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What to Expect When Adopting a Dog From a Shelter

When adopting a dog from an animal shelter, the best statement that addresses the experience is from the movie, Forest Gump.“It’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”

dog and child playing
By being patient, understanding, and committed, you can provide a loving and caring forever home for a dog from a shelter.

Adopting a dog from a shelter can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. However, it can also be a nightmare. It’s important to be prepared for the process and understand what to expect. I have always suggested to people who are considering adopting or purchasing a dog to make a list. The list consists of 10 things they would expect from a dog and 10 things that the dog would expect from its new owner. This is a great exercise in using rational thinking as opposed to walking into an animal shelter and allowing their emotions to make their decisions. All too often, people allow their emotions to overrule their rational thinking. This often results in unfairness to themselves and the animals. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the sob stories that people’s adopted dogs come with that are designed to appeal to people’s emotional sympathies. Although there are credible, legitimate rescue organizations out there, most of the time it is all a line of lies to entice what in reality comes to a sale varying from $250.00 to as much as $900.00 a dog. There are people who have created a business for themselves of going to kill shelters and collecting dogs with vans and trucks and selling them to unwitting buyers. It is usually the small rescue organizations, some of which operate as non-profits so they do not have to pay taxes. These sob stories encompass many of the dogs coming from the South: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and other states. Each dog comes with a unique tale such as being found tied to a telephone pole, found wandering the streets, saved from a dog fighting ring, or taken from an abusive or neglectful home... Whatever appeals to the prospective buyer’s emotions. In most cases, you end up taking home a dog that does have a history of problems. It is my firm belief that responsible pet ownership is best exhibited by purchasing a genetically sound, purebred dog, from a responsible breeder which entails doing a lot of research. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Varied Backgrounds: Dogs in shelters come from diverse backgrounds. Some may have been strays, which makes them survivors who relied upon their instinctual drives to survive the elements of their environment. Many of these dogs come with a sorrowful story that is contrived to appeal to the emotions of the prospective adopter while others were surrendered by their previous owners. Each dog has its own unique history and temperament. The temperament is comprised of (8) eight instinctual drives. What differentiates each dog is the levels of these instinctual drives. Dogs do not have personalities. Only persons have personalities. Dogs are animals first, and then they possibly can become man's best friend. A true dog trainer knows what the eight instinctual drives are, how to assess the levels of those drives, and how to make a harmonious balance of these drives. That is the true art of dog training!

  • Health Check: Shelters usually conduct a basic health check and provide necessary vaccinations and treatments before adoption. However, it's important to schedule a vet visit soon after adoption for a thorough health checkup.

  • Adjustment Period: Your new dog will need time to adjust to its new home. Be patient and give them space to settle in. Some dogs might be nervous or anxious at first, so it's essential to provide a calm and secure environment.

  • Behavioral Issues: Many shelter dogs may have behavioral issues due to past experiences. These issues could include fear, aggression, or separation anxiety. Many behavioral problems can be resolved with patience, training, and consistency. Give priority to finding a real professional dog trainer with 20 or more years of experience to help both you and your new dog learn essential skills. Adopting or purchasing a dog is a large financial obligation!

  • Training and Socialization: Basic training and socialization are crucial for any dog, especially one that has been in a shelter. Positive reinforcement training methods work well for most dogs and can help build a strong bond between you and your pet. There are all too many people out there who call themselves dog trainers who don’t have a clue about the instinctual drives of animals and are waiting to take your money. It is a shark tank when it comes to dog trainers. Many are frauds, thieves, and amateurs. The majority use electric collars and prong collars. Compulsion and pain! That is an immediate indicator of a lack of experience.

  • Time and Commitment: Dogs, especially those from shelters, require time, attention, and love. Be prepared to invest time in activities like walks, playtime, and grooming. Regular exercise is essential for their physical and mental well-being.

  • Unconditional Love: Despite any challenges, adopted dogs often show immense gratitude and loyalty to their new families. The bond you build with your adopted dog can be incredibly strong and fulfilling. The best way to build that bond is with raw hotdogs, (food drive), and toys, (play drive). And a sweet tone of voice with praise.

  • Legal and Ethical Responsibilities: Ensure you complete all necessary paperwork and legal procedures for adoption. Additionally, follow local laws and regulations related to dog ownership, such as licensing and leash laws.

  • Financial Considerations: Owning a dog involves financial responsibilities, including food, toys, grooming supplies, vaccinations, and unexpected medical costs. Do not forget professional dog training! Be prepared for these expenses.

  • Lifelong Commitment: Remember that adopting a dog is a long-term commitment. Dogs can live for many years, and you should be prepared for the responsibilities that come with caring for a pet throughout its life.

By being patient, understanding, and committed, you can provide a loving and caring forever home for a dog from a shelter. Your efforts can make a significant positive impact on the life of a homeless animal.

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