Note: This is a guest post written by Christie from Hey, Djangles. Thanks Christie!
Adopting a dog can be a life-changing and incredibly rewarding experience.
Not only are you saving a life by giving a dog that’s down on its luck a 2nd shot at a happy home, but you’re also helping to support other animals in need by way of your adoption fee. Pretty good right?!
Whilst there are lots of reasons for adopting vs buying a dog, there are also several very important things you should consider before deciding on the adoptive dog that is right for you.
In today’s post, we’ll be looking at 5 things you should know before adopting a dog:
1. The dog’s history might be patchy or unknown
Often when adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organisation, their history (including medical history) can be a bit patchy, especially if they’ve come to the shelter/rescue as a stray.
In these cases, while rescue staff will do their best to identify any serious behavioural and/or temperament issues whilst in their care, sometimes this is not always possible.
That said, when looking to adopt a dog from one of these types of organisations, new owners should be prepared to dedicate time to learning what makes their new dog tick, what they like/dislike, what they’re sensitive to and also their potential behavioural triggers.
2. You need to be patient with them…
Dogs that have been rehomed need time to re-adjust.
Being around new people, surroundings and routines can be scary, especially if they’ve spent time in a shelter or even homeless prior to being adopted.
Be patient with them, and remember to introduce new experiences gradually over the course of several weeks and months, rather than overwhelming them with everything all at once.
Unlike puppies from a breeder, adopted dogs don’t usually come with a “clean slate” and as such, need time to establish and learn new rules and routines.
3. Some adopted dogs lack basic training
Dogs end up in shelters and rescues for a variety of reasons, and often through no fault of their own.
Some come as strays, whilst others are surrendered due to financial hardship, lifestyle changes, family breakdown, a lack of time (or interest) on the owner’s part and/or a lack of general knowledge about the breed’s specific training needs and exercise requirements.
As a result, some (not all) dogs end up in care with very little to no prior training.
It’s not that these dogs are “naughty” per-se, it’s just that they’ve never had that special someone to teach them (in a positive way) which behaviours are acceptable and which aren’t.
4. Their social skills might need some work
Leading on from point 3 (and for many of the same reasons), some dogs in care have missed out on valuable socialisation opportunities as pups.
You see, between the ages of 3 and 17 weeks, dogs have what is known as a ‘critical socialisation period’. During this time, dogs are particularly sensitive to new experiences and interactions.
Positive experiences and interactions ensure the pup grows into a well-adjusted adult, whilst negative ones (or a lack of socialisation opportunities all together) can have the opposite effect.
Unfortunately, many (but certainly not all) dogs that end up in care have missed out to some extent when it comes to critical socialisation opportunities, meaning that when taking on these dogs, some re-training may be required.
Top tip: If you’re looking to adopt a dog and already have another dog at home, it is always advisable to bring your pooch to the shelter/rescue beforehand for a supervised meet-up, just to make sure they are a good fit for each other.
5. You can’t be 100% certain of their breed or lineage
Finally, unless a dog has been surrendered with papers (which does sometimes happen), many dogs available for adoption are crossbreeds.
This is by no means a bad thing, but it does mean that without DNA testing, you can never be 100% certain of the dog’s breed or lineage (although you might have your suspicions!).
This is obviously not the case when buying a dog from a breeder.
Welcoming an adoptive dog into your family shouldn’t be a decision that is taken lightly. Whilst adoption fees might be small, your investment in time, patience and perseverance will be far greater. Rest assured though, what you put in you’ll get back in spades – in love, loyalty, and life-long companionship!
About the author:
Christie is a self-confessed crazy dog lady, humble spaniel servant and founder of Hey, Djangles., a lifestyle website for dog-lovers. Christie has a background in Marketing and Companion Animal Services and loves nothing more than spending time with her two crazy Cockers, Ollie and Django.