Your Dog’s History
Thank you for adopting your big-hearted, beautiful beagle! Your dog was involved in a national case in which a large number of beagles were rescued from a facility where they were kept in small, often overcrowded cages and provided with limited care. Beyond this, we do not know what they may have been exposed to — but we do know that your respect, patience, care and attention will give them the best chance to acclimate to their newly expanded world and become a loving companion to your family.
Adjusting to a New Environment
Your pet likely lived a mostly isolated life before being rescued, so new people, places and things may be quite scary to them. This doesn’t mean they can’t learn to be a brave, well-adjusted dog — just that it will likely take extra patience and effort to help them learn they are safe in their new environment. Your pet will need you to remain committed to making adjustments in your own environment as you get to know them better. Here are some recommendations to set your new beagle up for success.
Provide a quiet, small space. This should include a crate, soft bed, toys, water and food bowls. Close off any direct access to the outdoors (e.g. doors or windows) to prevent your pet from escaping. The best safe spaces are low-traffic. Some examples include a spare bedroom or tucked-away corner of a living room.
Don’t leave them alone for too long. Gradually get your new pet used to being alone by leaving the house for short periods (10-15 minutes) several times a day. Then, slowly increase the time you’re gone. Prepare them to feel safe and relaxed on their own by giving them plenty of activity throughout the day, as well as enrichment to occupy their time while you’re gone.
Accidents will happen. Your pet has a history of being crated for extended periods of time without access to go to the bathroom elsewhere. As a result, they have had a lot of practice going to the bathroom in their own space. This doesn’t mean they will never learn to eliminate outdoors or in a designated space — just that it will take more time, patience and effort. To help your dog succeed, start with frequent bathroom breaks (every 1-2 hours). Use positive reinforcement to consistently reward your dog for using the bathroom in the appropriate space. Never punish accidents — simply clean them with an enzymatic cleanser to eliminate the odor.
Learn and pay attention to your pet’s body language. Allowing your new pet to choose whether to consent to new interactions or move away from scary things is very important. Cowering, tucking their tail, pinning their ears, averting their gaze or lowering their head are all signs your dog is uncomfortable or afraid and is asking for distance. For pets displaying these behaviors, it’s important to recognize they are out of their comfort zone and will need you to help by removing them from the environment. By showing our pets that we respect their needs for space, they’ll learn they can trust us and will approach us more over time. And when we positively reinforce the behaviors we want to see, our pets learn to continue performing them!
Limit and monitor socialization. When introducing your dog to new people, dogs, places or even common household items, do so carefully and intentionally. Keep these interactions brief and infrequent at first. Be aware of the environment and how your dog is responding. If they become fearful or uncomfortable, end the interaction.
Adapt. As you spend your first few quiet weeks getting to know your dog, you will start to notice their likes and dislikes, spaces where they feel safe, and changes in their body language. Try not to pressure them into interactions or activities they aren’t ready to engage in yet. Let them show you when they are ready for play and snuggles. A quick way to check for consent is to place your hand away from your dog, palm up. If they move toward the hand, pet them for three seconds. Stop petting and move your hand away — then pause and wait for your dog’s reaction. Watch their body language: Do they move closer to continue receiving petting, or do they move away? This tells you whether your pet is inviting contact!
Behavior and Training Support
Remember that this is your new family member’s first time in a home environment. Teaching them “desirable” pet behavior will take extra time and patience. Stay flexible and help your dog learn new behaviors by offering reinforcement in the form of treats, play time, petting and gentle verbal affirmations. When your dog makes a mistake, don’t punish them — instead, teach an alternative behavior or think of ways to prevent the unwanted behavior from occurring.
San Diego Humane Society offers training classes and tools that may help you and your pet, including a free Behavior Helpline (details below), post-adoption behavior consults and an online resource library.
Well Socialized Pet Chat
Sundays at 10:30 a.m., Classes offered online over Zoom
Cats and dogs of all ages, 30 minutes, free
Pets need to be socialized (here’s a checklist for puppies and one for kittens) with various people, animals, sounds, handling, objects and experiences. Ideally this will happen before they’re 16 weeks old, but socialization is possible at any age! We discuss six socialization topics (one per weekend) and provide tips to develop well-rounded dogs and cats. Register for each! These are an excellent supplement to training classes.
Learn more at sdhumane.org/trainingclasses
Behavior Helpline: Contact our Behavior Team
For behavior questions, please contact our Behavior Helpline either by calling 619-299-7012, ext. 2244, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out our Ask a Trainer form. San Diego Humane Society Adopters can fill out the Post Adoption Consultation form to schedule their troubleshooting session. We aim to respond within 7 days, but responses may take up to 2 weeks. Thank you for your patience!
Note: Due to the potential for serious injury, canine and feline aggression are best handled by a professional who specializes in aggressive behaviors. Because phone or email counseling is inadequate for addressing serious behavior concerns, we ask that you contact a qualified professional for help. Please refer to the list of behavior resources here.
Questions About Public Classes
San Diego Humane Society offers training classes and resources to address a variety of needs for companion animals.
Our training philosophy is based on the behavioral science concepts of positive reinforcement. Training your pet using these concepts will not only help them learn new behaviors more quickly, it will also strengthen the bond you share.
Our website includes a current schedule of training classes or call 619-279-5961.
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