Chapter 5
How To Know The Best Source For Your Dog
Ask Owners Lots of Questions when Considering Give-Away Dogs. The best thing you can do to protect yourself when you're getting a give-away dog is to ask owners intelligent questions. The right questions will help you determine how the dog was raised and how dog-savvy the owner is. Dog-savvy owners are more likely to have done a good job raising their dog resulting in a higher quality pet. Where did you get the dog? Where the owner got the dog can tell you a lot about the owner and the dog. Owners who get dogs from responsible breeders typically start out being more invested in their dog ownership and are more likely to make every effort to provide for the needs of the dog. If the owner got the dog from a breeder, ask for the breeder's name and contact information and research the breeder. If the dog came from a pet shop, animal shelter, rescue, commercial breeder, or backyard breeder you'll know that it may have a greater risk for medical, temperament or behavioral problems. How long have you had the dog? Owners who have had the dog only days probably haven't had enough time to teach it bad habits. The dog may be starting to display some negative behaviors but a little firm and consistent training can probably overcome those minor tendencies. If the owner has had the dog for months or years however, the dog may have well-established bad habits. Dogs that are poorly socialized during puppyhood or dogs that have had inconsistent or non-existent training may display behavioral issues that you might need months or years to overcome, if you will be able to do so at all. How old is the dog? Always confirm the age with the owner, even if it seems obvious that the dog is a puppy or young adult. If the owner can't tell you how old the dog is, it probably came from an animal shelter or rescue. If the dog is an adult or elderly, you'll have to consider whether you want a dog that you'll have for a shorter period of time than if you'd gotten a puppy or adolescent dog. But a dog over about the age of three has a distinct advantage over a younger dog- they are much more likely to display any genetically-based medical condition they have inherited than a puppy. Why are you giving the dog away? Some owners will be honest and tell you that the dog is too active or that they've had a change in circumstances that requires them to find a new home for the dog. Other owners may be evasive when you ask this question. If owners are being vague, it could be that they're embarrassed that they can't keep the dog due to personal circumstances, but it could also be because the dog has behavioral problems that they don't want to discuss. Has the dog been health certified? Dogs that come from responsible breeders may be OFA Certified, CERF Certified or BAER Certified. Dogs that come from backyard breeders, commercial breeders, puppy mills or pet shops probably don't have health certifications. If the dog doesn't have a health certification, you have no way of assessing whether it's likely to develop genetic health conditions later in life. Even if the dog does have health certifications it's not a guarantee that the dog is healthy, only that the dog was healthy at the time of its last certification. Have you done any training with the dog? Ideally, the owner will have undergone at least a basic obedience training course with the dog. Ask if the dog knows any commands, and what training method the owner has used. Positive reinforcement or clicker training are some of the most effective training methods. Alpha training, assertiveness training and punishment-based training can lead to a fearful dog and create other behavioral issues. No training can indicate the dog may have bad habits that will need time and training to correct.