Chapter 5
How To Know The Best Source For Your Dog
Types of Dogs in Animal Shelters. The most difficult part of getting your new dog from an animal shelter is sorting through the many different dogs you will find there. A wide variety of dogs make their way to animal shelters in many ways. The type of dog breeder and how it came to reside in an animal shelter may determine whether you've found your new best friend, or a canine catastrophe. Remember, the only source for dogs is their breeder. If you can determine the kind of breeder that bred the dog, you can have a much better understanding of the risk you take for getting a dog with a genetic disease should you decide to adopt that dog. Well-Trained Dogs Surrendered by Families. The ideal scenario for adopting a dog from an animal shelter is to find a well-trained, well-mannered pooch that a family just couldn't keep. Generally, if families are willing and able to invest the time in training and doing a good job raising them, they keep their dogs. However, sometimes personal circumstances change and people can simply no longer keep their dog. Perhaps a couple has split up and new housing does not permit dogs. Maybe a new spouse or family member is allergic to dogs. In some cases, owners become disabled or die and a new home must be found for their dog. These scenarios are more common than they might seem. It is quite possible to find a well-mannered, well-trained dog in an animal shelter especially if you're willing to be patient and you form a relationship with the shelter staff. If the shelter's staff knows what you're looking for, they might be willing to call you when a dog comes in that fits your criteria. Poorly-Trained Dogs that Families Couldn't Handle. A more common scenario for dogs surrendered to shelters is finding poorly-trained dogs that families simply couldn't handle. It's far too common for a family to decide to get a dog for the kids, for companionship, as an exercise partner, or just because it's cute and then realize the dog isn't a good match for their lifestyles or they really aren't in a position to raise a dog at all. Unfortunately, when this happens the dog often has little or no training, may be highly energetic and be under exercised or may have other characteristics that make it unsuitable for many households. With time and patience, many of these challenges can be resolved. These shelter dogs will typically benefit greatly from obedience training and a proper exercise program and can become one of the most loving companions imaginable. Some of these dogs may also have behavioral problems as a result of poor socialization or abuse in their previous homes. Beyond dealing with basic training and exercise requirements, these dogs may require a stronger commitment to desensitization, specialized training techniques and other methods to resolve or minimize these behavioral problems. In some cases, the behavioral problems cannot be resolved, and owners must be committed to working within the boundaries of these issues. The key when considering a shelter dog with these challenges is to not romanticize the idea of 'rescuing' a dog, but instead look realistically at the amount of time and effort you can devote to training and exercise. Dog ownership requires a time commitment under any circumstances, but adopting a shelter dog "project" will require a much more substantial commitment of time for training, exercise and bonding. If you can't meet that commitment you will be better served by finding a dog that is better suited to your interests and abilities.