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Adopting a Rescue Dog


Adopting an unwanted dog from an animal shelter can be a good idea for many people who want a dog. Some prospective dog owners are put off the idea because they believe that these canines are difficult animals, that they were only abandoned because of behavioural difficulties. In most cases, this is very far from the truth. Most dogs end up in a dog shelter for various reasons other than their own behaviour or personality. Common reasons are things such as the owners no longer have time to look after a dog, they're moving from a house into an apartment, they owners are divorcing and neither of them can or want to take the dog, the owner dies or goes into a nursing home, the owner cannot afford the costs of owning a dog, or a new baby is expected and the dog doesn't “fit in” to the new lifestyle. These dogs are good, well-trained, well-behaved and loyal pets and they are seeking a new home through no fault of their own.

Rescue dogs can be a very good choice for many people who simply don't want the difficulties that training a young puppy can entail. It goes without saying that puppies need a lot of time and patience to house-train them, to socialize them, to teach them how to be a good dog in later life. In a rescue dog, you will find very often that this initial hard work has already been done, and you will be able to give a homeless dog a good home that he will truly appreciate.

It is of course necessary to bear in mind that some rescue dogs will have initial problems in adjusting to a new environment and a new lifestyle, they may need re-training or need to “un-learn” habits, but you will probably find that this is less work than the training a puppy needs in the first year of its life! An adult dog has the advantages of being calmer, and his looks, temperament and size will already be established and known.

If you are seriously considering adopting a homeless dog then the first thing to do is to find out as much as you can about the dog's history. If he is in a shelter, the staff there will be able to tell you everything they know. If the dog is still with his owners, then ask them as many questions as possible to get an idea of where the dog came from and what life he has led, what training he has received and any medical history that is available. Find out the age of the dog if possible, if he has been house-trained, if he is used to children and other animals, if he happy travelling in the car. Has the dog been neutered, wormed and inoculated? Are there any on-going behavioural problems that you should be aware of? Make a list of questions and write some notes to help you remember any important points. It is important to bear in mind that a dog's behaviour at a shelter may not be representative of his behaviour in your home. Try to see the dog at least a couple of times before deciding to adopt him, and take him for a walk on the lead if possible to see how he walks and how he responds to you on a one-to-one basis.

Once you have taken gone ahead and adopted your dog, begin straight away with consistent kind firmness. Establish the rules from the moment the dig enters your home so that he can learn what is expected of him. Remember he will be confused by his change of surroundings and may well miss his previous owners, the shelter staff or other dogs. If he has not been house-trained or is confused about what he should do in your home, start a firm but kind training schedule to teach him where he must toilet in the future. Positive reward-based training is the best course of action – be firm, consistent and above all, patient!

Make an appointment with your vet to have the dog examined and establish an inoculation schedule. Some behavioural problems and house-training difficulties can stem from medical problems, especially in older dogs, so your vet may be able to advise you about these too.

If this is your first dog, then read lots of books and articles about caring for and training your new friend. Search for different games and ways of interacting together that also build obedience, confidence and a bond between the two of you. With patience and understanding, rescuing a homeless dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life for both you and your dog.

Submitted by:

Justine Kay

Justine Kay is an experienced dog owner and trainer. She is the webmistress at http://www.dogs-trainingtips.com where she writes dog training articles and discusses the intricacies of dog psychology.





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