Tilly’s Tales: A Shelter Dog Blog
More than 11 years ago, my husband, Mike, and I rescued Trista, our bicolor Shepherd, from a northern New Jersey shelter. After years of having her as our constant companion, we had to say goodbye to her in January and a terrible void was left behind. When little Tilly, a Shepherd puppy, became available at the Pennsylvania SPCA, she seemed an angel sent by Trista to usher us into our next dog chapter.
As a shelter trainer, I counsel people every day on how to help recently adopted dogs acclimate to their new life and how to solve emerging behavior challenges. But even I was surprised at how time-consuming, how labor-intensive, and just how challenging adopting a puppy can be! Frankly it’s been a rude awakening, with discoveries, frustrations, and lessons learned. Mike and I spend much of our day attending to puppy training and a grueling exercise regimen. Fortunately, there has also been lots of play and love! And I know that, once the right habits and routines are established, life will even out and our newest family member will become our constant canine companion.
If you’re thinking about adopting a new dog into your family, here are some tips, fresh from our household:
- Introduce new people, animals, and experiences gradually.
- Allowing a new dog too much freedom will allow her to develop bad habits that then need to be changed. Instead, start with the most restrictions, and, as your pooch proves that she can make good choices, then you can grant her more privileges.
- Be aware of the honeymoon period, the first days and weeks after your dog joins your home, when her behavior is inhibited as she adjusts to her new life.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of the crate. The crate will be the safest place for you to institute these limits and allow your pup to gain her footing in your household.
- Watch for problem behaviors as your dog gets comfortable and starts to experiment with limits and boundaries and express her doggy-ness. Don’t wait and hope these behaviors will disappear on their own – they won’t. Institute training immediately.
If you’d like help, consider a PSPCA group class such as Puppy Kindergarten or Basic Training. Click here to learn more about our classes, or call (215) 426-6300 ext. 266.
As Tilly, Mike, and I navigate these and other challenges, I hope you’ll visit this site and share our adventures.