Chapter 5
How To Know The Best Source For Your Dog

Free Dogs

Free to a good home/give-away dogs or owners selling their dogs directly may be a viable option for you. In the ideal situation, owners must find new homes for their dogs due to a change in circumstances, personal life or housing or an owner dies or becomes disabled and is no longer able to care for his dog. Each of these circumstances can provide a great opportunity to get a well-trained dog. But give-away dogs can also come with their own set of problems. Sometimes owners get a dog with the best intentions, and then find that they simply don't have the time, energy or activity levels to match the dog. This mismatch may be easy for you to overcome if you do have what the previous owner was unable to give the dog. However, if this situation resulted in a poorly socialized dog, unless you are experienced with dogs, you may be well served by finding another dog. In either case, make sure you pay attention to the dog when you meet it. Is the dog well-trained? Does it sit calmly under the owner's control or does it jump up and generally show a lack of training? Owners with a Change in Circumstances. In some cases, even the most committed owners have a change in circumstances that require them to find new homes for their dogs. This may take the form of a divorce or relocation. In other cases, people die or become disabled and no longer be able to care for their dog. While it's unfortunate for the owners, this is the best-case-scenario for people who are considering a give-away dog. Committed owners may have taken their dogs to training classes, socialized them properly as puppies giving them a good foundation to become well-mannered adults. Committed owners may have acquired their dogs from responsible breeders, and had proper veterinary care both of which may result in a reduced chance for health problems. However, not all owners who give away their pets due to a change in circumstances are responsible owners. While you have a better chance of finding a dog with fewer behavioral problems and personality quirks with an owner forced to give up his dog due to personal circumstances, you'll still find some owners who didn't take their dogs to training classes or got their dogs from a high-risk source. Don't assume that just because an owner is giving away his dog that you're getting a good dog. You still need to ask the right questions. Owners who got "Too Much Dog". Another category of owners voluntarily surrender their dogs after realizing they've gotten "too much dog." These owners may have wanted a high-energy dog to exercise with, only to find that their dog wanted more exercise than they did. Or they may have gotten an intelligent dog because they wanted a dog that was easy to train, only to realize the dog out thought them during training. When these dogs don't work out, owners sometimes give them away. Owners with this mindset typically have two approaches: either they're trying to find a good home for the dog, or they simply want the dog to be someone else's problem. In the former case, these owners will ask questions about your lifestyle and your experience with dogs, or this breed in particular. In the latter case, the owner will tell you how great the dog is, practically begging you to take it off his hands. Beware of owners who are simply trying to get rid of their dogs. Dogs that live with mismatched owners for long periods of time may be more prone to behavioral and temperament issues than other dogs. These dogs may have developed bad habits that will require a significant commitment to training to resolve. If you're not prepared to make that commitment, you'll just inherit a dog with bad habits, and if you can't correct them, you may find yourself trying to give the dog away too.