This article written by me (Jenn Higgins) will be posted in parts, as it will be too long to put in just one blog. Stay tuned 😛
It is a fact, that a lot of, if not most of the huge number of dogs being re-homed, sent to shelters and rescued, or sold in the attempt to make a profit…are all the end result of common and all too frequent mistakes made by people getting a new pup or dog. despite the over abundance of information IE education out there, accessible by just a click of a button, we still see it over and over again. In this article I will try to outline each of the most common problems we see. Keep in mind that there are always exceptions to every rule…and that there are indeed some very understandable reasons why some dogs need to be re-homed. This post is in no way to degrade or look down upon those situations…but to instead, highlight some key points to think of before ever bringing that new cute puppy home.
– Not doing enough research on the breed of dog one is getting (if any is done at all) Not understanding or coming to terms with the reality of living with that breed…the specific requirements of the dog, as well as taking individual qualities and/or issues that may crop up.
This is so rampant it’s not funny. Someone sees a cute puppy in a picture, on an ad site, out on a walk…and all of the sudden they just “have” to have that kind of dog. Or they see it on a tv show, movie, commercial and that’s the dog they want…RIGHT NOW. No thought whatsoever is put into the fact that although every puppy is cute, cuddly and adorable, not every puppy who will indeed GROW UP TO BE A DOG…is the right one for them. In fact, very few people have a huge list of suitable breeds that actually match their lifestyle. So we have Mr. & Mrs. Jones rushing out to get this cute puppy,not realizing, or considering that the pup they just picked up, is a very high energy breed…one that needs continual training, socialization, mental and physical excercise multiple times per day, may have a host of health issues that is common to that breed of dog, has specific feeding requirements,etc. Perhaps they didn’t take into account that this dog may not be great with children, of which the Jones’ have three. So what happens when reality sets in? The pooch gets dumped on the first willing rescue or person who will take him.
There is a reason different breeds were created. They are all different in their own ways, while at the same time, sharing certain similarities. They each had their own job that they were bred to do. While many breeds no longer retain much of the original working purpose they were bred for, nor used in that way, many others still do. In fact there are quite a few breeds that to this day REQUIRE work, in order to be stable, happy and healthy. Dogs like Border Collies, GSD’s, Malinois…without a steady stream of activity, both mental and physical, can become a NIGHTMARE in the hands of uneducated, ill prepared novice pet owners whose lifestyle simply does not match the needs of the dogs.
This is where we see the “I don’t have enough time for him”, “He needs more room to run and someone who’s willing to give him all the time and attention he needs” comes in. Which is basically the nicer way of saying “Hey..I have this dog who is no longer a cute fuzz ball…I didn’t think anything through before bringing him home. I assumed he’d raise and train himself and that knowing how to sit and give paw was enough in the way of “training”. I thought walking them once or twice a month for a half hour while I’m being drug down the road behind a dog who has no manners whatsoever, because of course we thought he’d learn those on his own too…was enough excercise. I was wrong. Now I need you, I need ANYBODY to come take responsibility for this dog so I don’t have to do what I should have been doing from day one. Thank you.”
Although each dog is at its core, and individual…it cannot be denied that indeed the breed DOES matter in the grand scheme of things. There are some breeds that are simply not suitable for a certain type of home. A BC should never be with an elderly, disabled couple who cannot walk much or leave their retirement home. A Great Dane is not for someone who wants to run marathons and climb mountains everyday, someone who wants to be out in extreme weather or someone who requires a dog with a ton of endurance. There are general breed characteristics for a reason. So that each and every person can decide whether this is the kind of dog that will fit into their lifestyle smoothly and happily. Beware those who claim a lifestyle they do not yet have. It is very easy for someone to say “I’m going to change my life to start doing this, to accommodate my new dog”, but it’s very rare that the person will actually do it, and stick with it. Thus another dog being either trapped in a home that doesn’t suit, or re-homed. Every person MUST be 100% honest with themselves. ARE you truly an active person? Are you SURE that for the ENTIRE LIFE of the dog, you are going to be willing and/or able to get up and take your dog out for walks, runs, training sessions, etc? What other options do you have set in place should there come a time when you are ill, or can’t do these things for a while. It’s easy to say “Oh I can get my neighbor or my sister to come over and let the puppy/dog out, etc.” REALLY? Are you SURE? In the end we all should know who we are as people and what we want in our lives. If we’re lazy couch potatoes and aren’t absolutely sure we can give a high energy breed 100% of us, then we have no business getting that dog. If we’re a super high energy marathon runner who wants to go go go all the time or someone who travels constantly, then we do not need a Great Dane or other moderate/low energy breed that NEEDS to be with their owners, not left alone or dumped in kennels every week while their people travel the world. So again, before ever bringing that puppy home…BE HONEST about who you are as a person, and what you are TRULY capable of giving, LONG TERM, to a dog. Any dog.
Simple Questions to ask one’s self before bringing home a new pup/dog:
-Do I have the time to train, socialize, walk, and otherwise spend quality time with a dog? Is fluffy going to spend more of her time in a crate alone, than being among family and her owners? Is she going to get enough excercise not just for this week, or the next few months, but long-term?
-Do I understand both the positives and negative aspects of this breed/ or mix of breeds? IE:Health issues, specific nutritional needs, training requirements (you may have chosen a stubborn, harder to work with dog, rather than a super easy,brilliant and eager to please pooch) Can I handle things like possible dog aggression if I pick a breed that may be more prone to it? Do I understand that not all dogs learn at the same pace, that mine may be faster or slower than other and that it might be up to three years before I have a reliably trained dog in my home? Can I cope with that?
-Am I financially capable of caring for, feeding, vetting, this dog?
-What am I actually looking for from this dog? What am I expecting it to be like, act like, live like? Are my expectations realistic? Am I willing to put the time and effort, perhaps even money if I require a professional trainer, into making those expectations come to fruition?
-Does my entire household/family agree with getting this dog? Is everyone going to be involved in raising and the upkeep of the dog? Not just during the cute phase but for the entire life of the dog? Who will be the main caregiver? What will I do if I have to do it alone?
-If renting, am I absolutely positive that I’m allowed to have a pet, including a dog? Is there size or breed restrictions where I am living currently? What will I do in the event that I am forced to move for some reason. Do I realize how incredibly difficult it can be to find an apartment or condo that allows pets, let alone dogs?
-Do I have enough on my plate already with children in the home? Am I truly willing to supervise the children and the dog AT ALL TIMES…NO QUESTIONS ASKED? For the safety of both dog and child? Am I prepared to teach my children the proper way to interact with a dog and make sure that this dog is not going to be used as a jungle gym, tail and ears as tug of war toys?
-Do I already have pets in the home? Is one more going to upset the balance and cause issues? What will I do if they don’t get along? Am I willing to keep separate any animals and do a “Crate and rotate” type deal, if indeed they do not get along? Can I handle that stress and worry every single day for at least ten years?
These are just a few questions a person should ask themselves before bringing home a dog. The question should never be..what can a dog offer me. It should always be..what can I offer this dog. Only then, and only when all questions are answered truthfully and coincide with the dog you are getting, can you ensure a life long happy home with your new friend.
What a great post. You know, I was actually one of those people….I grew up mostly with GSD’s and my husband grew up with a Shep Mix, a Rottie mix, a Dobe, and a black and tan – who knows what. Then, together, we had a Dobe, and when he passed, we adopted Leah – an Akita/Shep/Dobe mix. All was well, until I decided Leah needed a friend. I went out just looking for a friendly male dog – and adopted a Lab. Figured, everyone has one, they’re smart and don’t need a lot of training – right? LOL! Boy was I in for a shock….sporting dogs are NOTHING like the working breeds I was accustomed too, dogs who would stop on a dime for you. My Lab might stop if there’s food on that dime, then he’d eat the dime too, and keep on going….
Well, it turns out I love him – and I’d get another in a heartbeat if I had the room….But at first, I thought I was going to KILL him, and I needed to COMPLETELY change my lifestyle to accomodate his extensive exercise and training needs, and even dietary needs because of allergies, which are also common in the breed.
Most Labs aren’t so lucky….Just look up Labs 4 rescue. It’s heartbreaking.
The breed research is so important. Even adult dogs can be adorable, but it does not mean they will be the right dog for your situation. The financial commitment is another issue that people need to consider. It is not one people like to discuss, but it is important to realize dogs cost money for basic care, feeding, and housing. It is a life time commitment and not one everyone can afford.