Introducing a Rescue dog to your home


When introducing a Rescue dog or Shelter dog to your home it is important to remember not to listen to your instincts.  As a human being in today’s society your instincts are probably wrong, greatly dulled, or, from excessive TV watching and or drooling over your stupid phone, just plain non-existent! The common person’s instincts when it comes to dealing with nervous, anxious, aggressive, excitable, hyper, dominant, or an otherwise imbalanced dog are, in the main, dead wrong.  A plethora of rescue dogs have serious issues that come out a couple weeks after being in the new home!

And believe me, you may think your new rescue dog is a, “real lover” (meaning the dog constantly loves to receive attention and be patted or pet by you and gets up on your lap, or stays right by your side, or licks/kisses you often) but to me that’s a clear warning sign…Proceed with caution!


Most rescue dogs are on their very best behavior when they are put into a new home.  Keep this in mind and enjoy the short interlude (honeymoon phase) because after three or four weeks (sometimes sooner) of living and getting accustom to the home environment the poor owner is suddenly confounded and befuddled when their, “precious, lovable, new, furry, family member,” decides to growl at someone in order to claim something in the house, or suddenly develops housebreaking issues, or is acting more nervous and fearful by the day, or starts to bark or guard the front door from any and all visitors and loved ones, or starts to act insane on leash, or, perhaps the most sinister of all, just starts to slowly but deliberately dominate and manipulate any and all things to his/her doggy advantage! (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)  Many dogs do this before the human is even aware of what’s going on!  Soon the dog has out-touched, out-maneuvered, and in general just outdone the human being.  The dog has built a relationship that wasn’t based on respect with the new owner and a wise person would Not trust that dog.

You thought you had a, “real lover” on your hands and so you decided to keep up the constant petting, baby talk, and giving of treats to bribe your way into a cozy relationship with your new rescue dog… you didn’t realize you were feeding and reinforcing a state of mind probably dominated by Fear and manipulation.  You were unaware how intelligent and manipulative this furry creature could be.  This happens on a daily basis across the world and I see it everyday in my business with the dogs!  My third book on dog behavior (coming out 2019) is all about Shelter/Rescue dogs and the incredibly critical first few weeks they are brought into the new home!  Keep a sharp eye out for it and, in the meantime, read Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety (available on Amazon and everywhere else) they will truly help you understand the dog language and see where the dog training industry and the dog rescue industry has gone off the rails!

Emotional decision or Logical decision?

The human, after seeing a singing Sarah Mclachlan commercial and feeling awful (weak energy!) goes out and decides to make a difference in at least one animal’s life.  And then the downward spiral of manipulation begins.  The person didn’t even know the dog was that fearful until something in the environment finally triggers the fear.  Or, if the new owner did recognize the fear they do the one thing to make it infinitely worse and give the fearful mind what it wants…the ability to remain fearful!  They let the dog use them as a comfort blankey 24/7!  The rescue dog then continues and often increases the use of unsocial fight/flight habits mixed with escalated out of control energy levels.  Another common mistake that new rescue owners make is their fixation on frivolous dog training tricks like sit or stay.  While sit and stay are fine commands to teach the dog please do NOT be fooled, they are nothing in comparison to the value of healthy relationship based in respect, trust, clear communication, proper dog language – which entails correct energy levels, proper positioning of the physical body, and the ever important, who is touching who and how that touch is being applied!  Most dog training falls utterly short of what is really important to our dogs and to our bonding properly with them.

Here are some Don’t and Dos that will really help you…

Don’t label and keep the “rescue dog” as a victim for very long.  Let the dog move on…basically Don’t live in the past and use weak energy with your dog.  Almost any and every single rescue dog owner I’ve ever met with fails horribly in this regard and, if we’re being honest here, psychologically handicaps their new dog from having a healthy future (See my other post on, “Dealing with a fearful dog.”)

Don’t let the dog smell the whole house.  Why would I give the new rescue dog access to the whole house?  The dog should earn access to more rooms and levels of your home after a number of weeks.

Don’t let the dog constantly use you as a comfort blanket and Don’t let it always touch you or “love” on you.  This is probably the most important on the list!!!

Don’t let the new rescue sleep in your bed or any humans’ bed.  This can quickly lead to behavioral issues as many dogs may soon start to claim certain spots or the whole bed itself as their own.


This is Cato our Pitbull/Cane Corso mix. He is a rescue and will be featured in my upcoming book on rescue dogs!

Do exercise the hell out of the dog.  This is a great time to show leadership (work the heel position), drain energy, release stress, bond as a pack, and explore and socialize with your new companion.  Take the dog everywhere and also have people over as guests in your home during the honeymoon phase.  Set the tone.

Do make the dog work for praise, affection and it’s breakfast sometimes.  I said sometimes because flexibility is what we are after.  Dogs can be fantastic adapters but only if you help them along the way.

Do make it clear that any and all humans are the owners of everything in the dog’s life including the dog’s own body!  This is a very important “do.”

Do follow this blog and please tell your family and friends to do so too for more excellent and enlightening info!

And above all else…DO DO DO DO drop what you’re doing and order my book(s) on dog and human behavior!  They are completely unique to what is being taught by the mainstream dog training industry and because of that – The info contained within my books will make you wildly successful with your dogs!  Here is the link to the first one

Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You! by Garrett Stevens

This book will forever alter the way you look at dogs and pups (in a great way).  It will help anyone with any aged dog with a plethora of doggy problems.  Dog Myths is an absolute necessity for someone with a rescue dog.  Order two or three because after you read the first chapter you’ll want to give it and share it with others in your life!  While you’re at it grab my second book, SO LONG SEPARATION ANXIETY and in this way prevent or reverse anxiety in your new shelter dog!

Feel free to leave questions or comments.  If your rescue is fearful or aggressive read my other post entitled “Dealing with a fearful dog.”  Remember to go to my business website for some great products that can truly help you and your new pooch!  Our training collar will change your life.

Thanks much



9 thoughts on “Introducing a Rescue dog to your home

  1. JoAnn Finley

    i wish I had your input 6 years ago when I adopted my Bear. We through a ton of aggression issues and yes, bites. You name it and it was him. I suffered many bites from him and almost gave up a few times but knew if I did that he wouldn’t be adoptable and would most likely be euthanized. Today, while not perfect he’s not aggressive towards me (thank goodness) but he’s still aggressive towards other people and dogs when they come near me (but when we’re out for a walk he’ll pass by them with no issues). Anyways, I just got another dog that needed a home and amazingly he’s tolerant of her and while not “cuddly” they get along. Anyways..I just wanted to say i love what you do and love that you give families a second chance! I would give my Bear up for the world! 🙂

    • Good work, JoAnn. I know what it’s like dealing with getting bit! They hit you with more than just teeth…there is quite some energy behind a bite! Glad you are making progress with Bear. Keep it up! -G

  2. Michelle Fisher

    My uncle had 10 dogs that only knew him and his backyard their entire 5 years of life. He is in hospice and I found an awesome rescue that took all his dogs. The two “omega” females are extremely frightened. They don’t growl or bite; they are more “shut down”. One acts like a limp rag doll that has to be lifted up to stand. They like walks but go back into balls with tails and legs hidden, heads facing walls, when they return. The one being fostered with a mellow dog seems to be adjusting better than the one fostered alone. Any ideas on how to help them would be appreciated!

    • Michelle,

      Thank you so much for the comments and question. There are many things that can help them “come out of their shells quicker” one of the main ones being NEVER COMFORT FEAR! If we can all remember that above all else dog bites and dog anxiety and dog fear and phobias would no longer be on the rise (and currently over the past 10 years aggression and fear IS on the Rise!) All dogs and pups need Socialization with a bit of calm structure coming from the parent/leader/owner. The 3 options for training I teach our clients are 1. Ignoring and Reverse Psychology 2. Addressing (claiming and calming the natural way) 3. Redirecting Use these three options on any dog throughout the day and you’ll be getting to a nice balanced relationship in no time. Knowing when to ignore, when to address, when to redirect is more complicated but follow your gut instincts and when in doubt ask yourself What Would the Mother Dog Do? Imagine a creature that has amazing instincts. Now imagine she has incredible social intelligence. Now picture how she would raise numerous large litters over the years. The mother dog is our primary example of calmness, energy control, and spatial control. She knows how to ignore the little things and when to address the rude behavior of her pups. She balances respect and trust and builds and expert foundation of clear communication within her family/pack. Keep up the good work, Michelle. -G

  3. Michelle Fisher

    This is from one of the foster moms: “Curly is slowly opening up. Before I had to pick her up and put her on her feet to get her to go for a walk now she comes on her own with a few tugs on her leash. She prefers to stay in the bathroom or the kitchen but she looks more relax while she’s laying there. She no longer flinches when I pet her, and I think she might enjoy it. Her tail is more relaxed when we walk and she enjoys short little jogs. A kid with a ball ran out in front of us this evening and she freaked out and tried to run away. She also shakes really bad when I bring her into the center of my very small apartment though she’s getting more curious and sniffing around before retreating to the corner.
    I haven’t brought her to work yet. I was thinking about trying Thursday because that’s a shorter day for me.”

    • Socialize, Socialize, Socialize. Expose the dogs social “muscle” to new little stresses. Remember without pressure, without the right stress coal never becomes a diamond, muscles never grow bigger and stronger with proper tension. Expose them to all manner of differing outings and visitors. When a dog is terrified or very nervous we still Must take charge but I balance that with the utmost calmness and relaxation. Teaching the heel is a marvelous idea because it means they cannot hide behind the handler and they cannot lead the way in front of the handler but must walk beside and following the handlers lead. Then lead them into the wide and wonderful world.

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