Second Chance Pups

From shelter to a new home

Adopting and bringing home a shelter dog is very different to bringing home an 8 or 12 week old puppy from a breeder. There might be some similarities, however 99% of the time, adopting a dog from a shelter is a different story.


So, if you are one of those amazing humans who’s decided to adopt a dog, firstly – congratulations to both you and the dog! And following are some useful tips for you to get you and your dog off to a great start in your new life together.

9 tips that will help setting yourself and your dog up for success

Dog adoption

1. Take your dog straight home

Bring your shelter dog straight home when you’ve picked him or her up from the shelter. Skip any potential ideas you might have of bringing your shelter dog to any other places but home. This is to give your dog plenty of time to settle in and adjust to their new home. The chances of a shelter dog being stressed and anxious coming straight from a shelter environment are quite high.


So give your dog some time to calm down before taking him or her anywhere else but home.


2. Show your dog where to do the wees and poos

When I picked up my first shelter dog, Lexi, she was very stressed and anxious. And the mistake I made when we arrived home was that I took her straight inside the house. Why was this a mistake? Well, Lexi had no idea of where she was, and she didn’t know who I was. Instead of taking the time to show her around her new home, like letting her have a sniff around the yard and perhaps have a wee – I took her straight inside. She started running around the house and before I even had time to blink – she did a poo on the rug in our living room, and then ran to another room and did another one.


So, two things here ✌ Before you take your dog inside, keep him or her on a lead while you show where the appropriate toilet area is, and this can be good to do a couple of times within the first few hours until your new friend learns where the toilet is.


3. Teach your dog good habits from the start

If you want to teach your dog good behaviour and good habits right from the start – don’t let him or her run around the house as they wish. You might want to teach him or her some good behaviour first. Another reason why you might not want to allow this to happen – you could potentially end up injured while trying to stop your dog from running crazy. (Talking from my own experience here 😎).


Lexi does zoomies, she runs as fast as she possibly can around in circles. She has her specific routes that she does out in our yard and obviously, this is a no no inside ✋However, it HAS happened inside, and when I tried to stop her – I injured my thumb quite badly. and that was an injury that took a long time to heal.


So, make sure you get it right from the start and spare yourself and your dog some potentially painful scenarios 😊

4. Show your dog where their spots are​

Hopefully you’ve organized your dog some sort of bed or a crate where he or she can cuddle up if they’re inside. Show your dog where their confined bed area is and help them understand where their place is while being inside.


You might have different areas for your dog depending on the time of day and what you are up to. For example while you’re at work, while you’re making food, eating dinner, while you sleep etc.


We have a couple of different places for Lexi at home. When she’s outside she has her bed area on the deck but she’s free to be in the yard as she wishes. When inside, she has one bed area in the hallway and one bed area in the living room. And she can pick between the two. We have also taught her that she’s not allowed in the kitchen.


This will take some repetition to teach your dog where their place is, just remember that dogs do want to be told what to do, and if you want an obedient dog – consistency is key. Remember, you are their teacher and leader.


5. Crate training

A lot of people vouch for crate training; I’ve met and heard from people having tremendous success with their dogs using crate training. We never used a crate, but Lexi used to crawl in underneath our bed (it was very small under there) and sleep there when she was younger, and I used to let her do so as it kept her very calm and at piece.

Crate training

6. Introducing your dog to new people and pets outside of the family

When it comes to start introducing your dog to new people or even other pets, give yourself and your dog some time to settle in and get to know each other first. Once you’ve given this some time, then you can start introducing your dog to knew people/pets. But make sure you do this gradually as it can be overwhelming for your dog.

7. Make feeding fun and challenging

If you adopt a dog that has a very active mind (Like Lexi does), you can try feeding your dog out of a Kong or a dog puzzle bowl. This is great for active furry minds! You can also use some of your dogs daily food rations while you do some training or even during walks – you could for example do some hide and seek with pellets, treats or any dog food of your choice.

8. Chew toys

Chew toys! Get a couple of good quality (and safe) chew toys! I can’t recommend this enough.


Lexi chewed up her bed, her doghouse and even some of our pot plants when I first got her. She loved chewing on things, and because she has such an active mind, and easily gets bored – she’d pick whatever she could get her paws on.


If you get some chew toys, you can minimize the chances of your dog destroying things you’d rather keep, and create appropriate and long-lasting chewing habits which both you and your dog will be very grateful for.

9. Obedience training classes

This is probably one of my greatest recommendations!


Find an obedience training class with an experienced and qualified trainer who uses positive reinforcement methods. This will be such a win for the both of you and you will have so much fun doing this.


If you want to get your dog to a place where he or she does what you ask, when you ask – obedience training classes is a great option (it’s a must in my opinion) !


Taking these classes will teach you and your dog how to communicate, it’s great for bonding and you could potentially form new friendships with a bunch of other dog parents and their fur babies. Win win!


If you live in Australia and on the Sunshine Coast – I can highly recommend to take Stephen Dawsons dog obedience classes. He is without a doubt the man for the job. Stephen has 35 years of experience and has helped countless amounts of people and their dogs. 

Dog obedience training

I contacted Stephen when I was on the verge of giving Lexi up after months of struggling with her, and I am endlessly grateful for what this man has done for Lexi and I. He has a lifetime worth of knowledge and he has a way with dogs like no other.


He leads his classes with a great sense of humour and his love for dogs truly shines through his work. 


Without the help from Stephen and his endless knowledge about dogs – Lexi and I wouldn’t be where we are today – and most likely this site wouldn’t exist. 


A huge Thank You to this man for helping so many of us fur parents with our fur babies – we are forever grateful.

I really hope these 9 tips will help you and your new best friend on your way to a fun, loving and memorable life together.


Remember – be patient, love the crap out of your shelter dog and go have fun! 


Warm wishes,

Second chance