Adopting a Dog
Our rescue shelters are full of excellent dogs. Most of them are stray dogs that have been found wandering the streets, but some have been brought in by owners who didn’t want them or couldn’t look after them anymore.
Why do dogs end up in the rescue shelters?
Most of those dogs are simply misunderstood, and by misunderstood I mean the dogs who have been raised by owners who could not speak dog. These owners who didn’t give the canine what it instinctually needed created a problematic dog with issues.
The two main reasons a dog develops issues are lack of exercise and lack of leadership. Humans forget they are dealing with a canine animal not a human and too many times do not give the dog what it needs as an animal. Instead they expect the dog to act like a perfect image they had in their minds without putting the necessary work in.
The good news is since dogs live in the moment and they do not dwell in the past or think of the future, it is absolutely possible to take a full grown dog and start over. If you do it right, you will see a totally different dog from the owners who dumped him.
What should I know before adopting a dog?
If you are thinking about rehoming a dog your first task is to find the right dog. This is going to take time on your part, and should begin before you even set foot in a shelter. Not every dog is a match for every human family.
Start with deciding what size of dog you would like. Study the different breeds so when you get to the pound you have a general idea of what a wide variety of breeds are like. There are two main things you should look for. One is the dog’s energy level and the other one is the dog’s dominancy level. By studying a wide variety of breeds before you get to the pound or shelter you should be able to make a more educated guess as to what type of dog will work for you.
You should choose a dog with the same or lower energy level than your own. You also need to take a serious look at your family’s personality. Are you the laid-back, not very active type or are you more authority-driven and active? If your family is passive, a dominant dog would be a horrible match for you. If your family is more assertive and can easily provide structure you may be able to handle a more dominant type. If you are a laid-back, like to watch TV type of family then choosing a very high energy dog that needs to go on daily jogs would not be a good match for you.
After you have a good general idea of what types of dogs will work for you and everyone in the house is in agreement about adopting a dog, it is time to start looking at different pounds and rescues for the right match. Do not think that you need to come home with a dog on the first day. If you choose poorly and bring home a dog that does not match your family you may hurt the dog you are trying to save more than you are helping it. Dogs that are repeatedly returned to the shelter have a higher rate of being killed. Take your time and choose wisely.
How to meet and greet a dog we want to adopt?
When greeting a dog behind a cage turn your body sideways and do not look him in the eyes. Allow him to smell you through the cage. Do not put your fingers through the openings of the cage. Be calm. Dogs are able to feel your emotions and they do not read human emotion the same way humans do. A very important point to remember when adopting a rescue dog is NOT TO FEEL SORRY FOR THE DOG. Dogs interpret the emotion of pity as weakness.
Refrain from giving the dog hugs and kisses at this time. You have a mission for the day and the more successful you are, the more hugs and kisses you will later be able to give your new friend. To a human a hug is affection. It symbolizes love. For a dog a hug symbolizes dominance and invasion of space. By hugging your dog, you will be invading his space by wrapping your body on top of his before he has gotten the chance to know you and before he has gotten the chance to figure out his place in this new pack. Even if this particular dog does not seem to mind your hugs and kisses, in order to properly ease the dog into their new life you must act like a dog and refrain from your human affection until you communicate some key rules and boundaries to your new family member. This will lessen the stress level for the dog and possibly prevent a bite due to a lack of human-canine communication.
Do not go straight home with your new family member. You need to walk your dog before you bring it home and establish yourself as the leader of the pack in your dog’s new life BEFORE you get to your house.
Taking the time to “speak dog” will make all the difference in your relationship with your dog, as opposed to the failed one the prior owners had with the dog. A dog that was one person’s worst nightmare can be the best thing that ever happened to you. Exercise, canine understanding and communication are the keys to success.