Archive for the ‘Dog Adoption’ Category

Let’s get a dog!

January 18, 2013

I’m on Facebook and (since they are a favorite breed) I belong to several German Shepherd communities. One or two of the groups are always posting questions from members. I’ve noticed several commonalities: 1) MANY questions are about young dogs; 2)  MANY questions are about behaviors or caring for the breed.

As I’ve watched over the past few weeks, it would seem to me that very few people have a clue about what they’ve brought home. I’ll bet some people know about the gas mileage on their car than they do about what behaviors they might expect from a given breed.

As a dog obedience trainer, my phone never rings with someone calling me to tell me their dog is well-behaved, etc. My phone rings when dog behavior gets bad enough, that pain level high enough that people finally realize they need help with their dog’s behavior. Sometimes it’s funny…

“I have a Terrier that likes to dig….”

“My Border Collie chases the kids in the yard and tries to keep them in a group…”

“When my Beagle starts sniffing, he won’t listen…”

and so on.

REALLY!?

You have a Terrier that digs? A Collie that herds? A Beagle that locks out while scenting? I think some people would be shocked that their Retriever likes to fetch. So, first an apology for the sarcasm in this post, but please, please, please, take some…

Time for research…

If you are on Facebook, or other forum/social media site, join some general dog communities, but especially, join communities that about the breed(s) you are considering. Yes, every dog will have an individual personality; my current German Shepherd (GSD), Axle will chase a stick as long as your arm holds out. The one before (Lexi) couldn’t be bothered. But, overall, you’ll learn a lot about certain health challenges of certain breeds, how they need to be cared for, how you need to groom the dog, and if their are benefits to a give breed (low/no shedding; low maintenance; Hypo-allergenic/etc).

You may also learn that having a Golden or a Weimaraner are not good apartment dogs, or why if you live in the country, leaving a Lhasa Apso outside may give some hawk digestive ideas that wouldn’t be an issue with a  Newfoundland or Burmese Mountain Dog.

Axle Playing at Moms Upsidedown

Axle being a puppy!

When you realize your busy schedule is going to be interrupted by a dog that WANTS to work and be exercised every day (My GSD harasses me at my computer around 9am every morning until we go play fetch for even just 15 minutes. He HAS to burn off that energy, trust me!!) and you live in a 1BR apartment in mid-town Manhattan, you may want to reconsider your choices.

Why are they surprised?

“Oh, I’ve just ALWAYS wanted a _____(fill in blank)_____” Great, but now 6 months later you realize that, yes Virginia, your English Bulldog DOES have more energy than the local power grid and you are considering the dog pound.

Do a basic internet search on the breed. Look up Dogs 101 to see if they did a feature on the breed you have interest in. That show is a wonderful resource. Ask someone that owns that breed. Do you know a local veterinarian? Ask your friends for a referral. Call the vet and ask. You may not be able to talk to the vet, but the staff works with various breeds all the time and may help guide you. Look for local clubs/groups that support that breed and ask LOTs of questions! Pet stores have dedicated books and magazines about breeds too. Amazon may help there too.

There really should be few surprises when you bring a dog home. However, so far, this has been mostly about “pure breeds”. In past posts you’ll see I’ve said that when you adopt from a pound or rescue it can take weeks to know the true personality of your pooch. When I rescued Axle in Oct of 2012, I really feel it took me 6 weeks or more to help get him to my “normal”… that is, not dealing with remnants of being a stray or the pound experience.

Add in the variables of a mixed-breed and you do have more challenges. Best to you and your efforts to save lives by adopting!

Grant

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Dear Santa, I want a PUPPY for Christmas!!

December 10, 2012

Are you adopting a puppy/dog (kitten/cat?) for Christmas?

Well it’s that time of year again. Our wonderful holiday season is in full swing. And Santa is getting requests from great kids everywhere for a puppy for Christmas. So here’s my thoughts from years of training and observation…

Party time!

I believe the biggest argument against bringing a new pet into the house is the amount of energy during the holidays. So let’s look at that first. We basically have three scenarios: 1) Tiny puppy, right now with his litter-mates and mom. 2) Dog at the pound. 3) Dog with a rescue group/in a foster home/etc.

In my mind, #3 is the most likely built for success. The dog is already in a home/loving situation and used to the hustle and bustle/energy of a home.

#2: Any dog that is in a pound of any kind is under stress- period. It is NOT a loving, stress-free environment. I know shelter workers don’t work there to get rich and have a great heart for pets in general and they do the best they can with limited budgets. But if you’ve ever been to the best pound/shelter, the stress of 36 dogs barking is NOT a loving environment.

And we don’t know where that dog was last week. Running in a field or allotment, hungry? Where the neighbors throwing stuff at the dog, yelling at it to go away? Then they’re taken to a pound with a concrete (cold) floor and walls… you get the picture. STRESS.

I always remind people that the dog they see at the pound is NOT the dog they’ll have in three weeks when the dog is more comfortable in their home- Could be better, could be worse. What is the dog’s medical condition? Were they EVER an inside dog and you want to make it one?

So, look carefully at the situation. Will bringing that dog into your house on Christmas morning be a recipe for success? I think not.

#1: A puppy bought from a breeder. So we go take the 8 week(?) old puppy from it’s warm, comfortable place by his mommy and bring him into your home on Christmas with shreeking children, loud video games and 1000 things that wold scare the fur off a well-adjusted dog. Again, not a good situation.

Serious Questions:

WHY are you getting a dog? Will your kids play with the new “toy (dog)” for 20 minutes until they open the X-Box /Wii/game console with the newest game and forget the dog? (Billy for the 10th time, take the dog out!! But mom, I’m almost at the next level!!) Have you had a dog before? Do you REALLY understand what you’re getting into? With the puppy, remember you’re also taking on potty-training (going into winter), chewing on most anything and more. Have you considered the extended costs of pet ownership? Kennel for in the home/toys/food/flea-tic meds/vet visits/bowls/etc. Have you considered shedding and the type of dog best for your family?

No perfect answer:

Please consider waiting until the blast of energy from the holidays is over. THEN bring your new pooch home. Contact a trainer like Perfectly Pawsible Dog Obedience to help that transition and know what to do. Perform research. Take your kids to a home where theirs games and dogs. What DO the pay attention to.

Best advise I can give you is to be conscious about what you’re doing! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Grant Holmes, Master Trainer (Like us @FaceBook/PerfectlyPawsible)