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Transitioning to a New Home

FROM SHELTER DOG TO COMPANION: The transition from shelter dog to family member can be difficult for some dogs. This guide should help make the process smoother.

In the Beginning

You should be following the two-week acclimation period. To 
recap: for the first two weeks that your dog is home, he should either be crated or 
supervised when he is out of the crate. We suggest that his leash be on and he 
should be next to you or within your sight. This may seem excessive or unnecessary, 
but we suggest this because the less freedom he has in the beginning, the less chance 
he has to develop bad habits and behaviors. It is harder to fix an unwanted behavior 
after it has been established than to prevent it from developing in the first place. 

Work is Key!

Making your dog work for things is a good way to start your relationship and will pay 
off in the future. Consider making him sit, stay, or lie down for meals, treats, pets, 
and freedom. Teaching him to sit and wait at an open door before leaving for a walk 
is a great way to build impulse control and trust. Similarly, teaching him to sit at 
every corner when you’re on a walk will go a long way in having a dog who is obedient 
and under control.

Obedience is a Way of Life

We suggest that you and your dog work with a certified professional trainer. Here at 
BARCS, we offer complimentary training for all of our adopted dogs. Whether you 
work with us or an outside trainer, obedience training is the best way to strengthen 
your relationship with your dog. Moreover, once a dog is fully trained, most, if not all, 
nuisance behaviors disappear. To get to that level, training should be fun and a part 
of your dog’s daily life. By making it a lifestyle and not optional, your dog will be 
comfortable with his place in the family and look to you for guidance.

Providing Structure

Shelters are stressful places for dogs for a number of reasons, but one of the most 
upsetting things for them is the lack of a routine: nothing to anchor themselves to. 
Dogs thrive when they have a predictable schedule, which is why it’s important to 
start from day one with reliable meal times, bathroom breaks, and training and 
exercise times.

Have Patience

Dogs learn through repetition, so try not to get frustrated if it’s taking your dog some 
time to master the rules of the home. It will not happen overnight. Indeed, In order 
for a command or rule to become a part of your dog’s everyday life, you will need to 
practice often and with differing levels of distraction.

Need further assistance with a pet displaying unfavorable behaviors? BARCS is here to help! Please email us here for more help with a training or behavior-related issue with your pet.