By Karen A. Soukiasian
These are tough economic times. Many are struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately, often the first things to go are the family pets.
Today, more than ever, shelters are bursting at the seams with unwanted animals. Some are surrendered. Others are abandoned; found tied to trees in backyards, chained to picnic tables in parks, locked in foreclosed homes, dumped in dog parks or “good neighborhoods.”
Rescues and shelters are working over-time, doing their best to find loving homes for the dogs they have, knowing there are thousands more, waiting in line. They should be your first choice when looking for a new pet.
By all means, stay away from pet shops that sell puppies. The preponderance of puppies in pet shops are from poorly run, unsanitary, overcrowded, puppy mills.
There is no regard for the health and emotional well being of the animal. Their only objective in making a buck at the expense of their breeding lot! Countless puppies acquired through pet shops have a susceptibility to have serious health and behavioral issues.
When considering a new pet, visit your local shelters and rescues.
The three most common age categories of dogs in rescues and shelters, patiently and hopefully awaiting to be rescued or adopted are: puppies, young adults, and seniors.
Puppies are frequently 8 weeks to 9 months old. Nearly all are there because their parents were not responsibly cared for. They were not neutered or spayed and many are the result of careless, accidental breeding. Lots of puppies did not receive the pre-natal care they needed and may later have health issues.
Young adult dogs are in the 10-month to 24-month age group. A large number of dogs in this age category are abandoned or surrendered because of inappropriate behavior issues, lack of obedience training or life style changes of their owners.
Last but not least, are those wonderful senior dogs who are 8 years and older. Scores of senior dogs are surrendered, as their owners are too old or too ill to care for them, or they have died. Sadly, no one in the family wants them. They often make the most loyal and grateful pet!
Let’s face it; the majority of people, looking for a new dog, gravitate to puppies. They do have their pros and cons.
1. They are a clean slate…usually they are young enough to correct any inappropriate habits or behavior problems quickly.
1. Time consuming…they need constant supervision at ALL times!
2. No obedience training – short attentions spans; so they are often harder to train
3. Need house break training
4. Chewing, digging, nipping, jumping and other inappropriate behaviors
Young adult pros
1. Usually are house broken
2. Usually have some obedience training; longer attention spans as far as training, but they may have inappropriate behavior issues which have to be corrected first
3. Usually do not need constant supervision
Young adult cons
1. May not be house broken
2. May have obedience and or inappropriate behavior issues, such as jumping, biting, digging, barking, begging, unreasonable fears, and running away, to name a few.
3. May need constant supervision
Senior dog pros
1. Usually calmer
2. Usually gentler with children and older people
3. Usually more appreciative and willing to please
4. Usually have some obedience training; longer attention spans, and love to learn new things
5. Usually are house broken
6. Usually do not need constant supervision
Senior dog cons
1. May have inappropriate behaviors, such as getting on furniture, begging, or barking
2. May not be comfortable around children, if not exposed to them when younger
3. May have age related health issues
Whichever age group you settle on, is a personal decision. However, before adopting or rescuing a new dog, be sure to do your homework. Study the pros and cons of the specific breed you are interested in.
Be informed about the size, temperament, health issues, grooming needs, learning ability, compatibility with other animals and children, and longevity of that breed. Check with breed specific rescues. Doing a bit of research now, could prevent a lot of heartache for both you and your dog, should their breed not be compatible to your life style.
Be realistic to yourself and the animal. Avoid adopting around the holidays. Try to adopt when you are on vacation, or have a long weekend., so you can give the dog the time and attention they need. Allow at least 90 days to adjust to each other.
Your dog needs time to acclimate to his or her new surroundings. All too often, people do not allow enough time for the transition. Find a local trainer who applies POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT, PUNISHMENT-FREE training. Enroll in a Puppy Kindergarten, or Obedience class as soon as possible, to learn how to be an effective pack leader. Be fair, firm and consistent with the rules and expectations. Set yourself and your dog up, for a healthy, mutually rewarding relationship.
Be fair. Invest the time and energy to make it work!
Keep in mind, when deciding on your next dog… mix breeds make wonderful pets and often have fewer breed specific health issues!
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