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The Newly Adopted Dog and the Runaway Syndrome

The scenario: You adopt a dog and bring him home, with high hopes for a great life together. You’ve seen the “homecoming” memes on social media: there’s the dog with her head on your shoulder as you drive home, both of you smiling as you contemplate your happy future together. Or the dog is snuggled in his brand new bed, a look of contentment and relief on his face. “Aah. I’m home!”

But the reality may not be so meme-worthy. Your first few days may be no honeymoon. You may observe concerning behaviors like fear, inappropriate potty habits, or separation anxiety. Or you just don’t seem to be “bonding.” Or perhaps the dog has tried to run away (or worse, succeeded). After a frustrating 48 hours, you give him up and bring him back to MaxFund. You’re dismayed. We’re dismayed. The dog’s dismayed. What happened?

It’s not uncommon for a newly adopted dog to run away during her first hours, days, or weeks in a new home. This has happened with a number of newly-adopted MaxFund dogs. This can also happen in a fostering situation, or even an overnight visit. This phenomenon occurs frequently enough that it deserves a name: we’ll call it the Runaway Syndrome. Why does this happen, and what can be done about it?

(Note: This issue deals only with the “Runaway Syndrome.” But of course, there can be other issues involved in the transition from shelter to home. These issues include introducing the dog to other pets, ensuring a kid-safe and dog-safe experience if you have younger children, identifying and reducing household hazards, potty-training, behavior issues, and many others. MaxFund is always happy to help new adopters in dealing with such issues. We want the transition from “shelter dog” to “your beloved forever companion” to be successful and as stress-free as possible!)

What you think and what the dog thinks about “homecoming” may be two different things

From a human-centric standpoint, we think that a dog should be delighted to be out of the shelter and in the lovely home of his forever family. Now, the dog has his own comfy bed, furniture to loll on, yummy food, fun toys, loving attention, and maybe even a luxurious backyard to romp in! What’s not to love?

But it’s important to look at this change in circumstances from the dog’s standpoint. As far as the dog is concerned, this new place is not “home”!  “Home” is where he’s been sleeping and eating for the past days, weeks, or months. In other words, the animal shelter is “home”; this new place is scary, unfamiliar, and decidedly not “home.” The dog’s impulse may be to run away and get back home…to the shelter! 

So give the dog some time to become acclimated, and take special precautions until this happens. This may take days, weeks, or even months. But by planning for this initial period of uncertainty, and guarding against the escape risks, you can give your new dog a safe introduction to what surely will be a great forever homecoming.

Your door is the dog’s way out!

It’s critical, during the period when the Runaway Syndrome may be in effect, to take special precautions to ensure the dog doesn’t escape. Even the act of opening your door may give the dog a chance to run away. Some MaxFund dogs have escaped during their first hour at home when the front door was opened. So make sure everyone in the family is extra-careful to ensure, when opening the door, that the dog isn’t in a position to squeeze through and take off.

Also, think about who else may have key access to your home. If you have a friend or service provider with such access, then the risk of escape is heightened. They may not exercise the same degree of care that you would, or just be caught unawares. We recently heard about the tragedy of a dog who escaped when a friend let herself in while the dog’s new human was out on a quick errand. The dog was hit by a car and died. This happened within two hours of the dog’s arrival home. You can avoid such a tragedy by contacting everyone who has key access, and asking them not to let themselves in while you’re not home, until you say otherwise. If access is via a passcode, change the passcode to prevent access until the Runaway Syndrome is over.

Your backyard is not as secure as you think.

Inspect your backyard before bringing a dog home, and don’t ever leave the dog unattended in the backyard. An agile dog may be able to jump any fence lower than 6 feet, and some dogs can jump even higher fences (especially if waste receptacles or other items can be used as “steps”). Dogs can easily dig their way out from under a fence, and some dogs have an instinct for finding a loose or broken fence slat. Chain link fences can be climbed easily, and some gate latches are no match for a smart dog.

Assume that your new dog is going to be smarter than you are about finding an escape route from your backyard! This doesn’t mean the backyard has to be off limits. It just means that you can never take your eyes off the dog while you are in the backyard together! Once the Runaway Syndrome has receded, you can be a bit more relaxed.

Walks can be extra hazardous

Be very careful on walks. If a leash will be attached to the dog’s collar, make sure the collar is tight enough that it won’t slip off. Consider using a Martingale-style collar that tightens when the dog tries to pull, or a slip lead that tightens similarly. If using a harness, or a head collar (such as a Halti or Gentle Leader), use a back-up clip that attaches to the collar. Don’t use a rigid handle leash (such as a Flexi) with a large dog, especially one who pulls. A traditional loop-handle leash is more likely to stay in your grasp, especially if you put your wrist all the way through the handle first before grasping the leash. 

But keep in mind that no method of leashing a dog is foolproof. There’s no substitute for paying close attention during walks, and reacting quickly if the dog assumes any posture that could mean slipping out of a collar, harness, or lead.

And don’t even think about going to an off-leash park! An off-leash area may seem like a great amenity. But you don’t know for sure how well-secured it is. You don’t know how your dog will behave when meeting other dogs, and you don’t know how other dogs will behave towards yours. You likely don’t know for sure that your dog will come back to you reliably when called. All of these and other factors make off-leash parks too risky, especially for a new dog.

Other suggestions for those first hours, days, and weeks.

Tour the house, keep your dog close, and take frequent potty breaks.Take the dog on a tour when she arrives at her new home. Keep her on leash and walk around with her so that she can sniff and explore the house. You can gradually take the dog off the leash as she learns about house rules and boundaries. Reinforce potty-training during this time with frequent potty breaks, and praise your new dog lavishly for doing her “business” outside!

Stay home!If possible, you should remain at home with the dog as much as possible, at least during the first few days. One dog was adopted from MaxFund right before his new dad had to take a rare week-long trip away from home, and his new mom worked full-time. Although she went home every day at mid-day, she found that the poor dog was so anxious about being left alone that he tried to chew his way out of his new home (as attested by tooth marks on the drywall and door frames). After that unfortunate start, this good dog never showed any other signs of separation anxiety. So the lesson learned was that the humans should have been smarter about the timing of their absences following adoption!

Delay the parties!A similar lesson applies to having visitors (or worse, a party) to celebrate the dog’s arrival! Keep the home situation stable and predictable for a while. Having a raucous party, or visitors popping in and out, can create additional stresses for the dog. Worse, your guests may not be as cautious as you when it comes to guarding the door, creating escape opportunities.

Shopping or other excursions? Maybe later!Limit trips for the dog to those that are absolutely necessary. For example, you might be inclined to take your new buddy shopping for new dog gear on his way home from the shelter. But think about all of the escape opportunities while getting in and out of your car, and while in a strange store, not to mention the stresses of all those strange people, things, and smells! Your dog will have a lot more fun going shopping if you hold off for a few weeks.

We humans know that stress can weaken our immune systems. The stresses of a new environment can have a similar impact on a dog’s immune system, contributing to the possibility of a new or recurring illness. This is another good reason to limit the dog’s excursions for a little while. All those new and unfamiliar destinations can add to both the dog’s stress levels, and the possibility of picking up an unwanted bug!

Certainly, you don’t want to delay needed veterinary attention. But if you’re contemplating a routine vet visit, determine whether it can wait for a few days. That way, you’ll give your new dog time to have full confidence in her new guardian…you! The vet visit can then be less stressful for everyone – you, your dog, and the vet!

A crate may be great!See if the shelter knows whether the dog has been crate-trained. A dog who’s been properly introduced to the crate will view it as a relaxing haven, and you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that she won’t be wreaking havoc around the house (and possibly hurting herself). Don’t crate a dog for more than a few hours at a time, and don’t use a crate until and unless you know the dog is crate-trained. A dog who’s not crate-trained may be traumatized by the confinement, and may injure himself trying to get out. 

Get help!A trainer may be able to give you behavioral suggestions for easing the transition to a new and happy life together. A trainer can also help you with the basics of crate-training. Training classes can help both of you brush up on the skills needed to form a lasting bond of mutual trust. MaxFund’s staff includes a great trainer who will be happy to consult with you.


If a dog’s lucky enough to have been adopted by you (and vice versa), don’t let the Runaway Syndrome cause a reversal of fortune that could be tragic. By understanding the dog’s perspective about homecoming, and by taking extra precautions to prevent the dog from escaping, you can help ensure that the two of you will have a long and happy life together.

You Can Afford to Give Your Pet a Luxurious Life

Photo by Pexels

Do you have a cat or dog you dote on? If you’re a pet lover, you may want to give your four-legged family member a life of luxury, and have everything they need to be happy. Fortunately, your pet can live life in style and you can pamper your pet without spending a fortune. 

It Starts with a Good Bed

Whether your pet sleeps at your feet or on your pillow during the night, they deserve a plush bed for their daytime naps. Don’t keep the chewed up pillow in the corner, and opt for something suited just for them. Not only will your pet enjoy the ultimate comfort, but they can also lounge in style with fashionable daybeds that will delight your pooch, and be a great accent to your home. These don’t have to be expensive, and you can find great deals on all the best pet beds if you search for coupons and discounts. If you’re crafty, you can even try a DIY bed, and with a variety of fun materials, you can watch the savings add up. 

Who Doesn’t Love Treats?

One of the best ways to give your pet a luxurious life is with amazing treats they’ll love. Why settle for cheap treats that are bad for your pet’s health? Find luxury treats at a great price, and find the flavors that make your pet go wild. If you’re of a mind to make them yourself, it’s easy to whip up a scrumptious biscuit they’ll love. Look for recipes that use standard kitchen ingredients like peanut butter or pumpkin, many of which you can find on sale at the grocery store. 

The Best Bath

Do you have a pet that loves baths? Pamper your pet with a luxurious bath and brushing to shower them with love. You don’t have to take your pet to a luxury spa to give them the royal treatment. A great bath doesn’t have to be expensive, and you can easily find all the pet supplies you need using coupons and cashback offers to get great deals. Find apet shampoo that will leave your pet smelling amazing, and that softens their fur and pampers their skin. Dry your pet with their favorite towel and give them lots of love. Don’t forget to finish the bath with some of those tasty treats.

Finding a Friend

Are you worried your pet isn’t socializing enough? If your pet spends a lot of time indoors, or you don’t often visit the dog park, you may wonder if your pet feels lonely. You can find companionship for your pet on websites like Pets Dating, and help your pet find friends or even romance. No luxurious life is complete without friends, and best of all, this site is completely free to use for the best in budget-friendly luxury. 

Party Planning

Is your pet’s birthday right around the corner? If you have a dog with lots of furry friends, why not host a party? Give your dog luxurious treatment, and don’t settle for a simple chew toy gift. You could hire a party planning service, but planning it on your own will make party planning more affordable and fun. Choose a theme, get some decorations, and find the perfect gift for your pet, like a toy they’ll love, or a new pillow for their bed. Make sure you have treats for all your pet’s friends and some snacks for all the adults.

Show your pet how much you love them by giving them a luxurious life. They deserve every comfort, the best food, and time with pet friends. You can give your pet an amazing life without breaking the bank, so keep your eyes peeled for coupons and cashback offers to get great deals on all the luxury merchandise you and your pet will love.

MaxFund's Annual Holiday Open House

Saturday, December 14, 2019 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Bring a donation for our shelter, and get your pup’s picture with Santa!
Refreshments | Bake Sale | Adoption Center Tours Christmas Merchandise Sale
Purchase an ornament from our Christmas Tree.

Come fill our sleigh with donations:
Retail pet products to sell such as leashes, collars, toys, bowls, etc. Gift baskets | Art, etc.

5 Great Apps That Will Help You and Your New Dog Adjust

5 Great Apps That Will Help You and Your New Dog Adjust

To some extent, adopting a dog is like having a baby; it's one of those things you learn as you go. It's natural to feel overwhelmed, but once you discover all the great apps that are designed to help you and your dog adjust, you'll be wagging your tail in no time! So pull out your smartphone and let's dive in.

Animal Poison by ASPCA

You've probably heard that there are certain foodsthat dogs can't have. Foods like chocolate, grapes, and onions are off-limits. You've probably also heard that dogs don't care - some will eat anything they can get to! 

Animal Poison by ASPCAhelps you in those times when your dog eats something he shouldn't. The app features a searchable database of toxic foods, plants, and chemicals. It also helps you connect directly with the ASPCA poison control to help you find out whether Fido simply has a tummy ache or needs to be seen right away.  

Dog Monitor & Pet Cam By Annie

If you have to leave your pet while you go to work or run to the store, you may find yourself wondering what your dog is up to (or how thosechew markson your kitchen cabinets got there). The Dog Monitor & Pet Cam by Annieallows you to keep an eye on your new furry friend. But it gets better! In addition to watching your pet, you can also talk to him by activating the microphone. It’s a separation anxietysolution for you both!

Say Bark!

Your dog is part of your family. So, naturally, he should be part of your holiday card, and now you can include your pooch in fabulously unique ways. CNET explains that the Say Bark!app allows you to create hilarious and/or heartwarming video greetings starring Fido to send to all of your friends. Whether it’s a special birthday or an everyday hello, just dress him, throw on some music, and let your pup steal the show. 

Paw Tracks

One of the best ways to have fun with your new dog is to go for a walk. Just make sure to bring a sturdy leash and this app. Paw Tracksallows you to track your route and record where your dog stopped to take a pit stop, and it can help you with other health information as well. For instance, if your dog is on a special diet, you might want to track his meals. Paw Tracks does that too, and the app allows multiple users so you can share the info with your spouse, child, or dog walker. 

Optimize Your Apps

If you want to get the most out of these apps, you might find you need a newer phone. Feature-rich apps sometimes weigh down older models, but there are plenty of new makes and models to pick from. For example, Samsung’s line is available from Verizon with options at every price point, andplans includethings like the Echo Dot and unlimited data. You can search for your favorite features, like a generous display, a terrific camera, and ample battery life. 

Wired notes Apple fans can pick from iPhones with features like speedy processing, abundant memory, and amazing photo capabilities. Just think about what will keep you grinning and your pup’s tail wagging, and load up with your pick of fun and educational apps.

There's nothing like bringing home a new pet. While it can be intimidating at first, it's nothing you can't handle with the right support. There are many resources available to new dog owners; just check these apps out and explore what they have to offer. You're sure to find just what you and Fido need.

Star - MaxFund's "Employee" of the Week!

One of our volunteers has an amazing job where her company allows her to take a MaxFund dog along to work with her. These are not just a break from the shelter for the pups, but an opportunity for us to get to know them better outside of the shelter environment. 

I took Star to work with me today! 

She was TERRIFIED of the car. Laid down in the road and refused to get in. I had to pick her up and put her in the car. So, Star is ok with being picked up, but we will need to practice showing her that car rides can be fun. Once she was in, she was a pretty mellow passenger!

When we got here, I walked her around the office like I do with all the dogs so she could get to know her new surroundings a little bit. She seemed a little intimidated/overwhelmed - I think this is the first time shes been out of the shelter since she joined us.

She didn't want to be confined to my office at first, so she paced around a bit, but once she felt comfortable, she took up a post by the door so she could keep an eye on everyone else in the office. I was worried at first she was going to be my first Tuesday fail and I'd have to bring her back because she was too high energy and distracting, but once she settled down, she did really great!

She does really, really great with verbal commands. She knows her name, she knows come here, and she was really responsive to both! She knew what I wanted her to do most of the time. This included staying put in my office when I left - she didn't try to sneak out! 

She is a pro at the elbow nuzzle to get her head under your arm so you will pet her. It was impossible to resist! I got a pic of her smile as she does it, too.

The office dog wasn't sure what he thought about her and kept barking, but she was absolutely infatuted with him (see them staring at each other across my door). We introduced them in the afternoon and she did great, even understanding that he just wasn't that interested in her.

She liked keeping an eye on things through the door more than lying next to me, so I set up the bed and blanket as some extra padding for her hips by the door. She liked watching everyone walk by!

Star was her super snuggly self all day long with me, and I absolutely adored having her as my partner for the day. I think she would make a great office dog - which is not what I thought I would walk away from today saying! She's quiet, well behaved, and calm. She wants snuggles, and to keep her eye on things. She is absolutely devoted to her "person" - and today, I was lucky enough to be that for her.

Star truly is a star...seriously. She is cuddly and sweet, smart, happy, goofy, and gosh, I just love her. I was already a big fan but if possible, I love her even more now!