Are You Ready To Adopt A Rescue Dog?
(Dog photographed above is Iris from Apasa)
Its very easy to decide you want a dog in your life, and for the shelters its great because it means a dog gets a home, freeing space for another dog in need. But with so many dogs being returned to the shelters not long after being adopted, you have to ask, were the adopters ready to adopt a rescue dog?
According to a recent study, the top most common reasons for dogs to be returned to the shelter shortly after being adopted are:
- Unexpected costs
- Destructive behaviours (for example, soiling in the house, chewing furniture)
- Over-excitability (hyper activity)
However, 96% of dogs returned to the shelter had not been given any training by the owners.
There are a LOT of things to take into consideration before you take on the responsibility of the life of another animal.
Do I have enough time to look after a dog?
This isn’t just the time that it takes to take the dog for a walk or put food in his bowl, make sure he has water. This dog will need dedicated training sessions and time spent socialising with humans and other dogs. It means making sure the dog is getting enough stimulation of all 5 senses each day, including mental stimulation. I have personally seen so many cases where the dog has been neglected and gets returned back to the kennels because he was acting up (whether he snapped at someone, tore up a cushion or went to the toilet indoors for some examples). Its very easy to simply blame the dog in this scenario, but if you are neglecting your dog, he will show unwanted behaviours.
This comes down to your work schedule too. It is great if you work from home and can be with your dog throughout the day, but you still need to ensure that you are giving your dog enough quality time.
Do I have enough money to look after a dog?
Aside from the obvious costs of looking after a dog (food, bed, bowls, lead, collar, name tag, etc), there are many overlooked costs that people don’t often consider. You have to take into account the cost of vet bills as the may need a check up every so often, vaccinations, medication or surgeries. If you are someone who goes away a lot, whether on holiday or for business, then you have to calculate the cost of arranging care for your dog while you are away.
Is my current living situation stable?
If you are renting a property, you may need to confirm with your landlord that you are able to have a pet in your home, for example. The most specific but still very common scenario is that a couple decide to adopt a dog together, and when the couple break up, the dog is taken back to the shelter for one reason or another. This could be that they were sharing a home and the dog now has no where to go, or that neither parties want to keep the dog because they can’t look after the dog. A dog (especially a puppy) is almost like a child, as you have the responsibility to care for and nurture another being now besides yourself.
If I relocate, am I willing to take my dog with me?
Probably one of the biggest reasons for a dog being returned to the shelter here in Spain is that the owners are moving country and can’t or won’t take their dog with them. If the answer to this question is ‘no’, then you seriously need to ask yourself if you are the right person to own a dog. When you adopt a dog, you become that dog’s family, and he should become yours. It is very distressing for a dog to be abandoned this way by their owners, and in some cases it can take a long time for the dog to recover from the trauma. Consider all eventualities and really contemplate if you would be willing to pay for the dog to go with you if your circumstances were to change.
Do I have unrealistically high expectations?
You may want to skip this question thinking that it in no way applies to you, but you will be surprised to know what I mean by ‘high expectations’. If you are imagining that you will bring the dog home and it will be plain sailing, you are wrong and you are exhibiting unrealistically high expectations that can be very damaging for the dog. Prepare for your dog to have had no previous training, and in turn no understanding of basic cues. If you expect that your new rescue dog will enter your home and immediately relax into the new bed you bought him, you have high expectations. Its imperative not to expect anything from your new rescue, and allow the dog room to grow into a domesticated companion over time.
All too often a dog is returned to the shelter shortly after being adopted because of this point alone. ‘The dog ripped up our furniture and wouldn’t stop barking’, ‘he dug up a our plants and wouldn’t come in the house’ or ‘its been 2 weeks and he still cries at night and he always goes through the rubbish, so we can’t have him anymore’. If you are not willing to endure the bad days, think twice about adopting.
To round up this post, please consider all of these things and more before you adopt a dog. The dog will depend on you for everything and its easy to get swept up by their cuteness and forget that they are living creatures that need patience, time, love and care. Consider your reasons for wanting to adopt a dog and be sure that you can provide adequate care for him/her. Bringing a rescue dog home is a wonderful experience that will change your life, but you must have commitment to your new dog, and in return you will have a loyal companion who will love you to the end of his days.