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So You've Adopted a Shelter Dog

For free behavior & training advice,  

call us at 845.687.7619


Changing the name of your new dog

Sometimes adopting a dog means adopting a dog with a name you don't particularly like. Actually, it's easy for your newly adopted dog to learn a new name, even a name completely dissimilar to his previous name. A dog or puppy of any age can learn a brand-new name within a few days. Here's how:

  • decide on any new name you wish for your newly adopted pet

  • for the first few days, carry a pocketful of treats

  • every once in a while, and also specifically when you do want your dog's attention, call out his new name and then immediately smile, praise heartily, and feed a treat

  • even if he doesn't turn to look at you when you call out the name, do the above anyway, and soon he will know that hearing that word means great things are coming, and he will respond as if that word is his own!


The keys to training your dog to eliminate outside (where you want her to) are:

  1. to prevent accidents and

  2. to reward success.


Adult dogs have better bladder and bowel control and can 'hold it' for a longer period of time than puppies. The rule of thumb with puppies is: take their age in months, add one, and that's the number of hours the puppy can 'hold it' during the day. For example, a 4-month-old puppy can be expected to be clean for up to 5 hours during the day.

  • Feed your dog on a schedule. Then she'll eliminate on a schedule, too.

  • Keep her diet simple and consistent. Avoid table scraps and canned foods; a high quality dry kibble produces the least waste.

  • Choose an area, about ten square feet, outside, where you wish your dog to potty.

  • Take your dog on leash to the area, pace back and forth (movement promotes your dog’s need “to go”) and chant an encouraging phrase ("do your business, do your business …").

  • Do this for maximum 3 minutes:

  • if she eliminates, huge praise and play

  • if she doesn't eliminate, keep her on leash, go back indoors, keep your dog on leash with you or confined in a crate.

  • Try again in an hour.

  • Eventually your dog will eliminate appropriately, and you will give huge praise and play.

  • After each success, allow 15 minutes of freedom in house, before placing dog back on lead or back into crate.

  • After each 3 consecutive days of success, increase freedom by 15 minutes.

  • If there is an accident; decrease freedom by 15 minutes for 3 days

  • Do not punish accidents! Ignore them, take your dog out more frequently to prevent them, and REWARD SUCCESS!

For Parents: What to Watch out

Consult a trainer or behaviorist or call the free behavior helpline at Animals for Adoption, if you observe any of the following behaviors in your new dog: 

  • Watch out if your dog uses his mouth in play or to move or control the child. Any dog over 5 months of age should not be using his mouth to play, and is probably not playing, but actually trying to control or dominate humans with his teeth, no matter how gentle your dog appears to be.

  • Watch out if your dog cuts in between you and your child during hugging or engaging in any affectionate interactions. This can indicate jealousy, or rank aggression, or guarding of you, the owner.

  • "Let sleeping dogs lie" is a saying created by someone who really knew dogs. Teach and never allow your children, (or visiting children), to startle, awaken or hug a sleeping dog. Also, dogs by nature are grouchier and testier at night, or in the evenings, and if your dog drops off into a heavy sleep in the evenings, put her away in another private room, or encourage her into a crate, so that you can prevent the possibility of a child startling or waking the dog.

  • Watch for any growling, whether in play or not. Dogs never growl for any other reason except to warn us of biting. So often owners have commented that their dog growled all the time, and were shocked when it finally bit someone, having believed that the growling meant the dog would never bite. Growling is never a vocalization a dog makes just to "talk." Dogs don't "talk" by growling. They growl to let us know that they need help, as they are warning us they may bite.

  • Watch for combinations of events. For example, your dog may be fine if approached by your child while chewing on a rawhide, and, on separate occasions, may be fine when approached and hugged while resting on your couch. But your dog may growl or even bite when approached and hugged by your child at times he is laying on the couch chewing a bone. Another example: your dog may be fine being hugged by your child in general, and your dog may be fine when held by the collar and restrained from chasing the family or cat or bolting out the front door. But your dog may growl, snap or bite when hugged while being restrained, feeling keyed up or feeling frustrated.


Using ICA

Animals for Adoption is a member of Independent Charities of America (ICA), and many employers will match your charitable donation.


Make a donation in any amount directly to Animals for Adoption using any major

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By Mail

To donate by check,

please mail it to:


4628 Route 209

Accord, NY 12404

For Volunteers

We need volunteers to:

  • take dogs to the vet

  • socialize puppies

  • take dogs to training classes

  • walk & play with shelter dogs

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