Adoption Tips

Little Traverse Bay Humane Society has developed the following list of new adoption tips to make life with your new four-legged family member a rewarding, successful experience for the whole family.

  1. Go slow with your new dog. It takes time for a dog to adjust to a new environment and bond with his/her new family.
  2. Keep your new dog on leash at all times until he/she gets used to his/her new environment and family. This is especially true if your dog is extremely shy. You can also tether your new dog to yourself with a leash for a few days to get used to you being the pack leader.
  3. Use a crate to contain your new dog to provide a safe place as he/she adjusts to your home and family. Place the crate in an area where the family is congregated so that your dog will feel part of the family.
  4. Always use the crate in a positive way. Use treats to entice your dog into the crate and reward your dog with praise when he/she goes in.
  5. If you are expecting company or there’s a lot of activity in your home, put your dog in the crate or confined in an unused room. This will help prevent an unwanted escape.
  6. Inform guests to ignore your new dog, especially if he/she is shy. Tell them to let your dog smell their hand and to scratch him/her under the chin or on the chest. Let them know that they should not pet your dog on top of the head or hug him/her around the neck.
  7. If your dog is fearful of new people, do not force him/her to approach. Redirect your dog’s attention and let him/her approach when ready. Treats also can be used to reinforce the positive effects of meeting new people.
  8. Keep your new dog off of furniture and beds. Should you want your dog on furniture, be sure he/she earns the privilege by using the “okay” command to get up.
  9. If your dog has an accident in the house, be sure not to punish him/her. Instead, remove the mess and take it outdoors to the area that you want your dog to use. Show your dog where you placed it and be sure to always take him/her to that area to go to the bathroom.
  10. If your new dog is in a fenced in area, keep him/her on a leash and walk the perimeter to become acquainted with the boundary of the new area. Keep the leash on when you let your dog loose until you know that he/she cannot escape.
  11. Play with your dog as much as possible! Play helps to build confidence. Be sure not to wrestle, chase, or mouth play with your dog as this could encourage unwanted behavior.
  12. If you decide to play tug of war with your new dog, always be sure you are in control. Do not let your dog win or take the toy from you. Make him/her release it. If your dog should touch you in any way with his/her teeth, be sure to end the game immediately and put the toy away. Never play this game with an aggressive dog or dogs of bully breeds. Children should not play tug of war with dogs.
  13. Be sure to give your new dog plenty of exercise like walking or hiking. Always make sure his/her collar is secure and that you have a tight hold on the leash – this is especially necessary with extremely shy dogs.
  14. For a successful relationship with your new dog, establish yourself as the pack leader. A dog needs a daily routine, boundaries and limitations. Ignore all demands made by your dog for attention. Make him/her work for attention and treats, and even meals. Even a simple “sit” will do.

Have questions? Contact our Training and Behavior Specialist, Sarah Schertel at