Written by Christine Durrant, Professional Dog Trainer and Pet Care Consultant
There are millions of reasons to adopt a dog! I am a strong believer in pet adoption but have several friends that have purchased puppies so I am learning how to understand and accept that not everyone will adopt. But, if I can help persuade someone on the subject I will!
Many times, people choose to purchase a puppy because they don’t want to end up with a “damaged dog”. Adopting a dog does not mean you will have to rehabilitate a dog. Many adoptable dogs are already trained which is a BONUS. Not to mention, training your newly adopted dog is great way to build your bond.
As a dog trainer, I can say that the training calls I receive are equal for adopted vs. purchased dogs so you are NOT guaranteed a dog without issues either way. With that being said, I would say please consider adopting a shelter pet!
All unwanted dog behaviors can be changed with proper dog training so this is not a good reason to discount adopting. Raising a puppy can be exhausting, and frustrating and with a shelter dog, if you choose, you can skip that all together (by selecting a dog older than 2 years). Plus, if you are inexperienced when raising your puppy, you can actually create bad habits that will in turn create bad dog behaviors.
Nowadays, dogs in shelters go through extensive temperament testing and, better yet, a dog that is living with a foster is well known and you can be assured they get along with other dogs, cats and even children before adopting them.
Whether you choose to purchase or adopt a puppy, it’s vital that you begin dog training ASAP - starting with basic manners. It's also important to keep them well socialized with other animals and friendly around humans. The moment you notice a problem such as dog or human reactivity, food guarding, or any other unwanted dog behavior, contact a positive reinforcement-based trainer to learn how to nip it in the bud (no pun intended).
Alternatively, if you choose to adopt a dog (YAY!), give them 2 weeks before doing any real training as it takes time for them to settle into their new environment. Once they are comfortable, positive reinforcement training is a wonderful way to bond with your new dog plus teach them to be the dog you want and deserve. As a bonus, you will also feel good about saving a life and I promise you there are some incredible pets at the shelter and local rescue agencies.
There are many reasons why dogs end up in shelters. Many of the reasons have nothing to do with dog behavior problems.
Looking for a certain breed? Simply Google that breed followed by the word "rescue" and you are sure to find something. Need help? Let me know!