Can an adopted dog be loyal?

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Dear Labby_oldDear Labby,
We’ve been thinking about adopting a dog from the shelter. I don’t think we’re prepared for a puppy, but I worry about an older dog. Will they bond to my family? Is it better to get a puppy? Does it upset a dog to get a new family? Will they ever learn to be loyal to me and my family?
Worried Mom


Dear Mom,

That’s a very interesting question and one that many folks who are thinking about adopting a dog ask themselves. The answer is a resounding YES. Dogs are very resilient. Yes, they are loyal to their family, but they are also very adaptable – thousands of years of domestication make them perfectly suited to “love the one they’re with”.

When we rescued Jack five years ago, he had been with several families. He had been in the shelter for a year, although had previously been adopted and returned, so we know he had at least two families. When I went to visit him the first time, he seemed very bonded to the woman from the rescue. He stayed close to her side and seemed to listen to her. This same woman brought Jack to our house for a visit. Once again, he seemed bonded to her and I worried how I was going to manage this huge 105lb dog who had a mind of his own. Whenever I took the leash, he just wanted to go back to her.
But, once she left and it was just Jack and me…he immediately transferred his loyalties to me and became the biggest (both literally and figuratively) velcro dog I’ve ever had.
I think all dogs are different, and some may not be quite as fickle with their affection as Jack – but dogs adapt, it’s what they do, they live in the moment, love in the moment and are happy to be with someone who returns that love.
adopted dog bonding
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  1. I got my four as adults, one a stray and three that needed re-homing. They could not be more loyal and loving.
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  2. Of course it can be loyal. No matter if the dog is yours or it’s adopted, if it’s well trained, the dog will be really calm and will behave good πŸ™‚
    Plamen Ivanov recently posted…Dog food aggression and how to cope with it?My Profile

    • Training is important for them to feel secure and to understand the rules as they may be different.
      mkob recently posted…Can an adopted dog be loyal?My Profile

  3. We see it every day with my brother and Doc. Like anything worthwhile, it takes time, but is well worth the effort.

  4. Mom says her adopted, adult shelter dog was her most loyal dog ever. She never left Mom’s side. Those of us who moved in as puppies had it too good our entire lives and are loyal, but not nearly as loyal as the shelter dog was.
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  5. Just this week there was a story about a Haus, a German Shepherd in Tampa, who was recently adopted and took 3 rattlesnake bites to save his little 7 year-old girl. That’s loyalty for you!
    Marcia Weiser recently posted…Colleges that produce the most MLB playersMy Profile

  6. Absolutely they can be loyal! At this “later” stage in my life, I only adopt seniors now. My last 2, and 2 current, dogs were 12, 9, 10, and 10, respectively. While they were vastly different breed mixes and personalities, and each needed to take their own time and path, once they know & trust they are safe & secure, the special devotion received from an adult or senior dog makes it so worthwhile! One took almost a year to decide he was truly in his forever home, and one of my last ones knew it in two weeks. You just need to be patient with them – especially if you don’t know their backgrounds, or what ‘baggage’ they have to overcome.

  7. My Daisy had 2 homes before she found me and she was the most loving and loyal pup. I think she knew she found her forever home. These dogs have so much to teach us about love!!

  8. We purchased our first dog, a golden, when he was a young adult of 14 months. He was extremely loyal. I do not think he ever gave his first home a second thought, although he was perfectly happy there.
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  9. Absolutely! Some of my ‘best’ dogs who came from the Dumb Friends were completely bonded and loyal members of our family. Like our human relatives, they each have their own personalities and quirks but given the right environment, they can (and will) thrive. πŸ™‚

  10. We adopted our GSD K-9 when the officer retired and wanted to only raise her bloodhounds. He transferred his love and protection within one week of arriving in our home. He’d have given his life for us or our children without a second thought. Adopted dogs ROCK!
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  11. That doubt would have never crossed my mind – in fact I think the bond would be extremely close and loyal for the fact that dogs are so intuitive. They know when they are loved by us humans.

  12. I agree 100%
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