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The #1 Thing You Need to Know About Adopting A Shelter Dog

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Short Answer: Your New Dog Will Need Some Degree of Training

Longer answer that includes statistics and why CGDT exists:

I’m often asked why I specialize in working with adult adopted dogs. The question usually includes sub-questions like: what do you have against breeders and puppies? Don’t you like purebred dogs? And other questions along those lines.

I thought today was a good day to answer those questions once and for all and also explain why your adopted dog, even as an adult, will need some level of training from you.


I have nothing whatsoever against reputable professional breeders who love their breed and put the health and welfare of the dogs first.

I absolutely LOVE puppies! Who doesn’t, right?

Purebred dogs are also awesome. I particularly love Frenchies and Dalmations.

If that’s the case, why does Creature Good Dog Training exclude all these lovely dogs?

Well, we don’t really. You’d might be surprised to know that plenty of puppies and purebreds find themselves in shelters. We simply focus our attention and marketing on adult rescued dogs – breed unspecified – because they need us the most.

Here’s why:

Statistically, purebred dogs who come from reputable professional breeders are well cared for and trained in most instances. Of course, there are exceptions but, in general, these dogs are a lucky demographic.

The same goes for puppies when they are little and cute, especially purebred puppies from reputable professional breeders.

When either of these two groups find themselves at a shelter, they become the dogs we specialize in helping. Purebred dogs and puppies often end up at shelters because the adopter didn’t do their due diligence about the needs of the breed, didn’t realize how much work puppies are, didn’t get buy in from the entire family before coming home with a dog, are faced with expensive health problems because their breeder wasn’t reputable and a host of other reasons.

Being surrendered to a shelter is stressful for dogs of any breed and age. It can even traumatize a dog to the point of shutting down emotionally. Certain characteristics such as being large and untrained can make them less attractive to potential adopters. Some dogs even get passed over time and time again by potential adopters for reasons that the shelter staff just can’t fathom. Then there’s the black dog phenomenon where black dogs, literally only because they are black, are less likely to be adopted (this is true for black cats as well).

But this stress isn’t even the worst of it and for many lucky dogs it leads to a loving family who commits to them for the entire rest of their life, provides the training and enrichment they need and everyone lives happily ever after. These are my favorite kind of love story.

Sadly, that isn’t the story for way too many dogs.

Let me break it down for you...

Approximately 3.3 million mixed and purebred dogs enter U.S. animal shelters every year.

Of these, about 1.6 million are adopted and 670,000 are euthanized each year.

1 in 10 or 160,000 of the 1.6 million adopted dogs are returned to the shelter within the first year and often within the first couple of weeks/months.

Overwhelmingly, the reasons given for returning a dog are:

  1. The dog exhibited destructive behaviors (for example, soiling in the house, chewing furniture)

  2. The dog was disobedient in general

  3. The dog barked too much

  4. The dog was too active or energetic

  5. The dog was aggressive toward family members, other animals and/or strangers

Do you want to know what almost all of these dogs (96%) had in common?

In the time they were living with the adoptive family, they received ZERO training!!

Yup, these stressed-out dogs who found themselves homeless and alone in a shelter through no fault of their own and were lucky enough to get adopted and have a new chance at life weren’t give even basic obedience training, let alone time and space to settle into their new environment before being expected to magically have perfect behavior.

Man, it gets me heated. So, yes, I and Creature Good Dog Training, specialize in helping these dogs and the lucky folks who get to call them family to live that happily ever after they all want.

We work with rescued dogs and their families so that the dogs get the time and space to settle into their new environment and the training and enrichment they need to thrive and be the good boys and girls we know they are!

Just a note about the 4% of dogs that are surrendered back to the shelter for other reasons. Sometimes the best choice for all concerned is surrender. There shouldn’t be a stigma attached to surrendering a dog for the right reasons. Sometimes the dog is a mismatch for the family. I have actually helped people make the decision to surrender a dog that is a mismatch. It’s heartbreaking and brave.

The point I want to drive home about the 96% is that we need to make the idea of training every dog obvious to every adopter. That will save a lot of dogs and people from heartbreak.

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