Learning the Rules

Well I told you yesterday that we got a new shelter dog.  She is very sweet, but I probably wouldn’t have picked her out of all the ones there. My husband really likes her. In all new adoptions there are rules to learn.  No matter what your household is like, rules, especially for dogs, is a must.


This is our Lacy. Yes her ear is always like that unless she’s REALLY exciting..then you get both up.  She has been in the shelter for a month.  In the shelter there are rules.  Doggy rules.  Rule 1: This is my kennel. Dont come in it.  Rule 2: This is my food, no other may eat it.  Rule 3: This is my water..go get your own. Rule 4: This is the only bone I’ve gotten and I dont share.  These are basic doggy rules and the longer they stay in the kennel usually the more enforced they become.

This is a problem when you have a dog already and bring one in.  The dog in your house has different doggy rules. Rule 1: This is my house, but my house is your house.  Rule 2: Yeah that’s my food, go ahead, try some.  Rule 3: Here is the water, same some for me cause I might want some after we play. Rule 4: Oh hey this is my bone, take it, chew it, I’ll get it when your done.


Two lives merge and most of the time one dog gives in to the other. Most of the time, at least at first, it seems the shelter dog gives in to the dog who’s home it is. This is not always the case.  I write this because although most adoptions are great, seamless, and dogs get along well, not all are that way and you have to be prepared to be the Alpha.  We brought Lacy home towards evening.  The next day was when we had to set the rules straight.  She had prison rules, Annie had home rules.  Annie only eats once a day, usually before bed, but today it was around 1. She walked over to eat out of her own bowl and Lacy decided it was hers.  It was not pretty. A quick NO and both dogs split.  Then I made Lacy lay down and watch Annie eat what she wanted.

I had given both dogs a bone before I went to town. Lacy was crated with her bone and Annie was left out with hers. When we came home, I let Lacy out of her crate. She decided that since her bone was gone that she would take Annie’s.  Now Annie, having remembered the whole food fiasco, decided it was her bone. Rightly so, I gave it to her. Well again Lacy went after Annie.  NO! Both dogs take off running. I grab the bone and put it in Annie’s cage for later.

lacy 3

Lacy has decided that this house is a big kennel. It is all her’s and Annie has nothing.  So now it is up to me, the Alpha, to keep the peace and make Lacy realize we all have to share and prison rules don’t apply.  There is no room in the house for fighting.  She only ruined it for herself because now she is bored and wants to play, but Annie will not play with a dog who attacked her twice. Can you blame her?

Lacy really is a good dog. Most would have taken her back to the shelter by now. I mean she chases cats, chickens, is food territorial, and has fought twice with the original dog of the household.  To me, I see a dog who has had these rules for a month and one day is not going to change it all.  In this 24 hour period I have seen Lacy change.  By being a calm and assertive alpha, I have gotten her to sit on command (she only did it if you pushed her down each time), you can snap your fingers and point to the floor and she lays down (to scratch her belly, but still hehe), she lays in the living room while the family eats dinner, and she doesn’t go into our laundry room if I am in there and have told her to stay out. She sits to get the leash snapped on, she sits when she comes in so you can take it off, and she will leave a room if you tell her to “go.”

Please realize that although shelter dogs may have “faults” at the beginning, they play by different rules.  They either play by prison rules, or they play by the rules they had at their other home.  That doesn’t make them a bad dog. Give them time to learn the new rules before you decide to send them back because they don’t fit your expectations.  You have to take them as they are. It’s not their fault and they will adapt to your rules if you are a good Alpha.

Happy Homesteading!!   😀

Categories: Homesteading | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Learning the Rules

  1. thatoldschoolgirl

    You make a great pack leader. Keep us up to date on how it goes.

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