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Updated: Dec 20, 2021

We adopted Rizzo from HELP the Animals in July of 2019 with no intention of adding a 4th dog to our house. I was at the shelter one Saturday morning for a meeting (I was on the board at that time) and Rizzo came trotting in with a staff member. I sent my husband, Matt, a picture and it was love at first sight for him. After a no show from a potential adopter, she was ours. And since we actually know her birthday (February 23), we’re celebrating!

Rizzo is our 5th dog that we’ve brought into our family (not including two foster dogs) and I can’t stress the importance of these five topics:

1. time is on your side

Give your new dog time to adjust to her new surroundings and environment. We’re quick to offer affection, treats and toys but this is all very overwhelming for a dog who doesn’t know you.

The first thing we did was put Rizzo in her crate and let her get acquainted to everyone and everything in our house on her own terms. With two cats, three other dogs, myself and my husband, it’s a lot for anyone to get used to.

Don’t rush it…it could take up to three months for your new dog to feel comfortable with you.

2. don't be afraid of the crate

During the first few days we kept Rizzo in her crate a majority of the time except for potty breaks, supervised playtime and walks. She ate in her crate and when we couldn’t directly supervise her (shower, dinnertime, work), she was in her crate.

Crating Rizzo prevented her from destroying our house, eating something she shouldn’t, counter surfing, accidents in the house or simply being a bad dog. By using the crate, we advocated for her; we set her up for success.

The crate is simply a tool to help manage your dog. You should NOT feel guilty about putting your dog in there; it’s meant to be a safe place. Dogs are actually den animals and crave their own space.

Will she outgrow it? Maybe, one day. But why change something if it’s working?

3. socialization (but not in the way you think)

It’s good to expose your new dog to different sights, sounds and smells. Socialization is meant to get your dog acclimated to new environments, not to other people and dogs.

Once we felt Rizzo was comfortable in her new home, we started taking her different places. We took her to Lowe’s, Logue’s TLC Pet Hospital to meet the staff, the Farmer’s Market…wherever pet dogs are allowed. This did wonders for boosting her confidence in trying new things.

4. everyday training

If it’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s this. If you want a well behaved dog, you have to be consistent and use everyday moments to teach your dog what it is you want from them.

Use what motivates your dog. For Rizzo, it’s food or a squeaky ball, but mostly food, lol. We taught her sit, down, come, stay and place with her everyday food. We feed The Honest Kitchen (when not feeding raw) and their whole food clusters made this an easy task.

Need help with training? Contact Fetch K9.

5. become everything to your dog

The only way to ensure a well behaved dog is to provide structure, boundaries and guidance. All good relationships are built on trust and respect and it’s no different with your dog. Your new dog looks to you for guidance and it’s up to you to provide it.

While out walking or during her outings, we said no to anyone who asked to pet Rizzo. She looks to us to protect her and if we let anyone and everyone approach her, what are we teaching her?

In the time that Rizzo has been with us, she has become a great addition to our pack. Having a well behaved dog is possible with the right knowledge, tools and positive mindset.


Here’s to every dog becoming an everywhere dog.



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