Fostering Preparation

"When you adopt from an animal shelter, you get the joy and satisfaction of giving a homeless dog a second chance at life. But you may also face some behavior challenges [such as]...

  • Housetraining
  • Socialization
  • Barking
  • Recovery from abuse
  • Health problems
  • Manners
  • Household changes


"Assume that your new dog isn't housetrained...

"Every hour, on the hour, take her to her bathroom spot, on leash. When she goes, say "Yes!" and give her a treat. Afterward, give her a short period of relative freedom -- 15 to 20 minutes off leash in the same room with you. As she begins to get the idea, give her more freedom and increase the length of time between potty breaks.

"If your dog is an adult male only recently neutered -- or not yet sterilized -- expect marking (leg-lifting). Keep him leashed, tethered, crated, or baby-gated in the same room with you, under your direct supervision (see Housetraining for more ideas).


"If your [rescue dog] is poorly socialized and over the age of 16 weeks, you face a tough challenge... You can help this dog, but she may always remain cautious (see Socialization for more ideas).


"Sadly, some shelter dogs have been physically abused... A dog that ducks when you raise your hand.. cowers when you sweep the floor.. shies away when you move your foot...

"When you identify the triggers that make your new dog uncomfortable, slowly help her overcome her fears, using delicious treats to change her association with those triggers from negative to positive...

Separation Anxiety

"Shelters encounter a high number of dogs with separation anxiety... The trauma and stress of being abandoned and housed in a shelter.. Also, dogs with separation anxiety are more likely to be surrendered by their owners...

"..take a few days off work to help her adjust.. Get her used to your absences slowly (see Separation Anxiety for more ideas).

Good Manners

"Establish house rules from the moment she arrives... [Otherwise] you'll confuse her and make it harder for her to follow the rules..

Household Changes

"Management tools like covered garbage cans and baby gates [and crates] can keep her out of forbidden places [and avoid temptation]... (see Food Dangers and Crates for more information)...

"All dogs can benefit from training classes. The sooner you enroll yours in a well-run, positive training class, the better" (Miller, Pat. "Starting From Scratch: Help For Training Your Adopted Dog." Dog Fancy, Feb. 2004, 18).

Colby Glass, MLIS