This month we are featuring an article from local trainer, Indi Edelburg.
Adopting a Shelter Dog- How to Find Your New Best Friend
By Indi Edelburg, Certified Dog Trainer; owner of Dog Training by Indi
When it comes to adding a new furry member to the family, more people than ever are looking at shelters and rescues. Approximately 1.6 million dogs are adopted every year in the US!
But it can be difficult to really get to know a dog’s personality when they’re in a shelter environment. Shelters can be stressful places to be when you’re a confused dog. Imagine being abandoned by your family, dropped off in the middle of a strange place, and put next to a neighbor that barks your ear off all night. No wonder some dogs tend to cower in the back of the kennel or jump up and down like a maniac to get your attention! By taking the time to really get to know a dog, asking the right questions, and evaluating if your lifestyle would match their personality, you’ll be much more likely to make the right decision when it comes time to find your new best friend. It will mean an easier transition and, in the long run, a happier life for everyone!
How you meet a shelter dog is an important part of assessing their personality. Many dogs take a while to warm up (or sometimes calm down!) when meeting new people. Don’t write a dog off because he didn’t immediately jump onto your lap when he saw you. The room you meet the dog in is likely full of smells of other people and dogs, which can be very distracting! Allow the dog to get comfortable in the area first before trying to make physical contact. Don’t reach over the dog’s head or hug it around the neck, this can be intimidating even for the most well-adjusted pet! Sometimes it’s better to meet outside where a dog feels less confined.
The more information you can learn about your new friend the better. Ask for the results of their temperament test and what staff has learned about their personality. Volunteers are also more than happy to share what they know about their furry friends!
Meet and Greets
The Humane Society of Marathon County is one of many shelters that require any dogs in the household to come do a meet and greet with the dog you want to adopt. This is very helpful in determining if everyone in the household will be safe in a home together. Even if the shelter you are adopting from does not require it, ask to bring your dog(s) in for a meet and greet so you can get an idea of how they will get along.
Make sure to visit with a dog you are interested in multiple times, and at different times of day. Even in a shelter dogs usually have a loose schedule of when they get potty breaks, exercise, down time, etc. If the dog has an accident in the room when you visited, it might have been right before potty time. Did he seem extra hyper when you met for the first time? Try visiting again at a different time of day. The more time you spend together the better you’ll get to know his or her personality!
Not sure how to assess a dog’s temperament? Consider using Dog Training by Indi to help you determine which shelter dog would be a perfect match for your family and lifestyle!
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