Adopter Stephanie Tran shares her experience of bringing Mila, a small puppy  into her Toronto apartment.  Follow Stephanie on Instagram @Mila_TheRescue

My job at a boarding facility has taught me a lot about dogs. I've met and worked with dogs of all breeds, temperaments, and ages. It has really helped prepare me for my own dog and I felt confident and ready. With the skills and knowledge I gained from work, it took about 2-3 months for Mila to finally come out of her shell.


When Mila (previously Millie) arrived in Toronto, she showed signs of fearfulness. She was very sensitive to loud noises, strangers, and sometimes even other dogs. Coming from a rural shelter to a big city like Toronto was a big transition. I took an entire week off from work to be with her. Everyone understood that I needed time off to be with my new adopted dog.

I saw amazing results with her. I worked with her nonstop, day and night and now she's absolutely the most goofiest, sweetest, active, intelligent, loyal and protective German/Belgian shepherd mutt I've ever met.

Never ever force your dog into something that she/he doesn't want. Before I started any type of training with Mila, I had to build a bond with her first so she knew who to trust. Show your dog that you are here to protect them, feed them, and love them. Now I don’t mean shower them with hugs and kisses every minute. That would frighten your dog because they’re living with strangers they barely know! By building a bond, you can just simply and easily offer treats, their meal, and providing a comfortable place to sleep.

When a bond is built, eventually you'll be able to read your dog like a book. You'll be able to understand what triggers their fears, what makes them calm, happy, when they will bark, when they need to go out, and so on. Take things extra slow and move at their pace. Your dog will let you know when they feel comfortable and when you are taking things too fast. If you take things too fast, move back a step. Things will get frustrating along the way and that's ok. It happens. Just breathe, try again later or the next day. It's a lot for you and the dog to take in! Never give up!

One thing to always keep in mind is that are from a shelter, and they are used to all the sights, smells, and sounds there. They are coming to a new home and a new environment. They don't understand our language, they are not use to the street lights, walking on leash is new for some of them. Everything is totally different!  It is our job to make them feel comfortable and safe. They are incredible at understanding body language, it is universal.

All dogs do come around and come out of their shell. It just takes lots of patience and dedication. It can take weeks, even months. All your hard work will pay off in the end and you will have the most loving, intelligent, and confident companion.