Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Dog Trainer's Take on Adopting a Dog

So, you've decided to adopt a dog. There're enough dogs filling up shelters, that you just wouldn't feel right going to a breeder for your dog. Now images of you and your eternally grateful pooch running off into the sunset together are filling your head. The heart wrenching images of sad-eyed dogs you've been sent from the shelter convinces you: your future dog is waiting for you to rescue her. Fast-forward past the adopter vetting process, adoption application and fees, to you looking at the shelter parking lot in your rearview mirror, Pooch in her crate in the backseat. 

Just like people, dogs come with the proverbial baggage: the more days they've been alive, the more they accumulate. Some dogs are just happy-go-lucky, and have been lost or abandoned, while others have known various degrees of hunger, pain, isolation, loneliness and loss. While responsible shelters have qualified behaviourists on-call to evaluate newcomers, there are only so much they can foresee when a dog arrives at a shelter. Dogs that have been captured, taken off the streets or out of abusive situations, and are stressed, scared and, above all, confused. Would you be yourself in such a condition? For this reason, the dog you take home and the dog you have a couple of months down the line can seem like night and day, and not always for the better! 

Once the fog clears, your quiet, reserved dog may reveal herself to be insistent and vocal; your mellow pooch may start to show her protective nature, and since these changes don't happen overnight, you're left scratching your head the first time you're called home by your neighbour thanks to your wailing pup. 

As disheartening as this may seem, the object of this post isn't to turn you off of pet adoption. On the contrary, I highly recommend it! There are many reasons to adopt a dog, but it can potentially come with more work. 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: start good habits right from the beginning, even if your new dog isn't showing worrying behaviours. Regular exercise, play, meals and training are the best way to make sure your dog's needs are being met, and to stave off unwanted behaviours. Hiring a professional dog trainer is a great investment, especially for first-time dog owners, but not only! 

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding your dog's behaviour!

Hamilton Dog Training
762 Upper James Street Suite 162
Hamilton, ON L9C 3A2
(905) 537-2624

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