Hints for Helping Your Shelter Dog Feel Like a Dear Family Pet


Have you always wanted a pet?  Welcoming an animal in your happy home is a noble gesture, and deciding to rescue an animal from a shelter is even more kind.  Hundreds to thousands of dogs are in need of a home, and once you choose one of them, it’s time to ensure it feels safe and secure.


House Rules


Dogs coming from a shelter may not be as easy to train.  In some instances, you may have to untrain them, making them forget what it was like at the shelter as you teach them of expectations regarding their new home.  Also, it’s important all family members be consistent about where the dog eats, sleeps, plays, and how it behaves (including table manners).  Be patient in allowing the dog to acclimate to its new surroundings as it becomes a regular part of the family.


The New Dog


Just as older siblings act differently toward a newborn, you’ll have to monitor how other dogs (or any pet) in the family will react to the new addition.  At first, it may be best to keep pets separated as you slowly allow them time to get acquainted.  There is no hard rule about how long it takes for the animals to get used to one another, so it’s important to notice body language and any triggers preceding a squabble.  Rather than give attention when there is a negative interaction, redirect them as you condition them to realize good things occur when the other animal is around.  Also, it’s important to avoid notions of favoritism as you give equal attention to each pet.  If you buy dog Christmas ornaments for example, make sure the family cat feels loved and gets represented with decor too.


Dog and Children


Many children love dogs and have no problems welcoming a new pet in the house.  However, some children are skittish around animals, which could make the animal more aggressive toward a scared child.  Conversely, some children are too brazen in approaching a dog, pulling its tail, hugging the animal to hard, or even trying to ride a larger dog like a horse.  Of course, you need to help a child find balance as far as being comfortable yet appropriate around the animal. Teach your child how to be the dog’s master while respecting the dog’s space and right to be happy and healthy.


Chew Time


You will not and should not suppress your dog’s want and need to chew.  And, it’s naive to think your dog will be able to successfully decide on its chew toy each time it has the impulse.  Rather than punish or be disappointed, work on a few things.  For example, don’t allow your dog to play with discarded items, such as a milk carton.  How will the dog distinguish when it’s appropriate to play with a full versus empty milk carton?  Rather, play with your dog along with the toys to get them excited about the object.  Also, buy toys that can be stuffed with food.  Exercise your dog regularly to lessen the amount of time it feels rambunctious and full of energy.


Annette Henderson has devoted most of her working life to animal welfare projects. She enjoys the chance to blog about her experiences online. You can find her insights on canine matters across a number of different websites.

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