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Dog giving a high five


Helping owners identify the special needs to help rescue dogs thrive in their new surroundings. This page is designed to provide insight, helpful tips, and resources for newly adopted dogs and their forever homes.

Setting your new family member up for success at home.

Public shelters, private rescues, and various non-profit organizations assist in the acquisition, processing, and rehoming of millions of unwanted pets each year. These animals are often the result of relinquishment or abandonment with varying backgrounds and histories. Your new canine family member may have some training and temperamental needs to consider post adoption. Here are a few tips and insights to help adjust to the sweet life: 


Take Your Time. Providing a loving home to a rescue is very rewarding; however make sure to find a dog that suits you lifestyle. Consider exercise needs, health, age, grooming, training, and history when searching for your new companion. Ensure you ask about what type of temperament testing was conducted on any dog you view and spend some time playing with and walking the dog. Be realistic about how much your family can take on and communicate that in order for the rescue to help find you a match. Many owners are keen to welcome a puppy into their home, when many adult or even senior canines could be a more appropriate fit. 


Dog proof your home. Make sure your house is pet friendly by minimizing exposure to electronics, shoes, plants, food, and toxic materials. Destructive chewing and counter surfing can not only be a pain for owners, but cause harm to canines. Consider closing doors or using baby gates and tethers where appropriate when you dog is not under direct supervision. If you are using a crate, make sure it is set up and ready for your new arrival. 


Establish rules and routine early on. Take a moment with all members of your family to discuss what your canine companion is and is not permitted to partake in. Will the dog be allowed on furniture? Are some rooms off limits? What happens if the dog jumps? No chasing the dog! Who will be going on walks? Where do we play? Who will be feeding the dog? Who is in charge of vet visits? Do we need a dog walker? How much grooming does this dog require?  


The honeymoon period. Many rescued animals require a period of 6-8 weeks to fully adapt to their new environment. It is after this time that their full disposition and quirks are often revealed. The key to preventing bad habits is early identification and redirection of unwanted behavior. Ensure you are aware of your dog’s development over the first couple of months in order to reward and encourage a confident, social, and mannered canine. Ask yourself: Is he becoming overly clingy? Has vocalization escalated? Does the dog seem anxious? Has he become defensive? Is he weary of strangers? Do other dogs seem to trigger him? 


Take your time with a multi-dog household. Whether you have one or a multitude of other dogs sharing your home, a slow and structured transition will foster harmony. Begin by introducing dogs on neutral ground to prevent resource guarding or territorial behavior. Allow 2-3 seconds of sniffing and greeting on-leash, then redirect each dog for a short break. This can be repeated multiple times in order to allow the dogs to become acquainted without over-stimulation or cause for inappropriate behavior. Next take a walk with both dogs prior to bringing your new member inside the home. If you have more than one other dog you may need to repeat with each member. 


When to seek further assistance. If things get overwhelming and you feel like you are at your wits end, do not hesitate to contact a certified trainer or behaviorist to assist in helping you decode your canine. Gaining perspective can help you successfully reach short and long term goals with your canine. Having the right tools, strategies, and teaching mechanisms can help ensure a long and rewarding relationship. 



  • Assess your family, household, and lifestyle before viewing prospective companions. Know your limitations when it comes to: energy level, age, grooming, exercise requirements, and training. Only you know what you are realistically able to take on. 

  • But, do you really need a puppy? Many potential adopters idealize the concept that "raising them from a puppy" will magically prevent all potential problems or temperament concerns. This is false. In the majority of cases an adult dog is a more suitable candidate for most families. 

  • Breed listed is no guarantee. As soon as a dog is mixed-breed, there is no guarantee without genetic testing as to whether or not a dog contains a specific breed (or not). 

    A dog can inherit specific traits from one breed, characteristics from another, a combination of both, all breeds, or none - due to the random combination of genetics.

    Instead of worrying about breed, look at the characteristics of each individual candidate (size, coat, temperament, etc) and ask if THIS dog is suitable for you. For dogs suspect of working, hound, or terrier influence, be prepared to adjust your lifestyle to the needs of an active dog with high drive. 


  • Stop trolling social media and adoption posts for "the one". By cruising through listings and "falling in love" with a picture, you are projecting an idealized fantasy of all your hopes and dreams for your new buddy - without having even met the dog yet. Sure, you can like and interview for a given dog - however, do not let a photograph adeter you from taking further consideration as to whether or not this dog is an ideal fit. 


  • Provide extensive written assessments of adoptable dog candidates including observations on behavior issues (anxiety, fear, aggression, resource guarding, etc), motivation (toy, praise, food, etc), and energy level 

  • Consider: IS THIS DOG RIGHT FOR THIS FAMILY? Instead of "is this home right for this dog?" by helping owners select a dog based on their needs, we can minimize return rates and ensure dogs remain in forever homes 

  • Be transparent about potential candidates. It is critical for the proper placement of adopted dogs to ensure the energy level, size, and, and behavioral history is appropriate for the average dog owner. 

  • Set realistic expectations for dogs with behavioral needs and make responsible rehoming choices.

    A dog with separation anxiety is not appropriate for a condo or townhome placement. 

    A dog with dog-dog reactivity is not appropriate for placement in a multi-dog household.

    Any dog with a bite history is not appropriate for a home with children, ever. 

    A dog with extreme anxiety (separation, generalized, or otherwise) may not be ideal for anyone who likes to travel, commutes to work, has an irregular schedule, or is unable or unwilling to commit to lifestyle changes. 

  • Focus on the quality of the placements provided, not the quantity. We can all be impressed by numbers - however, this often means higher return rates and increased potential for mis-matches. 


Journey to a Forever Home
What’s involved in providing a foster home for a homeless pet?

When animals are given up to rescue organizations, usually the ultimate goal is to find permanent homes for them. But a surrendered pet is not always immediately ready to be adopted; he may need some transition time, rehabilitation, or additional training. That is why the foster system in animal rescue is so crucial. Caring, selfless volunteers welcome these discarded pets into their homes and provide for their care for however long it takes for them to be ready for a forever home. Then these amazing people help promote the pet, assess the potential adoptive family to ensure a good fit, and assist in the transition to his new life. 

Rescue organizations are always in need of foster homes for surrendered animals. If you are an animal lover, consider looking into this important way to help. Fostering a pet can be a very rewarding experience, and it literally saves a life. 


If you think you might be interested, consider everything very carefully. It takes a lot of commitment, patience, love, and time. Evaluate your living situation, your lifestyle, and know your limitations and boundaries. Are you willing to be patient while a new dog adapts to their temporary digs? Are your family members on board with this potential endeavor? Some rescues will supply foster volunteers with reimbursements, others will not. Can you afford vet bills, food, grooming, etc. to help out pets in need? 

There are many dogs in need of love out there, some with more issues than others. Are you part of a townhome community or live in a condo? Then fostering a dog who persistently barks and howls because of separation distress may not be a good foster match for you. Do you have little kids in your family? Then you may want to limit yourself to fostering dogs who have been socialized and do well with children. Do you have cats, livestock, or other dogs in the home? Then make sure you are either willing to manage and separate the animals if need be, or limit yourself to animals who have a history of adapting to other pets. 

Consider if you would like to help on a short term basis, or are willing to provide a home for a pet for a longer period of time. Some pets who enter rescue just need a place to crash for the weekend, whereas others need a longer term commitment and more care before they are ready to be adopted. 

Consider your emotions, as well as those of your family, particularly children. Will it be hard to live with and bond with a pet that you will eventually be separated from when they are permanently adopted? Personally, I could handle a dog visiting for a few days, but after a week, it would tear me apart to think of them leaving. So, know your lifestyle, know your limitations, and know your boundaries. 

In many cases, it is possible to permanently adopt your foster pet if you fall in love with them. Some rescues and shelters offer foster-to-adopt programs where you can “test drive” a pet to ensure they are a good fit for your lifestyle prior to making the commitment of permanent adoption. This can be an excellent option for inexperienced pet owners. 

If you are not sure whether fostering is the right way for you to help homeless pets, go ahead and give it a try! Adoption coordinators and other rescue members are eager to help educate potential foster homes, facilitate the process, and provide support. 

Crate Training

Crate training is a critical part of helping your new pup adapt to life at home. Benefits include: 

  • Preventing indoor elimination in the home until a predictable routine is established!

  • Prevent destructive chewing, raiding counters, or getting into trouble!

  • Provides a safe space to decompress and retreat!

  • Provides management opportunities in over-stimulating situations and new introductions 

Working multiple dogs at the same time can seem like a pretty daunting task. Teaching your dog to accept being tethered can be a very useful tool when introducing training concepts to a new arrival. 

Always work each dog individually, before working the dogs together. This way everyone understands the rules before  interacting. 

Reward the newbie for good behaviors while learning, and reward other dogs for settling patiently throughout the process. 

Working 2 Young Dogs

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