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August 15, 2011 at 7:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Rules for Your New Adopted Dog

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

I see it all the time.

Someone adopts a dog but after a few months of having their new beloved best friend, they find out that their dog has developed some unwanted behavioral issues. After asking them some questions, I find out that they have given their dog nothing but love and failed to set up rules and boundaries.

I call this "Too Much Love Syndrome."

Now you have a dog that is showing fear aggression, dominant aggression, or severe anxiety. Not good.

If you have been reading my previous blogs, you know by now that I believe a rescued dog is the best kind of dog! They know you saved them! They give you love unconditionally and ask for nothing in return. But for many of us, when we sign the "dotted line" on those adoption papers, our sympathy kicks into overdrive

"Poor puppy! Don't you worry anymore! You will be spoiled! I will give you anything you want, to make up for your past and how horrible it must have been."

....well friends, no matter how well-meaning, that is the WORSE thing we can possibly do for our newly adopted dog!

Just like a child, a set routine lets your new best friend know what to expect and helps prevent the anxiety that comes with uncertainty. The best thing you can do for your new best friend is immediately establish limitations, rules, and boundaries.


No sleeping on your bed, a doggy bed next to your bed is just fine. Now, before you want to yell at me and say "My previous dog had slept on my bed with no issues, why can't my new dog?!", let me reassure you that this is a very short term rule until your dog understands his place with you and your family.

His/Her "place" is being low man on the totem pole. Once this is established with your new fur buddy, by all means have him/her sleep on your bed!

However, once you start this, you really need to stick with it. If you're sure that's what you want, your new fur baby should always be "invited" to be up on your bed. To do this, simply put your dog in a "Sit" and once they complete their sit, pat the bed and say "Up" to invite them up to sleep with you.


Have your dog on a strict feeding schedule. NO FREE FEEDING ALLOWED! Remember - your furry friend values food to the highest. Always maintain control of their highest value.

Have your dog "Earn" their food. Have them do a "Sit" and "Stay" before you put their food down. Make sure they complete their "Sit" and "Stay" before giving them their meal. This should be done for the rest of their life for every meal. NO Exceptions.


Your new fur buddy should have rules and boundaries set up if you have children.

  • Puppies. Don't allow "rough" play if you have adopted a puppy. Although this is cute at the moment, when your puppy gets older and is "plowing" the kids over or extremely nippy, you won't be appreciating this type of play anymore.
  • Adult Dogs. If you get an older dog, make sure the kids (not just the dog) have rules of how they play together. A big breed dog is NOT a mini horse, nor is a small breed a stuffed animal that should be carried around all the time.

An older dog can tolerate a lot if it was raised with children, however, that doesn't mean you should let your children pull ears or tails and climb all over your dog. Even if you dog is "tolerant" of this type of play, it doesn't mean they like it or that it should be allowed.

Rules of the House

For just a few weeks (2-3) have your dog "Earn" everything they get from you. This program helps to establish the house hierarchy for your new friend. Your dog will understand after this program that YOU are in charge, and while this may sound unkind, they may become insecure or aggressive if they feel there is no control in the house.

  • Earning Their Walk. Have your new dog do a "Down" at the end of the driveway.
  • Earning Your Attention. A dog should do a "Sit" before you pet them and shower them with your love. Have your new fur buddy do a quick "Sit" before playtime with a favorite toy as well.
  • My Dog Doesn't Know "Sit," Yet. :( Do they know any tricks? Any command will do, just as long as your dog does something to get something in return from you.

I hope this helps set you and your newly adopted dog (or puppy) up for long-term success!

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