When Dogs Change Masters

It doesn't take long for your second-hand dog to become your best pal.
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Dogs change masters for many reasons, often through no fault of their own. Your dog's former person might have become ill or died, or gave up his pet dog for financial or personal reasons. With love and care, it won't be long until you and your new dog bond.


Try to get as much information about your new dog as possible. If you're taking in a dog from a friend or relative, that might not be difficult, but dogs adopted from shelters often come with little history. If they're strays, they have no history at all. If you're reluctant to take in a dog you know little about, consider adopting from a rescue group that fosters dogs before rehoming. An experienced dog foster can tell you about the animal's behavior in her home. That can clue you in on whether the dog is housebroken and gets along with other pets or kids, along with other information you need before bringing the dog into your life.


If your dog came with his own, established name -- not something he was called briefly by a shelter or foster -- think twice before changing it. That's especially true if he readily responds to it. If you really don't like the name, consider changing it to one with a similar sound. If your new dog needs a name change, get him accustomed to it by carrying treats with you. Call the new name, giving him a treat and lots of praise when you get a positive response. Many dogs operate on the "I don't care what you call me, just don't call me Late for Dinner" principle.

Bringing Him Home

Set your new dog up to succeed. If possible, have someone in your household take time off work for a week or so to stay with the dog. Canines like routines, so start one with your new friend. Try to take him for walks and feed him at the same times every day. When you're out of the house, keep him in a crate or confine him to a small area where he can't get into trouble. Don't give him the run of the house until you know he's reliably housebroken and not destructive. Put an identification tag on his collar immediately in case he gets loose. Keep things quiet the first few days as he settles in. Friends and family might want to visit your new buddy, but wait until he's become somewhat acclimated before exposing him to people or pooches.

Give Him Time

While some dogs take a new person and new home in stride, others take a while to adjust. It could also take time for your dog's true personality to come through -- that's when he feels comfortable and part of the household. If your dog has training issues, sign him up for an obedience class and practice with him. Not only does it make him a better dog, it creates a bond between you. When you see those big brown eyes looking up at you with extreme devotion, you know he's your dog and he loves his person.

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