Update on 88 Dogs brought in from Alberta SPCA


We have had many people ask for more information about the 88 dogs we brought in from Alberta SPCA a few weeks ago. Short answer: the dogs are doing pretty well but we still have some work to do. Most of them are chihuahua or yorkie breeds and a lot of them came to us with health and behaviour issues. Many have had surgery or are undergoing behaviour enrichment and are recovering and learning in foster homes, others have already been adopted!

One thing we have noticed about these dogs is their extreme level of fear. In fact the level of fear they are displaying is not something we see every day here at Calgary Humane Society. That is why we wanted to share some tips for those looking to adopt one of these dogs or any fearful dog for that matter.

Adopting a Fearful Dog? Here are 6 things to consider first:

  1. What to expect: These dogs have had a tough start to life and are not your typical pups. They have missed out on crucial life and social skills, making every new experience scary and overwhelming. They will need experienced dog owners with lots of patience to help introduce them to leashes, harnesses, baths, nail trims, new people, crates, the great outdoors and the process of house training. Right now all interactions need to be slow and positive so these dogs can grow into confident pooches who enjoy the company of people.
  2. Why are many of these dogs Managed Adoptions: The majority of our adoptable animals are available through our regular adoption process which is first come first serve – no appointment necessary! However sometimes we have animals that come in to CHS who have detailed medical or behaviour needs and require a very specific home. These animals are best served by a ‘managed adoption’ which means, by appointment through our Adoption team. Often a behaviour or medical consultation will happen at the time of your visit. The process can be a bit longer however it really is the best way to set these animals up for success and ensure you are finding the right match for your home and family. To find out if the animal you are interested in is considered a managed adoption, check out their biography on our website.
  3. When will they be available for adoption? We are moving up these dogs as soon as they are deemed ready by our Health and Behaviour teams so please watch our website as all available and managed adoption dogs will appear there!
  4. Why are some of them grouped together? Most of these dogs are very fearful and therefore do better in groups until they feel confident enough to be on their own. Sometimes they are so scared they won’t even go to the bathroom outside and become scared when someone even enters their kennel. Our Animal Care and Adoptions teams are doing their best to keep these kennels clean without going in too often which can raise their fear levels a lot. It can be a delicate balance but we are seeing some amazing progress!
  5. What type of household are these animals looking for? This varies on each dog but as you will see on many of their biographies on our website, most would do best in homes without small children. Due to the level of fear these dogs are displaying many will need medication and a quiet home environment to really thrive. If you have young children and want to adopt, please speak to one of our Adoption counsellors so we can help find the right dog for you!
  6. How can I support a fearful dog once I have them in my home? We recommend going slow. Take your time and be patient. Many of these dogs will need medication to help them deal with their fear and many need to learn how to be a dog. Most don’t have basic social skills and need to learn things like how to walk on a leash, go to the bathroom outside etc.. Our Behaviour team will recommend you take our Fearful Fido or small dog focused Polite Pooches course, and will be there to help you both transition into your new life together.

Have more questions? Please contact our Adoptions team at 403-205-4455 or come in and see us!

To donate to the care of these dogs, please click here 


Many of these dogs have missed out on crucial life and social skills, making every new experience scary and overwhelming. Our Animal Care Team had to work carefully to give these little guys a bath and help them feel comfortable.