Dog Adoption: Positive Reinforcement

dog treat

You will want to prepare your home before your adopted dog arrives and should consider crate training for the first few months too. You will want the dog’s overall behavior to be good to and training for that should start immediately.

You should practice positive reinforcement when training your adopted dog and that begins the moment he or she arrives at your home.


For positive reinforcement, reward your dog the moment he or she does something good.

The reward should be a small food treat. Perhaps a Milk-Bone®. Don’t reward the dog with something that will occupy him or her for a long time. You want them to be good again right away for the chance at another reward.

Mix up the treats so the dog doesn’t become bored with the same food over and over and be sure to say something positive in accompaniment with the treat. Ideas would be “Good dog!”, “Good job!” or “Yes!”.

The timing is important here because you want the dog to correlate the treat with the most recent activity. This means the moment the dog listens to your command you should give the treat before the dog does anything else.

You should also keep the commands very simple. This means you shouldn’t use long sentences or complicated words for commands for your dog. Here are some good words to use for commands:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Heel
  • Etc.

Be consistent. You want the same command to mean the same thing for everyone in your home. The more repetition and consistency the sooner the dog will understand what it means.

The rewards should decrease over time. First, reward good behavior about 80% of the time then down to 50% then 25% until a reward becomes a much more rate treat only 10% of the time. The dog should soon learn to act good whether there is a treat involved or not.

This should be the goal for you and your relationship with your new adopted dog. Training through positive reinforcement will build a strong bond that will last several years and the lifetime of your dog.

Dog Adoption: Crate Training

dog crate

A popular method of training dogs after adoption is crate training. The purpose of crate training is to create a place in the home where the dog is safe during the evening and hours you are not home.

You can choose between several types of crates. There are fabric models, plastic models and metal models of crates for dogs.


  • Never use the crate as a form of punishment. This will cause the dog to fear the crate and he or she will not want to enter it when you want them to.
  • Do not leave the dog in the crate for too long. Dogs need exercise and interaction and need to go to the bathroom after several hours.
  • Puppies should never spend more than 3-4 straight hours in a crate as they’re unable to hold their bladders for much longer than that.
  • Do not consider the crate a permanent solution. Use it only until you trust the dog not to chew items in your home, urinate in the home or harm himself or herself at all.


  • Introduce the crate to your dog using treats or food or something for them to feel comfortable about the crate. Place one or two treats just over the entry of the crate. If the dog goes in, place more treats near the back of the crate.
  • Place the dog’s food dish in the back of the crate. This will let the dog eat a meal in the crate and he or she will become more comfortable with being in the crate for longer periods of time.
  • Spend time sitting next to the crate with the dog inside. Sit with them for 5-10 minutes at a time and then let them be in the crate your.
  • Leave your home with the dog in the crate but for no longer than 20-30 minutes the first few times.
  • Leave the dog in the crate overnight. Once the dog is comfortable in the crate for an entire evening.

Once your dog is able to sleep the entire night in the crate the training will complete. You should use the crate until you feel comfortable the dog will be safe in your home and not damage anything.

Dog Adoption: Prepare Your Home

new dog

It is very exciting to adopt a dog and welcome him or her in your home. A new dog is very fun but it is a big responsibility too. You need your home to be ready for an adoption dog before he or she arrives.

We will offer a few tips on how to prepare your home for your adopted dog and begin a successful relationship with your new pet right away:


You should determine what area of your home will be the primary sleeping area and living space for your dog. If you plan on crate training, the crate should be placed in this area too.

It might require a few days for your dog to acclimate itself to his or her new home and it might be nervous too. This could lead to accidents so we recommend creating a comfortable space in the kitchen or in a laundry room or entry room with tile floors.


You need to put cleaning chemicals and other toxic items out of the reach of your dog. There are several common cleaning products and household items that can poison a dog and you want to be sure those products are all higher than ground level.

You should also secure cords to the floor or a nearby wall and try to rearrange breakables such as lamps or vases to where they’re safe for at least the first few days after the dog arrives at your home.

If there are areas in your home you do not want the dog to enter, you should consider placing pet gates or baby gates in front of stairways or entryways to contain the dog where you want him or her to be.


Create an ID tag for the dog immediately and bring it with you to the shelter when you arrive to bring your dog home. Place the tag on the collar right away and include your phone number on it too. This ensures the dog will not be lost should he or she run away after arriving at your home.


Create a training plan before the dog arrives. You and your family should agree on commands and vocabulary to use for the dog so that the training is consistent and no confusion occurs. This will help the dog learn much faster and put his or her mind at ease much sooner in their new home.

There are several necessary considerations before your dog arrives at your home. You want the dog to feel safe and secure the moment he or she steps in the door and you want to set yourself up for success in training the dog and acclimating him or her to new surroundings and new people too!

For the first few days, we recommend leaving the dog in your home or in your neighborhood and not introducing him or her to additional strangers in the process of the dog learning to love you and acknowledge you as family.