By Jackie Kellum
They’re cute, loving, and greet you when you walk through the door. Dogs may even help reduce your blood pressure, improve your mood and provide a few laughs every now and then. If you are ready to invest some time, patience, and love, the ‘rewards’ they provide await you. This is especially true of adopting a shelter dog. They know and appreciate you have chosen them and are giving them the opportunity for a new and better life than they have experienced before.
Here are a few helpful tips to consider before adopting any dog.
First you must be ready to make a life’s commitment to this new pet. This is not an action to be made on a whim, or lack of planning. You need to consider your life style and daily routine. Be honest about your physical abilities, your willingness or not to take the dog on walks, your ability to lift this dog into a car if needed, how much of your day involves home away time activities, the size of your home’s outside space, your patience in puppy training, available time and money needed for grooming, etc..
If you enjoy walks, an active dog may be a better option. People who are inactive or pretty much couch potatoes, should select a pooch that is calm, and wants to be a ‘lap dog’. Some dogs require a lot of grooming. Consider the amount of upkeep you are prepared to provide yourself or pay a professional.
Learn as much as possible about the dog’s previous life’s experiences. Some rescued shelter dogs arrived with little known information, while some arrive with previous abusive / neglectful behavior from humans. This may help explain why some dogs are more shy or frightened than others. Much like dealing with a shy person, you approach and interact with these dogs in a slower calm manner. Fortunately, most dogs are forgiving of human negative behaviors.
Do not place unrealistic expectation on the new family pet. It may take a little time and understanding for the dog to know where and when you want him to go to the bathroom. If the dog has spent any time on the street or was in an abusive situation, extra time is needed for him to learn the social manners a dog must have. These areas might include, learning how to eat commercial ‘croquette’ dog food versus food scraps, there is no need to ‘protect’ his food, sharing toys, playing with others, and being inside a house now versus living totally outdoors on the street. Be patient; give your dog time to get used to his new home, allowing his personality to come forward and for you to know him better. During your search you are looking for the best ‘match’ that will merge easily with your daily life and his future housemates.
When you get your new family pet, like your other pets, they should each wear a collar and ID tag at all times. Dogs get out, they get lost. Make it easier to have them get back to you safely and quickly. A reminder, be a responsible pet parent, make plans for your pet in the event you can no longer care for them, before it happens. Anita’s “Pet Godparents” New information on Anita’s website: “Should I rescue that Street Dog?” “Foster Care Vs. Rescue care – the difference” , “What to do if your dog gets LOST,”, and “What to do if you FIND a dog.” www.anitasanimals.com