as food.
Chapter 10: Day Five 81
• Until your dog recognizes you as leader, don’t invite him to sit
on the couch with you, or to sleep on your bed. When he fully
understands that you are in charge, you can then invite him to
join you if you wish.
• Don’t reward your dog for jumping up, or other attention seeking
behavior. Ask him to sit politely, and only then does he get a
• Train your dog in basic obedience, and expect him to do as you
ask him, when you ask him. Regular training will reinforce your
position in the pack.
As you can imagine, these methods take more time and eff ort than
physically scruffi ng your dog and rolling him on his back. However,
they are more eff ective in showing your dog that you’re in
charge, and will result in your dog respecting you instead of fearing
Th ere is a training method called “Nothing in life is free”. Basically,
this means that anything your dog wants, he has to earn. He
wants to play? Th at’s fi ne, but he has to sit before you throw the
ball. He wants to eat? No worries, but don’t give one piece of
food until he’s performed a sit-stay exercise.
It’s not hard to show your dog that you’re his pack leader, and
you can do it without causing him any anxiety or fear. He will
feel happier and more secure, knowing he has a leader that he can
82 Adopting a Rescue Dog
Truman’s Story
As you probably know, Shelter dogs have a tendency toward
separation anxiety. So, whenever we leave, still, he starts that
bark that sounds like I’m killing him! Anyway, we started
to leave him for a day with my in laws and he adapted very
quickly and nicely. He really took to my father in law and
now they are great pals. He’s got his own routine and setup
there ... his own dog bed, food, treats etc. So, it’s like being at
home there and now he’s there all of the time. I was nervous
about it at fi rst, thinking that he would become neurotic, but
my vet said that even dogs get bored so it’s probably a good
thing. And it is!
Dogs tend to bond with one person so at our house it’s me,
and at their house it’s my father in law. Th ey made sure to
take him out often at fi rst so he didn’t mark the inside of the
house. He did mark the house inside and they corrected him
and he didn’t do it anymore. At fi rst, it’s good to keep an
eye out for clues to see if he needs to go outside until you get
familiar with him.
When he fi rst came home with me, he pooped a few times in
the house. We didn’t catch him though so it was too late to
correct him but gradually we got to know each other and it’s
pretty clear to us when he needs to go outside. We tried to
get him to go outside as often as possible until he fi gured out
how to tell us.
We’ve only had our dog stay with one other person and that
Chapter 10: Day Five 83
was my mother. I brought him to their house with his crate,
toys, rawhide bones, treats and supplies. I ended up staying
overnight so that he could get used to my mom and her husband.
We went out right away and took him for a walk so
he could bond with them and also had her feed him instead
of me. I think that the walk is key. It allows him to get used
to them and see them as a way to get out and have fun and
sniff around. Once he got over me leaving him, he got used
to them pretty quickly and loved it there by all accounts. Of
course, it doesn’t hurt that they have big picture windows and
lots of squirrels outside.
I’ve heard also that leaving an article of clothing with your
scent helps dogs to feel more comfortable as well.
Chicago, Illinois

Chapter 11
Socializing your dog involves teaching him the appropriate way
to respond to the variety of things he may encounter during his
day to day life. He needs to get used to people, other animals,
cars and the many other sights, sounds and shapes of his neighborhood.
If a dog is well socialized, he will be calm, confi dent and
relaxed no matter what situation he fi nds himself in.
How a dog responds to his environment is a result of how he is
raised. It’s best to start socializing your dog while he is a puppy
but if you have rescued an adult dog, that won’t be possible. Even
if your new dog is well out of the puppy stage, you can still help
him learn to adapt to changes in the world around him by exposing
him to a variety of people and places.
Socializing Your Puppy
One of the most important parts of socializing a pup is leaving
him with his mom and littermates until he is eight weeks old. If
Day Six:
Socializing Your Dog
86 Adopting a Rescue Dog
you take him away too early, he misses out on learning about dog
communication and behavior from his doggy family, and is more
likely to have diffi culties interacting with other dogs later in life.
Th ere is a specifi c period between the ages of four and twelve
weeks of age when socialization is particularly important and
eff ective for your pup. If you can expose him to as many pleasant
experiences with other people and animals as you can during
this period, he will grow up to be friendlier and less afraid of new
Puppy pre-school classes are an important part of socializing your
pup. While these classes do teach him basic obedience exercises,
they also allow him to play and interact with other young dogs in
a safe environment.
Even if your pup is outgoing and relaxed, continue to work on
socialization. Adolescent dogs can become cautious and nervous
in new situations, even if their owners have done everything right
when they were young. Take him to obedience classes, and introduce
him to lots of people and other dogs, while making it a positive
experience for him.
Socializing an Adult Dog
If you have rescued an adult dog, you may not know what his experiences
have been as a puppy. It is therefore even more important
that you start socializing him as soon as he’s settled into your
You may fi nd that he is particularly fearful of one group of people,
such as children. If that’s the case, invite a few sensible children to
your home on a regular basis. Keep your dog on a leash, and ask
Chapter 11: Day Six 87
the children to throw a favorite treat to your dog. If he is comfortable
with that, then ask the children to off er a treat on an open
hand. Take it slowly and it won’t be long before your dog is looking
for children to say hello to, because they may give him a treat.
If there is already a pet in the family, ask the
shelter if the potential dog has been socialized
with other animals (dogs, cats) and children.
Best to adopt a pet that is already probably going
to be compatible with all members of it’s new
If he is nervous around other dogs, help him get used to them in
a controlled way. You’ll need help with this, so ask a friend with a
friendly dog to come and visit. Have your dog on a leash and reward
him with treats for staying calm when the other dog is nearby.
Over a period of weeks, gradually bring the other dog closer,
while giving your dog treats. Over time, he will learn to be relaxed
when another dog comes close to him.
Steps to Socializing Your Dog
1. Take your dog to a dog obedience class that uses positive training
methods such as food rewards or clicker training. He will
meet other dogs and their owners and it will also strengthen his
relationship with you. If he has confi dence in you as his leader, he
will feel less stressed in new situations because he will feel certain
88 Adopting a Rescue Dog
that you are in control.
2. Grab a bag of treats, and go walking with your dog in a variety
of environments. Keep him on leash so he stays safe, and walk
past noisy schools and alongside busy roads. Reward him with
treats for staying calm, and ignore any anxious behavior such as
barking or pulling on the leash. Use the treats to keep his attention
on you, and distract him from anything he is nervous about.
3. Introduce him to other dogs, and when he’s comfortable with
them, allow him to play with them off leash. Th is may mean
starting out by having play dates in your backyard with dogs belonging
to friends and family. You may, if he’s comfortable, graduate
to meeting unfamiliar dogs in off leash dog parks, but don’t do
this until he has met a lot of friendly dogs and hasn’t shown any
sign of fear or anxiety. You have no control over the dogs that run
loose at a dog park, and an interaction with an aggressive dog can
undo all your good work.
4. Invite your friends to visit, and ask them to bring their children.
Make sure that the children are sensible around dogs; children
who shriek and run are only going to startle him. By taking
the time to introduce your dog to children, you’ll reduce the risk
of him becoming frightened by them when he bumps into them
during his walks.
5. Take your dog with you as often as you can. Some cafes allow
you to sit outside with your dog while you have a coff ee. Th is is
a great way to expose him to people, as many of them will stop to
say hello to him.
If at any time you’re concerned about your dog’s socialization, parChapter
11: Day Six 89
ticularly if he is aggressive, seek professional help. In most cases,
your dog can be helped by a specifi c training program and perhaps
medication to help with any anxiety.
Although it sounds like a lot of work, socialization isn’t that diffi -
cult. It is a vital part of being a responsible dog owner, and something
that can make the world of diff erence to your dog’s enjoyment
of life.
Rex’s Story
I adopted my four year old Siberian Husky Rex from a rescue
group in So. Cal, who had pulled him from a shelter before he
was euthanized. Th e rescue group had no backstory on him
and knew almost nothing about him at all.
All I knew for sure when I applied to adopt him was that he
had been fostered by somebody who runs a cat rescue, and
that he appeared to be good with cats, which was one of the
most important traits for me. I was approved for his adoption
and I took him home on May 16th, 2009.
I feel that I have been supremely lucky with Rex. When I got
him, he already had very good behavior around people and in
fact loved everybody. He knew how to sit and do basic tricks,
he was very gentle when taking treats from my hand, and he
was not hyper, destructive or anything. He was fully housebroken
and appeared to be very comfortable inside a house.
With no backstory, I am left to guess at why he was dumped
at a shelter. Over the months I’ve had him, I’ve gotten to
90 Adopting a Rescue Dog
know him pretty well and I’ve observed a few things that
puzzle me. One thing is pretty clear, he must have lived in
a house with people at some point. He is too well behaved
indoors to assume anything else. He has very good manners
with people and even with small children, and I didn’t teach
him that. However, he does have issues with other dogs.
He is not aggressive with people or other animals, but he is
excited about other dogs to the point of frustration. After
observing him for months, I’ve come to the conclusion that
he doesn’t know how to greet other dogs nicely, and that he
appears to be oblivious to the warning signs other dogs give
him. Th is leads me to believe he may have been taken from
his mother too early, before he could learn the ins and outs of
doggy communication.
So while he is not aggressive, he is excited and persistent
around other dogs, to the point that they will start growling at
him because he won’t stop sniffi ng them and being a general
nuisance. He also sniff s and marks everything in sight (outdoors
– never in somebody’s home), despite the fact that he’s
neutered. I think those two behaviors are probably connected.
Having said that, I can say that the dog greeting and interaction
issues he has are his only fl aws as far as I can tell. He is a
wonderfully sweet dog, he is a joy to come home to every day,
and I can’t remember what my life was like before I adopted
Chapter 11: Day Six 91
Las Vegas, Nevada

Chapter 12
When you own a dog, it’s essential that you have a veterinarian
you can trust to help with any injuries and illnesses that may arise.
Th is person is going to be your partner when it comes to keeping
your dog healthy, so you must have absolute confi dence in them.
If you don’t have a vet, you’ll need to fi nd one, preferably before
you bring your dog home from the shelter.
Where do you start looking?
Th e shelter where you obtained your dog may be able to off er
some recommendations. Shelters often work with local veterinarians
when they need treatment for the animals in their care, and
may be able to point you in the right direction.
Alternatively, ask your pet owning neighbors for their suggestions.
Make a list of the names you have been given, and visit each one
in turn. Take a note of how clean the clinic is, and whether or not
Day Seven:
Healthcare for Your Dog
94 Adopting a Rescue Dog
the staff are rushed, or if they have time to chat to you. Find out
what services they off er, and ask for a fee schedule. One important
thing you must ask is what their arrangements are for after
hours emergencies. Th at way, should your dog have an accident
outside offi ce hours, you’ll know exactly how to get help.
Make an appointment for your dog to have a checkup within a
week or so of your taking him home from the shelter. Th is will
give you the opportunity to make sure he’s in good health, and
chat to the vet about any preventative health care your dog needs.
Visiting Your Vet
Some dogs can become quite anxious when they visit their vet.
Th e clinic has lots of smells that you and I can’t detect, but your
dog’s sensitive nose will notice them very quickly.
When you need to visit your vet, there are some things you can do
to make things easier for everyone, including your dog.
• At home, spend the time to get your dog used to having his
ears, eyes, mouth and feet examined. It’s hard for your vet to do
her job if your dog won’t sit still and let her check his teeth.
• Take your dog to the toilet before you enter the clinic. Th at
makes it less likely that he’ll urinate on the fl oor or walls when he
gets inside.
• If your dog is fearful or anxious, don’t pat him and tell him it’s
alright. Th is is rewarding his behavior, so he’ll continue to be
afraid. Be very matter of fact, and only acknowledge your dog
when he’s doing the right thing.
Chapter 12: Day Seven 95
• Allow the veterinary staff to hold your dog. Th ey are trained to
safely restrain even the largest dog, so there won’t be any injury to
you, the staff or your dog should he wriggle or jump away.
• If you’re passing, call into the clinic for a social visit and a
treat. Th is will teach your dog that not all visits mean an examination,
and he’ll be much happier to come in when he needs treatment.
Having your new shelter dog’s teeth cleaned
when you get them is a good idea just in case
the have a dental problem. A little prevention can
avoid a lot of costly issues later.
Bethel, Connecticut
Keeping Your Dog Healthy
Dogs need regular maintenance to keep things in perfect working
order. By doing the basics, you can prevent many serious problems
from developing. Here is a list of what every dog needs to
stay well.
Nutrition. Whether your rescue dog is a puppy or an adult, you
need to feed him well. Th is means a good quality food with meat
protein listed as one of the top two or three ingredients on the
packet. Premium foods are more expensive, but are also more concentrated
so you can feed your dog less. Cheap foods are usually
based on cereals, and your dog may not thrive if he eats them.
96 Adopting a Rescue Dog
Parasite Control. Th is means internal and external parasites.
Internal parasites include intestinal worms and heartworms. Intestinal
worms can cause diarrhea, weight loss, a poor coat and
even anemia, so you need to worm him regularly. Heartworm can
cause heart failure and lung disease, and can be fatal. Your vet will
be able to advise you on whether or not heartworm is prevalent in
your region, and how to prevent it.
Ticks can cause serious illness in your dog, either by spreading
disease such as lyme disease, or by causing paralysis. Fleas drink
blood and have been known to make a dog so anemic, he dies.
Shampoos aren’t very eff ective in the long term control of external
parasites, but both fl eas and ticks can be controlled with topical
treatments which are applied to your dog’s clean dry coat.
Vaccinations. Vaccinating your dog is critical in preventing serious
illness. Th ere is a basic vaccination schedule which protects
against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and the two components
of canine cough, parainfl uenza and bordetella. Depending on
where you live, your vet may also recommend vaccinating against
leptospirosis or lyme disease.
Dental care. Just like us, your dog needs his teeth cared for.
Young dogs have a lot of changes happening in their mouth, as
they lose their baby teeth and grow a set of much larger adult
teeth. Adult dogs need regular teeth cleaning to prevent gum disease
and tartar and the associated pain and bad breath.
Regular brushing with a soft toothbrush is the best way to keep
your dog’s teeth clean. If your dog’s teeth need brushing, make
it a regular part of his day, and his gums and teeth will stay clean
and healthy.
Chapter 12: Day Seven 97
Coat Care. Depending on your dog’s coat length, he may or may
not need much grooming. Some breeds such as Poodles are also
traditionally clipped into a specifi c style. Th ere’s no reason why
you can’t learn to do this yourself.
Longer coats need regular brushing, to remove loose hair and prevent
knots and tangles. Even short coats need an occasional brush
but they are much lower maintenance.
How often should you bathe your dog? Th at varies. Some people
bathe their dog as often as weekly, yet others don’t wash their dog
much at all. Th e more you bathe your dog, the more likely you
are to remove the natural oils in his coat, and leave his fur dry and
brittle. Whenever you wash your dog, use a mild soap free shampoo
and rinse it thoroughly from his coat.
You may be surprised to learn that one of the biggest infl uences
on your dog’s coat condition is his diet. Feed him well, and you’ll
notice the diff erence, his coat will be soft, shiny and luxurious.
Spay and Neuter. Most shelters have their dogs spayed or neutered
before they are rehomed, to avoid any chance of them contributing
to the number of dogs in the world. Th ere are health
benefi ts to spaying your female dog. It can reduce their risk of
breast cancer, and it completely prevents them developing pyometron,
a potentially fatal infection of the uterus.
Male dogs are less likely to go wandering in search of a female if
they are neutered, and they may also be less territorial.
Health Insurance. If your budget allows, do consider buying
health insurance for your dog. It means that you’ll be able to give
him the best care should he become ill or injured, without worry98
Adopting a Rescue Dog
ing about fi nances. Th ere are many policies available, read the fi ne
print carefully and choose one that meets your needs.
Caring for your dog’s health is part and parcel of being a dog
owner. If you don’t take care of the basics, you run the risk of him
becoming unwell. Th at isn’t good for him, and his treatment may
be expensive. Don’t skimp on your best friend’s health.
Kallie’s Story
Th e best advice I would give to someone planning to adopt
a shelter dog is to get the dog to the vet immediately upon
adopting it. I would even suggest scheduling the vet appointment
before actually visiting the shelter. Th en you can go
straight to the vet with your new dog.
A couple years ago, my husband and I adopted an eight-week
old puppy from the local Animal Control. We had everything
we needed like puppy food, toys, blankets, and a freshly newspaper-
ed fl oor. We signed the papers, handed over the small
fee for adopting a shelter dog, and started the drive home.
Almost immediately, the puppy started having problems. During
the half-hour drive back home, we had to stop three times
to let her out, and she had diarrhea each time. We were concerned
but thought that it could just be the stress of the day.
I called and made an appointment at our trusted vet’s offi ce
Chapter 12: Day Seven 99
for the next morning. Almost immediately, I regretted not
having made the appointment for that same day, but by then
it was too late to change it. Our new puppy threw up the
food we gave her and continued to have diarrhea every hour
or so. She was obviously very sick and my husband and I had
a sleepless night worrying about her. We made frequent trips
outside with her and tried to comfort her through her obvious
Fortunately, tapeworms are easily treatable, and our vet administered
the medicine, along with the other vaccinations
that dogs need. Th e vet told us that if we had waited even one
more day before coming in, our beautiful puppy would probably
have been dead.
Our puppy, who was once so close to death, is now a happy,
healthy and huge sixty-pound mutt who will be turning two
years old in just a few weeks. She loves running and playing
and chewing on everything (especially things she’s not supposed
to), and she still enjoys chasing her tail, though she
usually can’t catch it.
Buchanan, Michigan
100 Adopting a Rescue Dog
Chapter 13
Congratulations on rescuing a shelter dog. You’re starting out
together on a journey full of adventures and good times. Even
though your dog is now a part of your family, don’t take him for
granted. It’s part of your job description to make sure he’s happy
and enjoying life. And if you do that I’m sure he will return the
favor tenfold!
Th ere are several things you can do every day to show your dog
that he’s your best friend.
• Speak to him in a cheerful tone. He may not understand what
you’re saying, but he’ll know how you feel by the way you say it.
Tell him he’s a good boy in a happy voice, and watch his tail wag!
Even when you’re cross, don’t yell at him. Instead speak in a calm
even tone so he’s not afraid of you. You want him to respect your
leadership, not be fearful.
• Don’t leave him on his own for long periods of time. Your dog
102 Adopting a Rescue Dog
loves to be with you, and the greatest gift you can give him is time.
Whether you’re playing ball in the backyard, going for a walk in
your neighborhood or just snuggling together on the couch, he’ll
love spending time with you. Th e more time you spend with your
dog, the better your relationship will be.
• Keep him physically and mentally challenged. Dogs are intelligent,
and they do get bored. A bored dog can fi nd his own entertainment,
and dig holes or pull your laundry off the line. Take
him for regular walks along the streets, go for a swim at the beach,
or try a run through some forest trails. We’ve said it before, but
it bears repeating, a tired dog is a happy dog. When it comes to
keeping his mind active, why not teach him some tricks? He’ll get
to use his brain, and it will be great fun teaching him to roll over,
play dead or take a bow.
Fun Th ings To Do With Your Dog
Th ere are so many enjoyable activities you can share with your
dog. Th ey not only enhance your relationship, but they also improve
your communication with him. Some of these activities can
be done on your own; others are best taught with the support of a
dog club. Try a few, or try them all. You’re sure to fi nd something
that you both enjoy.
1. Dog agility. Th is fast paced sport is fun for spectators and
participants alike. Dogs are taught to negotiate obstacles such as
hurdles, ramps and tunnels, while trying to beat the clock. Any
dog can have a go at agility, and it’s particularly good for the fast
working breeds - they are great at thinking on the move.
2. Flyball racing. Teams of four dogs run down a lane, grab a
Chapter 13: Conclusion 103
tennis ball and race back in a high speed relay race. Again, any
breed or mix can have a go at fl yball racing, but because the dogs
get very excited, your dog needs to be completely non-aggressive
when he’s fi red up.
3. Lure coursing. Th is event was initially designed for sight
hounds such as greyhounds and whippets. Th e dogs chase a lure,
often a plastic bag, along a course at full speed. Great fun, and it’s
wonderful to watch dogs in full fl ight.
4. Obedience training and competition. Certainly you can take
your dog to obedience classes, but did you know that you can
actually compete in obedience trials with him? Dogs are given
points for completing several obedience exercises, and even if you
don’t win, you can gain enough points to qualify for an obedience
5. Frisbee. You can play frisbee with your dog anywhere from the
park to the beach. When you’re playing frisbee, don’t ask your dog
to jump too high, or he may hurt himself.
6. Herding. If you have a working breed, you can encourage him
to make use of his natural instincts by teaching him herding. It’s
great to see these dogs do what they were bred for, and this mental
exercise can really tire them out. Dogs can start to learn to herd
ducks, then move on to sheep and cattle when they have more
7. Field trails. Hunting or Sporting dogs such as Labrador Retrievers
and the Spaniel breeds enjoy fi eld trials where they can
fl ush out and retrieve game. Again, it allows them to exercise their
104 Adopting a Rescue Dog
8. Schutzhund. Th is sport involves tracking, obedience and training
the dog to search for, guard and hold a person. It requires a
dog to have a very steady temperament, and tests a dog’s ability
to work, his strength and his courage. Initially developed for the
German Shepherd Dog, the sport now welcomes many diff erent
breeds of dog.
9. Canine Musical Freestyle. Th is relatively new sport involves
performing obedience routines to music. Th e routine has to be
choreographed to fi t the rhythm of the music that the trainer
chooses, and both dog and handler can dress in costume to enhance
their performance.
10. Pets as Th erapy. If you own a calm dog who loves to meet
people, you may want to investigate the pets as therapy program.
You can take your dog to visit elderly residents of a nursing home,
who may be lonely. Research has shown that visiting dogs can
make a positive diff erence to the lives of these residents, with
many of them looking forward to visits from their four legged
Th ere is a saying that the family that plays together, stays together.
Th e same could be said of you and your dog. If you get involved
in a sport with your dog, your future together will be very bright






















The golden rules of house-training include setting up a daily routine and praising your dog for a job well-done! Read the following guidelines, then check the sample schedule which

Remember to be patient: house-training is not a process that happens overnight. Give your dog some time to adjust to the new setting and his new daily routine. Keep in mind that puppies under 5 months of age cannot physically hold their bladders for more than 8 hours (if that!). Do not expect your dog to hold it" if he is not allowed to go out regularly.

Establish a daily routine of going outside after feeding, after naps, after long playtimes, as soon as you get home, at bedtime and first thing in the morning.

Yard areas Choose one area of the yard to be used as the dog's toilet area and use this area all the time.

When your dog does eliminate at the right time and in the right spot, give her a great deal of praise! By encouraging your pet with praise she will want to repeat that act over and over again for you. Praising always helps to reinforce the action. Consistent praising will help make the house-training process go faster!

Be Alert
Keep a watchful eye on your dog for signs that he wants to eliminate. These signs include sniffing, circling, and squatting. If the dog starts doing these things, take him outside to his spot right away.

Good Commands
Using a special phrase such as "hurry up" will reinforce the house-training process for your dog. Use the command when you take him out and then give praise after he is done. If you do this every time, your dog will "hurry up" right away when he goes outside!

If you catch your pet in the act indoors, do not spank him! This adds to the confusion and will set you back in your training. Instead, give a voice correction, such as "no!", and then immediately rush him outside to his spot.

Use vinegar to clean-up any indoor messes to remove all odors. Make sure that you remove all of the odor because an elimination reflex can be set off when the dog smells that spot and he might repeat the act.

If you take your dog outside and she does not do anything, then stand around and wait. If after about ten minutes the dog still has not done anything, try leaving her outside alone while you watch from inside. If she does do something, go out and praise her. If she does not do anything, return her to the house but continue to go out every five or ten minutes until she completes the job.

When you cannot watch your dog in the house, or while you are out of the house, make sure that the dog is kept confined to a kennel crate (see the information sheet on crate-training) or to a special room so that he does not have the opportunity to soil the entire house. Every time he comes out of the crate or room, take him outside immediately.
If you are using a special room to keep your puppy in while you are out, use news-papers to cover the floor so that clean-up is easy. Gradually make the newspaper area smaller so that soon only one small space is papered. After 3 months of age, train the puppy outdoors only.

Night Time
At night, make sure that you remove all water about two hours before bedtime. Take your dog outside before bed and then put her in the crate or the papered room. Make sure that you take her outside first thing in the morning.

It is dangerous to restrict your dog's water supply to discourage urination! Especially in
warm weather, this practice could be deadly.

First thing in the morning, take your dog out to her same spot.
Give your dog her morning food and water.
Take your dog out after eating, and once again before you leave the house.
Confine your dog to her crate or to a special pampered room when you are out.
If possible, go home at lunch to let your dog out to her spot.
Take your dog out to her spot immediately when you get home. If possible, it is best
to do this at the same time each day.
Feed your dog her dinner, then go outside again.
Always take her outside to her spot after playtime, after her nap, and always just
before bedtime.

Remember: Have lots of patience, stick to an established routine, and always give lots of praise for a job well done.


 Passive House Training or Paper Training

While your puppy is confined, he is developing a habit of eliminating on paper because no matter where he goes, it will be on paper. As time goes on, he will start to show a preferred place to do his business. When this place is well established and the rest of the papers remain clean all day, then gradually reduce the area that is papered. 

Start removing the paper that is furthest away from his chosen location. Eventually you will only need to leave a few sheets down in that area only. If he ever misses the paper, then you've reduced the area too soon. Go back to papering a larger area or even the entire room. 

Once your puppy is reliably going only on the papers you've left, then you can slowly and gradually move his papers to a location of your choice. Move the papers only an inch a day. If puppy misses the paper again, then you're moving too fast. Go back a few steps and start over. Don't be discouraged if your puppy seems to be making remarkable progress and then suddenly you have to return to papering the entire room. This is normal. There will always be minor set-backs. If you stick with this procedure, your puppy will be paper trained.

House Training When You Are Home

When you are home but can't attend to your puppy, follow the same procedures described above. However, the more time you spend with your puppy, the quicker he will be house trained. Your objective is to take your puppy to his toilet area every time he needs to eliminate. This should be about once every 45 minutes; just after a play session; just after eating or drinking; and just upon waking. 

When he does eliminate in his toilet area, praise and reward him profusely and enthusiastically! Don't use any type of reprimand or punishment for mistakes or accidents. Your puppy is too young to understand and it can set the house training process back drastically. 

Don't allow your puppy freedom outside of his room unless you know absolutely for sure that his bladder and bowels are completely empty. When you do let him out, don't let him out of your sight. It is a good idea to have him on leash when he is exploring your home. He can't get into trouble if you are attached to the other end of the leash. 

Every 30 minutes return your pup to his toilet area. As your puppy becomes more reliable about using his toilet area and his bowel and bladder control develops, he can begin to spend more time outside his room with you in the rest of your home. Begin by giving him access to one room at a time. Let him eat, sleep and play in this room but only when he can be supervised. When you cannot supervise him, put him back in his room.

Active House Training

The most important thing you can do to make house training happen as quickly as possible is to reward and praise your puppy every time he goes in the right place. The more times he is rewarded, the quicker he will learn. Therefore it's important that you spend as much time as possible with your pup and give him regular and frequent access to his toilet area.

The Key To Successful House Training

Consistency and Patience. Never scold or punish your puppy for mistakes and accidents. The older your pup gets, the more he will be able to control his bladder and bowels. Eventually your pup will have enough control that he will be able to "hold it" for longer and longer periods of time. Let your puppy do this on his own time. When training is rushed, problems usually develop. Don't forget, most puppies are not reliably house trained until they are at least 6 months old.




We like to meet with the prospective new families.  If you live out of town we can do an assessment over the phone as well, or on the internet.  We have over 200 Canadian contacts that may be able to help in you location.

We discuss you family needs, your desires and your patience level.  Then we take it from there.  I like to match a personality, or type of person.

Puppies/Kitties go out under a strict legally binding spay/neuter contract, with All Heart Pet Rescue being co-owner of the dog until the procedure is done.  Our rescue will enforce a time limit in order to have the procedure complete. 

Each pet that leaves our rescue will come back into our rescue if for any reason the adoption is not working out. 

Out of town families wishing to adopt will arrange transportation at their own expense for their new pet. 

If you are interested in adopting a pet, please  fill in our application form.

Terms of Use | Hosted by KEYNETZ © 1997-2010. All rights reserved