How To Adopt & Manage A Shelter Or Homeless Dog As A Pet (by Terry Kyle)


I am NOT a professional dog trainer, veterinarian or any kind of certified dog professional.

I run the world’s fastest WordPress hosting company here but have now spent years working with hundreds of shelter dogs, have 2 ex-homeless dogs, Rina and Jorro (and 7 awesome ex-homeless orphan cats: Sasha, Misha, Gigi, Yana, Bella, Pancho and Suzi) at home, plus the world’s softest, calmest dog, Joey, a 5 year-old female Golden Retriever.

The advice below is therefore meant to be a simple, quick reference guide if you are considering adopting a shelter or homeless dog ESPECIALLY if you have never been a dog owner before.

Let’s jump into the wonderful world of shelter dog ownership!

BEFORE You Adopt A Shelter/Homeless Dog!


Too many people are in love with the romantic Hollywood idea of nobly saving a dog from an uncertain life on the streets or a terrible existence in a tiny dog shelter cage:

Often, many people adopt such a dog but then quickly find the whole responsibility of dog ownership too much to handle, the sacrifice too large, the infringements on their lifestyle too great and start to resent the dog.

In such cases, the confused animal is then handed back to the shelter or worse, abandoned somewhere.

So, if you are considering adopting a dog, please please please audit yourself and your maturity, responsibility and seriousness to be a good dog parent who will be there for the animal, day-in, day-out, regardless of your feelings on any given day and be present for the dog – possibly for the next 10-15 years

Owning a dog can be a huge PITA at times so if you honestly think you can’t handle that, admit it and don’t get a dog – that’s the best way for all concerned.

As Robert De Niro’s character says in Ronin, if there is any doubt, then there is no doubt, don’t do it.


Ask yourself if your lifestyle actually fits a dog.

For example:

Will you be able to take your dog to your work and yes, more and more companies are becoming dog-friendly, like WPX Hosting is, and even if it isn’t currently your employer’s official policy, why not ask them and encourage them to consider it – here are 2 of the WPX dogs at our office:

I will be adding a page on this site soon on the merits and how-to of dog-friendly offices.

Otherwise, will your new dog buddy be stuck at home, probably stressed from separation anxiety because you are away for most of the day, 5 days a week? 

Is that a good life for that dog, expecting it to sleep most of the day and night?

CHOOSING The RIGHT Shelter Dog For You

It is also CRUCIALLY important to choose a dog whose ENERGY and TEMPERAMENT basically match your own.

For example, adopting a high-energy, exercise-needy dog won’t work if you are older, less mobile and unprepared for living with such an animal.

You would make each other very miserable!

In a similar way, bringing a high-energy young dog to your home from a shelter where you already have another dog who is older, slower and low-energy is also not a good combination.

Like dating between people, matching up your personalities is VERY important.

Some dogs demand constant affection and cuddles like this adorable 3-legged pit bull female here, Piggy:

whereas others might be more aloof and independent, which works better for you.

Like people, dogs have a variety of personalities so try to choose a shelter dog whose normal behaviour and personality matches your own.

AFTER You Adopt A Shelter/Homeless Dog!

This is where PATIENCE on the part of us humans becomes absolutely vital!

A lack of patience is probably the #1 reason that dog adoptions fail generally – then the dog gets abandoned or sent back to the shelter, possibly for the rest of its life.

Even though the shelter dog seemed sweet and friendly during your meeting, they still have to ADAPT to you, your home, your neighborhood, other dogs, possibly cats, being house trained.

That means thay you have to demonstrate PATIENCE with the animal during its adaptation to its new life.

It may have been in a shelter all its life, possibly years, and that isn’t emotionally healthy for a dog.

Big Sam - Best Shelter Dog Ever

Your new shelter dog buddy may struggle with unwanted behaviors like:

  • Chasing cyclists
  • Chasing cars
  • Being aggressive to (some) other dogs
  • Being too excited by cats
  • Being insecure about meeting strangers or children
  • Food aggression
  • Wandering off and not coming back when off leash (this GPS system is awesome for that by the way but tape the GPS tracker to your dog’s harness or collar, the original clip is too flimsy, see below pics for how I attach them to Rina and Jorro for mountain walks)

These behaviours are usually easy to overcome in most cases IF you invest the required PATIENCE and non-violent correction of the unwanted traits.

And, if you are struggling with the burden of dog ownership, talk to other dog owners out walking in your area about your problems and they will have advice or at least understand your situation.

It can help.

Before long though, you will usually synch up pretty quickly with your new mate and enjoy a fabulous life together:

Benny - A Wonderful Shelter Dog I Completely Trusted The Moment I Met Him