Canine Care Tips for Rehabilitating a Shelter Dog

Adopting a shelter dog is a rewarding experience. There are many homeless dogs in shelters that make great family dogs. Sometimes a shelter dog will need a little help from his new owner to help him recover from the trauma of losing his previous home and going through the shelter experience. Unfamiliar and unpredictable circumstances are difficult for many dogs and may cause them to have minor behavioral issues that can be remedied quite easily with some consistency and patience on the part of the adoptive family.

Prepare in Advance

Get your home ready for your new dog. Decide where you will want your dog to stay when you are asleep or away from the house. A crate is usually the best place for your dog when he is not being supervised, especially during the first few weeks. Purchase bowls for food and water, a leash and collar and plenty of toys and safe things to chew. Be sure all toxic household items are safely put away. It is a good idea to establish a relationship with a veterinarian, a trainer and a dog daycare or pet sitter even if you do not need these services right away. Planning in advance will help you create the stable and consistent environment your shelter dog will need to become a happy, confident family dog.

Establish Rules from Day One

Begin teaching your shelter dog about his new home the moment he arrives. Take him to the area you wish him to use to relieve himself as soon as he gets out of the car. Praise him when he successfully goes in the desired location. Show him his toys and his sleeping area. If you have adopted your new dog over a weekend or vacation from work, his feeding and exercise schedule should resemble what they will be like once you return to your normal schedule. Your dog should spend some time alone for brief periods. It can be very upsetting to your new dog to spend every moment with you and then one day have you vanish in the morning. Allow him to get used to the idea that you go away and also come back. Do not allow your dog to go into areas that he is not allowed in, or do things that he will not be allowed to do in the future such as begging or getting on furniture. There is no need to punish these behaviors, gently correcting him or removing him from tempting circumstances will usually remedy these issues.

Train Your Shelter Dog

Teach your new dog basic obedience commands. Many shelter dogs have had some training, but not all training programs use the same methods or vocabulary. Establish a new set of phrases and body communications that you and your dog will both know. Understanding what is being asked of him and knowing how to respond appropriately will build your dog's confidence and self-esteem. If your dog enjoys being around other dogs, you may consider a group class. This is a fun way to learn obedience, have some social time with other dogs and for you to get to know other dog owners.