Training a Shelter Dog – You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Training a Shelter Dog - You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

With so many dogs in shelters waiting for a home, it is understandable that people often adopt a dog instead of purchasing one. You will have a large selection to choose from when deciding on your new best friend. Not only that, but you will also be giving a deserving dog a second chance at happiness. Some potential adopters are hesitant for fear that training a shelter dog will be too difficult or even impossible. The level and intensity of training necessary for a shelter dog varies as each dog has a different history that influences its behavior. However, with time, patience, and dedication, training a shelter dog is possible. Here are some training tips to help get you and your furry friend on the same page.

Training Begins Immediately 

Training a shelter dog begins when you first bring them home. You need to set some ground rules and establish your role as the leader of the pack. Dogs are social animals and need a pack leader to feel secure. By being consistent with rules, such as where they can go in the house and when they can eat, your shelter dog will begin to understand their place in the pack and feel more comfortable in their new home.

Start with Basic Commands

One of the best ways to bond with your shelter dog and begin training them is to teach them some basic commands. Commands like “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “down” are essential for every dog to know and will give you a good foundation on which to build more advanced training.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Training a shelter dog can be challenging, so it is important to use positive reinforcement when they do something you want them to do. This can be in the form of treats, petting, or verbal praise. By consistently rewarding your dog when they listen to you, they will begin to associate good behavior with a positive reward and as a result, be more likely to repeat it.

Socialization is Key

Dogs that have spent little time around people or other animals can be more difficult to train as they may be fearful or anxious in new situations. Socializing your dog early on is crucial to help them adjust to their new home and build their confidence. This can be done by taking them on walks, to the dog park, or even just around the neighborhood so they can get used to being around people and other animals.

Be Patient and Consistent

One of the most important things to remember when training a shelter dog is to be patient and consistent. They learn best through repetition and positive reinforcement, so keep up with training even when it feels like they aren’t making progress. Remember that every dog is different and will learn at their own pace, so be patient, and you will see results.

How to train a dog from a shelter

Common Behaviors to Overcome When Training a Shelter Dog

There are a few common behaviors that many shelter dogs need to overcome, such as jumping, chewing, and pulling on the leash.


Dogs often jump up on people as a way of greeting them or getting attention. While this may be cute if your dog is small, it can become dangerous with large dogs To prevent your shelter dog from jumping up on people, teach them the “sit” or “down” command and praise them when they listen. You can also put your hand out in front of you and say “no” or “off” if they start to jump and ignore them until they calm down.


Many dogs like to chew on things to relieve boredom or stress. This can become a problem if they start chewing on items like furniture or shoes. To prevent your shelter dog from doing this, provide them with plenty of chew toys and praise them when they use them. You can also give them a tasty treat every time they chew on their toy to reinforce the desired behavior.

Pulling on the leash:

Dogs often pull on the leash because they are excited or want to go faster than you are walking. This can be dangerous as it can cause you to lose control of your dog and put them in danger. To prevent your shelter dog from pulling on the leash, start training them with a harness or head collar. These devices will help you to control your dog without hurting them and make walks more enjoyable for both of you.

training a dog from a shelter

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

It doesn’t matter if you are training a shelter dog or a pedigreed puppy – you may need a little help. Beau’s K9 Academy is here to help you properly train the newest addition to your family. We offer an array of dog training services like behavior modification, in-home training, puppy training, and even advanced search and rescue training.  Contact Beau’s K9 Academy today.