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Ask the Trainer

Ask the Trainer: Helping a Shelter Dog Adjust to Life With a New Family

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Dear Kevin,
My girlfriend’s dog misses me when I’m not there. I was cuddling and playing with him a lot while he was still at the animal shelter. We had to wait two weeks till my girlfriend could take him home. She had to work during the opening hours of the animal home so she only saw him twice during those weeks.

In the first week in his new home I visited Bummer four times, including some hours of watching, walking and cuddling the dog while my girlfriend was at work. After the first two visits the dog started to lose interest in eating and going outdoors. It was pretty obvious that he was “missing” me. Since I can’t move in with my girlfriend we decided that I won’t see the dog for two weeks. After three days the dog got better and started to play again. What should we do now/after the full two weeks to keep him from missing me – or at least from feeling miserable – again?

Hi Peter,

It sounds like Bummer really developed quite a bond with you. That is unfortunate that he wasn’t acting himself while you were away. It’s probably due to being in the shelter and not having a consistent human.

My recommendation would be for your girlfriend to try to built an awesome relationship with him. This can start off with her being the provider of everything good for him. Everything good can consist of access to outdoors, initiating play, feeding each meal, lots of treats, lots of fun training, and long walks. By doing these things together what should happen is Bummer should really start enjoying her presence. When that happens the problem should be solved.

Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org)  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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