Visiting an animal shelter can be an emotional experience for an animal lover. It’s difficult to see all the animals in their pens and not want to take them all home. Such feelings are understandable and commendable; however, just be sure that prior to adoption you consider all of the ramifications. And remember, your best friend is waiting for you at your local animal shelter.
Why are animal shelters always filled with animals waiting to be adopted? Well, lack of neutering dogs is a major contributor. Shockingly, it has been calculated that over a six year period, one female dog and her offspring will, if allowed access to male dogs at the relevant times, produce 67,000 puppies! Small wonder that there are more animals looking for homes than there are people who want to adopt them.
Sadly, some 6.5 million animals (mainly cats and dogs) are euthanized each year in the United States alone.
Given the above statistics, it goes without saying that adopting an animal can be a kind and loving thing to do.
But before thinking seriously about adoption, there are a number of things that you should consider.
Many of the animals awaiting adoption in shelters have had a very poor history. Some were abused, some abandoned and some were turned in because the owners had grown tired of the novelty, changed their lifestyle in a manner which didn't include a dog, or simply didn’t have time for them.
A large number of shelter dogs have been left alone for long periods and some were never house trained.
So if you're thinking of adopting a dog from an animal shelter, you need to be prepared to work with them.
Many adopted dogs will come to the new surroundings filled with fears based upon earlier mistreatment or the harsh rules of their previous owners. Some dogs will be reluctant to go from one room to another, will shy away when corrected and hide upon hearing a loud noise. New owners must be patient with them and speak to them softly and affectionately.
A shelter dog may be overly sensitive to your tone of voice or to any commands you may give them. You must be prepared to be patient. And you must be prepared to be loving to your new dog, without necessarily receiving any love or acknowledgment in return. Dogs are reasonably intelligent, and they will gradually come to understand their new environment and show their appreciation for your loving care
When shelter dogs finally realize that they can trust you they will likely reward you with more affection and loyalty than you can imagine.
Adopted dogs are subject to all of the behavioral problems commonly associated to dogs in general. These would include digging, jumping up on people, jumping fences, barking and nipping. There are proven solutions to all of these “offences. ” If your dog is prone to digging, and always digs in one area, there are a number of effective repellent sprays that work well. If he digs under your fence, a little buried chicken wire works wonders in breaking that habit. Spray bottles filled with water should be kept at hand to break a dog from jumping up and to combat incessant barking. A quick spritz in the face immediately following, or during, the offensive behavior will usually bring about a quick behavior modification.
If thinking about adopting a dog, you should be prepared to deal with the prospect that your new dog may not be completely housebroken. Previous owners may have been irresponsible in their approach to this training, and/or the change of environment to the shelter coupled with the trauma of being abandoned (in whatever circumstances) by its previous owner, may have resulted in the dog continuing to do its “business” right in its pen.
Housetraining is not a relatively straightforward training issue which should not deter you from adopting a dog. Crate training is recommended to assist in this training, and walking your new dog and letting him out in the yard several times a day will also help. Fenced yards and doggie doors are minimal expenses and are essential if you have a dog.
Adopting a dog as a companion for a small child is not recommended. A dog is not a toy and should never be treated as one. Small children must be trained to understand “animal etiquette”. In other words, animals are not to be hit, dragged, ridden or teased. But with shelter dogs in particular, small children may not be safe around them.
Children should be taught that being overly aggressive with a new dog, especially one recently adopted, could cause the dog to react by biting or running away. If feeding and exercising the dog is to be the responsibility of a child, an adult must follow up and take ultimate responsibility for the dog.
Brigitte Smith runs two websites about various aspects of dog care. Request your special free report on improving your dog's health here: Healthy Happy Dogs or here: Dog Health Care Information