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Common Issues with Shelter Dogs

Albuquerque Rescue vetAdopting a dog is a great way to add a fur baby to your family. But sometimes there are some issues that can come with a shelter dog. Being aware of these issues will make it easier for them to transition into your family.

Anxiety and Fear

From the streets to the shelter to your home. That is a lot of change for one dog. Your new dog probably doesn’t know if this new home is good, or bad, or temporary. He is stressed out because he doesn’t know.

The best way to deal with it is time and patience. Give them a place to hide, like a crate or a box. Don’t try to make them come out and socialize. Your new dog will do that in his own time, I promise.

Food Aggression

Your dog may have had to fight to eat at the shelter or on the street. Sometimes this can make them aggressive during meal time, like snarling, barking, even biting you or another dog. It will take a bit of time for him to learn that his food is his own.  The easiest way to solve this is to put his food in a seperate area, like a crate or bathroom, so he can eat in private. Do not disturb him until he is done. In time, he will realize that you are not going to steal his food.


Guarding and territoriality

Guarding is a “street” behavior. Your dog is protecting his “thing.” That “thing” might be a toy, or a bed, or even you. He may try to guard you from another dog or even from another person. The best fix for this is behavioral training. If he gets territorial, remove the “thing” he is being territorial about. If it is you, then take him off your lap or stop playing with him, to reinforce that the behavior is not acceptable. Once it stops, reinforce with pats and love, to reinforce the good behavior.

Leg Lifting

Some dogs will try to mark their territory when they get into a new space. This is not the same as not being house trained. If they start doing this you can spray them with a water bottle. This won’t hurt them but can help stop the behavior. Make sure to use Natures Miracle to clean up any marking. It has an enzyme that breaks down the urine so it won’t continue to have ordor or stains.

Separation Anxiety

Often dogs from the shelters have separation anxiety. They may bark, chew, or destroy parts of the house. There are ways to help address this anxiety, giving them a place like a crate, to sleep during the day, giving them toys to play with, putting on doggie tv for them to watch, and playing with them a lot when you get home. Speak to your veterinarian about assistance with their anxiety.

Shelter dogs are amazing additions to your family. But when you first adopt you need to be patient as there can be transition time. But it is time well invested.


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8200 Menaul Blvd NE #R Albuquerque, NM 87110 Phone: (505) 292-3030

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The information provided on this website is written by Vetco staff. All information is meant to be informational and is not meant as veterinary advice. If you have a health question regarding your pet, their treatment or anything concerning their veterinary care, please call Vetco to consult with a veterinarian.