QUESTION: Two days ago we Adopted this 2.5 year old mixed breed dog from the local SPCA. This dog is HYPERVENTILATING big time..........he shivers and shakes and acts like he wants to bite if we approach him to quickly? He isn't eating much either? Isn't he supposed to be so glad having a new home that he appreciates us? Doesn't he realize that we saved his life? Doesn't he love us? The Animal Shelter Vet said he was fine to go to a new home??? He seems more afraid of my big brother than me and he really seems tense around the small kids? Should we give him back? I think he was abused to much for us to handle?

ANSWER: WHOA!!! Hold on a minute PLEASE. This is an adult dog who has been thoroughly Vet Checked during his stay at the Humane Society/Animal Shelter? This dog is perhaps panting, trembling (actually vibrating), eyes staring and huge, etc. etc. failure to eat normally, etc. is Normal for many dogs going to a new "Territory" with new "Humans". If found to be 100% Physically Healthy during his Vet Checks with the Humane Society, this dog is just acting normal. He is STRESSED, scared and frightened.

I am going to place next one of MY personal documents here when adopting an Adult dog from anywhere or anyone. I Thank You from the bottom of my heart for adopting from a Shelter. THANKYOU!!! Gayle at



(1) A securely fenced back yard "Right Off The Back Door Of The House" is always preferable. So all you have to do is open the door for the dog to go in and out. Not some pen you intend to carry the dog to or lead it too. Being caught by strangers and/or carried by strangers those first few, crucial days in its new territory can cause the dog to develop long lasting fear of you and/or have house training set-backs. When adopting an adult dog, you must let the dog come to you and not chase, corner or grab a dog to catch it. As the dogs confidence builds, it will soon be coming happily to you for pets and hugs. NOTE: Of course having to take a dog out for Exercise and also for Bathroom Duty works on a Leash, it is just harder that is all. You have to work a bit harder at it, that is all. I admire people who "Stay The Course" and are able to do so if they don't have a securely fenced back yard.


(2) FOR DOGS THAT HAVE NEVER HAD A COLLAR AND LEASH ON SO HAVE NEVER BEEN LEAD OR TIED. Do not, I repeat, Do not introduce the Leash until at least two weeks (14 days). After the dog is starting to bond with you. All the leash does is further frighten an already scared, lonely, frightened dog. Remember new territory (it is missing the only home it ever knew) and new people. NOTE: Such as Adopting off of me in this case but any past owner. Your not me and no matter how much love you shower on the dog, it is still not certain about you because you do not act like me, walk like me, talk like me, even smell like me. It is an ADULT dog, not a pup who is just starting out in life and thus open to learning more quickly and easily. Here, at my place running free in the country, it knew freedom and has never seen a collar and leash. Unlike a puppy, it is more set in it's ways and needs to learn new things slowly and patiently.

(3) One thing I have heard in my life repeated by up to 75% of people that adopt an older dog (even some puppies) from SPCA's or Animal Shelters is that the dog "WAS ABUSED". Because it is so Submissive, acts so Afraid, or maybe even shows aggression. And the (majority) of the time, people say it had to be a "MAN" because the dog is more afraid of men. Men walk, talk, look, move more dominantly then children or women. They tread heavier on their feet, their voice is gruffer, they are usually larger, every movement is more masculine. Men with beards, even moustaches or bushy hair are even more frightening because to the dog, that man has his "Hackles" raised and wants to fight. All reasons men are conceived to be more dangerous to a dog.

NOTE: Dogs that are afraid of children are frightened by the children's quicker, less controlled movements and higher pitched voices (including squeals and laughter). Dogs will bite children out of fear (classed as Fear Biting whether children or adults). Not because they are aggressive or hate children but because they are afraid of them. NOTE: But in some cases, a running small child may excite the dog to chase and bite the child as for a split second the child may be perceived as a "Prey Animal" in flight. Also researched when children move quickly or wave their hands/arms quickly like a startled prey animal. These cases are different than Fear Biting but not a true act of Aggression that cannot be solved. I am talking about one quick bite not a dog savagely mauling a child with intent to kill or cripple.

Okay here goes: Less than .01% of dogs have ever been Abused!!! "Neglected" often yes, but not Abused. That is .01%, not even a full 1%.

An adult dog going to a new home and even some pups are filled with FEAR because they miss their "Old Home Territory" and their "Last People". Dogs miss their territory possibly worse than even their humans. All animals are territorial and lost and confused in a new territory until given time to FULLY adjust to it. Dogs miss their last people (it has been researched even if mistreated by the past owners). They need to adjust, lots of time in some cases. Two days or a week or even two weeks just does not cut it. Give them time. Dogs have memories too and you cannot expect a dog to forget it's past over night or to conform to "New House Rules" over night either.

(4) Expect Submissive Behavior or even a mild show of aggression (out of fear of new territory and new owners). Submissive Behavior includes trembling,excess Salivation, panting, eyes huge and staring, slinking with belly to floor, not wanting to come, hiding even. Aggression includes biting out of fear or barking or growling. This can happen when the dog is approached to quickly or feels cornered. Or reaching towards the dog to quickly or grabbing a dog when it is sleeping/resting. Notice when this is happening, the dog is also acting Submissive. Meaning, the show of aggression is not natural or hereditary, only out of fear. Once bonded with you, the dog will go back to it's old ways and no longer be Submissive or fearful.

NOTE: True aggression is determined by the dogs dominant/rigid body stance, body position in relation to intended target, the tightening of the muscles in preparation of coming attack, the way the tail is held, the way the dog holds its head (higher or sometimes slightly lowered to protect their own throat as if the intended victim were another canine who will retaliate), not just growling or barking but actually snarling (difference in tightness of lips pulled back to expose teeth), (barking has become deeper and more eveningly spaced at intended target) moving with aggressive/measured placement of feet, (as if intended victim was another canine that could knock it off its feet during the attack), hackles may be raised, etc.

Such dogs are truly Aggressive (whether Hereditary/Congenital or created by Mankind). Such dogs are unsafe and should be Euthanized. Few can ever be trusted even with mega professional training.

(5) It is preferable to keep the name the dog came with. A dog knows its name. Suddenly it is in a new home with new people and they are trying to get it to behave or teach it and don't even call it by name. It is so much harder on the dog to have to realize that when they say that NEW WORD, these strangers mean him/her??? If you simply must change it's name, do so gradually by saying both the old and the new name together, finally dropping the old name after a couple of weeks.

(6) Immediately get an I.D. tag for the dog with its name and your phone number on it. That way if it gets lost, it can be returned to you. Always take pictures of the dog both when freshly groomed and also when in need of being groomed. That way you can put both pictures on "Posters" to help find your dog if it goes missing. A picture of a dog freshly groomed does not help someone recognize the dog two months later when it is in full coat. Or Vice Versa!!!

(7) A dog going to a new home even though well house trained may have a few accidents "sometime" in those first crucial 30 days. This is to be expected until it learns the new homes routines, etc. Also the dog may chew or bark, be more submissive, more aggressive, etc. etc. from the "Mental Stress" it is under until it adjusts.

(8) Some dogs may refuse to eat enough at first. Be patient, a healthy dog will not starve itself and will soon be eating just fine. Some dogs may not play with toys or enjoy treats or chew bones at first. Be patient, they soon will.


Remember the big 4 when training all animals. Patience, Kindness, Consistency and Repetition. All 4 combined nevers fails to work.

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