Tips for New Owners of Adult Shelter Dogs
Bringing home a dog from the shelter can be very rewarding. Often times though, you may not see the true personality or temperament until your new pet has been in your home several weeks. It’s important that during these first few weeks (sometimes called the “honeymoon period”) trust is built and an appropriate relationship established. “Impulse control and deference” exercises will help a shelter dog feel more secure and confident in his new environment. Positive methods should be used to teach your dog house manners and to look to you for guidance and permission. Lots of play and exercise will help your new dog relieve the stress involved with his relocation.
Some dogs coming out of shelters will have to deal with stressors or fears that can result in inappropriate behaviors. These can be anything from lunging on walks, resource guarding, fear of strangers or other dogs resulting in aggression, to shyness or timidity which prevents the dog from having a full, active life.
A specific behavior modification program should be put in place for these dogs. Behavior modification programs often include desensitization and counter-conditioning. They should not include punishment or physical corrections of any kind. It is important that you consult with a trainer or behaviorist with experience in behavior modification programs and is willing to work with you long term. With the right treatment plan, these dogs can become great family companions.