Training an Adult Dog Adopted From a Shelter

I just got a German Shepherd/Husky from the local animal shelter. She is less than two years old. I was actually looking for a puppy, but saw this dog and just fell in love with her. So I adopted the dog but am waiting for the animal society to finish with the sterilization and inspection before they hand her over. I can't wait so excited.

I just have a few questions and due to work, can't get to shelter for two days. How difficult is it gonna be to train her now, given how old she is? She did seem well mannered but silly me didn't ask about her history at the time (I've made a list now for when I go back). I'm nervous or excited but just don't know what exactly to expect. Please help, I wanna be prepared and make her feel at home when she arrives

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Nazley from SA

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February 14, 20080 found this helpful

First, B-R-A-V-O to you for adopting a dog instead of a puppy!!!!! So many wonderful animals never find homes because they aren't cute and new enough.

Well, the old saying is around for a reason, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." However, around 2 yrs old isn't too old. Especially since German Shepards/Huskies are such smart dogs. AND, since the you said the dog is sweet, it probably doesn't have past physical abuse issues that would make it hard to train.

SO, the two most important things are have patience and be consistant. There's a good chance the dog won't pick up on "sit" or "heel" right away, especially after moving to a brand new home. But with patience and consistancy, the animal should eventually pick up on what you're trying to teach it.

Use a gentle touch and clear verbal and physical signs. Like, always say "sit", not sometimes "sit" and somethings "sit down" or so on. Try giving hand signals too, giving a visual sign of what you are asking the animal to do.

One word of advice, German Shepards can sometimes have major hip problems when they get really old. So just be prepared for that being a possibility someday. Most dog breeds have one major health problem that can come up, it just depends on which one for which breed, so it's nothing against German Shepards.

However because of the Shepard and Husky, this is really not a good dog to think about kenneling. I'll admit I don't like kenneling, I hate it when I see a friends dog locked up in a small box all day. But with shepards hip problems and huskies high energy, kenneling would be torture for that poor dog. Remember huskies are one of the breeds used in dog sledding, so they really can have tons of strength and energy.

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February 14, 20080 found this helpful

German shepherds are smart dogs. They will train and learn easily. I owned a german shepherd and she would lift each paw when she entered the house after a potty break outdoors. That was not what I was trying to get her to do, just a habit that formed from repeatedly following through with this action and she picked up on it and did it willingly. A very good dog. Give your dog time to adjust to its new environment and don't rush it. Let the dog make up with you first so trust is developed.

The rest is E-Z-P-Z.

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February 15, 20080 found this helpful

I have adopted several adult dogs from the local humane society and had success with all of them. They are very appreciative of any kindness shown to them and are anxious to please you. If he gives you trouble at first, please be patient with him - remember, he has been traumatized by his experiences in the past. God bless you for adopting a grown dog!

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February 18, 20080 found this helpful

Congrats on the dog!

Make sure you start the training with a very consistent schedule of feeding and long brisk walks. Letting the dog out into a yard by them self is not enough exercise no matter how big your yard is.

It doesn't matter what side the dog walks on as long as they do not lead you. You have to be the leader. It will take you one or two walks to learn how far you normally need to walk the dog before they have "to go".

Regardless, you still need to give the dog a good 40+ minutes of walking every day; preferably in the morning so they are actually a little tired when you leave for work.

This will do more for the dog's happiness, socialization and good behavior than any amount of training can ever do.

Give the dog clear instructions on what toys are theirs and clean up everything that isn't. It's easy for a stressed dog to chew the wrong thing the first few days in a new home.

Unless you catch the dog in the act of doing something wrong; do not scold them. They will have no idea why you are correcting them; even if you think they're looking guilty. Just clean up whatever's been done as if nothing happened and try to think of ways to prevent the act from occurring in the future.

It's tempting but don't run out and buy tons of cutie toys. You have no idea what toys the dog will be interested in. Start with some pig ears, a kong toy (where you hide treats inside) and a variety of dog biscuits. Some dogs will play with rubber toys and some won't touch them.

Try leaving the dog alone for small test periods of time before going a full day at work. Try getting the dog used to their own sleeping area with specific comforter or dog bed on the floor. I prefer the blankets cause they're so easy to clean.

Never use the dog's name in a scolding tone. Use another word or sound for all corrections. Be confident and pleasant when you call the dog. The most important command you'll have will be getting the dog to come to you and whatever correction command/tone you find most effective.

Last but not least; if you name the dog, pick something you won't be embarrassed to yell out in public as you're running down the street after the dog. You'd be amazed how many people pick a name but refrain from using it when they need it the most because they feel foolish screaming it out in front of strangers!

Good luck and enjoy it all! Especially the exercise you both will be getting!

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February 19, 20080 found this helpful

I have had animals from cats, dogs to horses, growing up in a rural environment. Most important thing your dog will need is ADEQUATE EXERCISE. Let her get tired, walk her twice a day--she cannot pay attention if she is not exercised. Esp. a dog of that breed mix - those two breeds are working breeds and they need to work, training will have more success if she has a thorough exercise program in place.

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February 26, 20080 found this helpful

Thank you everyone for all the helpful advice. Just an update on our progress. Chelsea(our dog's name) is doing just fine now. The first two days, she didn't eat alot and was kinda scared of us. But know she has crept out of her shell, digging up the yard, scratching at the door when she hears us moving around in the house. She stays outside and hasn't had any problems with that. I've made her a nice comfy place under our carpark, but she prefers lying on the yard. She also takes her food bowl with her so it's next to her nap place, which at the moment is a different spot every night. Anyone know what that's about?

Oh she barks now, but still very little. She is not aggressive at all and allows everyone to pet her. I'm a little worried about that cause I don't want her to be too familiar with just anyone. But thus far only family and friends have been over and you should see her. At first she seems a bit anxious and scared, but after some coaxing, she like running after them almost like "pet me pet me". She is very well behaved and I think she probably had some training before, because she knows "Sit", "No" and "Go" commands and loves our little walks. Although I find she's scared of cars and people when were on our walks and not really sure how to handle that. I just praise her and pet her and she seems ready to move continue walking. She loves children so I think she was probably exposed to some where she came from and like it when they play the chasing game. That said, the kids aren't there all the time (we don't have our own yet), so mostly I'm left to running around the yard chasing her. hahahaha It's alot of fun, tiring, but fun. :)

See the picture of ou Chelsea. I'm so glad we got her.

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