Shelter animals are a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Shelter animals are one of the backbones of Backcountry K-9 Training, LLC. I have worked personally with shelter animals since I was 16 years old, I have met some of the most amazing dogs that inspire me still to this day. I personally adopted my Bella who is the face of Backcountry K-9 Training and is in a lot of our videos and newspaper articles. This story unlike others we write, it is much more personal due to working closely with shelter animals over the years. I wanted to take the time as a dog training and behavior professional to not only help to change people’s minds but let people know the myths around adoption from a shelter. My goal is to get more people open to adoption, if they do not adopt that is fine, as long as they thought about it as a possibility.
This is probably the number one myth I heard in my times in the animal shelter world, I also think this myth is the most harmful. It is completely untrue, the bond between adopters who get adult dogs versus puppies is the same, what it really depends on the adopters effort to bond with their new family member. This includes training, time spent with the dog and the amount of work that your going to put in by walking your dog as well. There are people who have adopted dogs as puppies or gotten purebred puppies that have non-existent relationships with their dogs. Dogs are fantastic at knowing when your genuine and care about them. Getting a puppy just to have a puppy and then not putting in the effort to raise the puppy properly is not benefitting the dog or the human. I also think adult dogs know they are being saved from the shelter and are grateful for that. I also stress that just because you think you want a puppy doesn’t mean it fits your lifestyle the best.
This is another great myth I hear, Why would I get a Shelter dog when I do not know how they were raised? People are unsure of adopting because they are unsure of the dogs past and think that they will have these horrible behavior problems and be stuck. I tell those owners that a lot of shelters do a fantastic job of evaluating their dogs to get a good read on their temperament, abilities with other dogs, training level, etc. A lot of shelters also try to get extensive knowledge of a dogs background if it is available to them by the previous owner. The point is that we know very well the kind of dog you are getting, so when a shelter recommends certain suggestions for your new house-member I think we should listen. It is also the job of finding a good trainer that can help you overcome any problems your dog may have, even if they are severe. A good dog trainer will have the ability to help you with any problem you are having with a newly adopted dog, the past is exactly what it is, the past. It is your trainers job to help bring the client and their newly adopted dog form an amazing future and build a strong bond.
This is perhaps my favorite myth. I have done many dogs adoption showings and a lot of the time when asked ” Why did you want to see this dog?” people respond that they were so calm in the kennel unlike the other dogs. When in reality the shelter worker knows that is the craziest dog they have in the kennels. Sometimes it is true that the craziest dog in their kennel also has a high-strung personality, but it is not as common as you would think. I find it is usually the inverse. The crazy dogs in the kennels are usually huge couch potatoes and the calm ones are the ones that run around your house like a maniac. Personally, my adopted dog Bella was INSANE in her kennel and from the minute she came home she was the biggest mush and couch potatoes I have ever seen. The only people who truly know what the dog is like outside the kennel is the shelter staff, use them to your advantage and ask a ton of questions. They know the dog because they care for them everyday. All I want is for people to not make assumptions about dogs based on their kennel behavior.
FALSE! This goes for all puppies, puppies are extremely young, impressionable and have yet to go through major life stages of development which can shape their temperament and behavior. This myth is especially true in multi-dog homes, people want puppies because it will be an easier transition for them and they will not have to worry as much. This is false, puppies grow up and when they hit adolescents they suddenly won’t put up with a lot of stuff you let your other dog do to them as puppies, suddenly you have conflict. The puppy is growing into their own and fighting back to the bullying. Adult dog adoptions, you can tell when you introduce dogs to one another at the shelter whether it will workout because they are both full mentally and physically mature. This myth also goes back to the belief that puppies are easier. Puppies are hard work and dedication. Brining any new dog into your home requires hard work and dedication but puppies are a whole new game. Adult Dogs can adjust very quickly to your schedule and given a month, they can fit in like they were always there. Both puppies and adult dogs require large amounts of time in order to properly adjust to a new home along with set schedules and crate training.
Picking our your newest family member begins with first going to multiple shelters and asking them about their philosophies and evaluation process. See what dogs they have in their kennels, as about their personalities and their adoption process. Decide to adopt from the shelter you connect with and feel like knows the most about their animals. If you want professional help with adopting a shelter animal we offer our Adoption Aid services to clients where we go with potential adopters to find the perfect family member for them.
I am in no way going against getting a puppy whether it be from a shelter or purebred, raising a puppy is a lot of fun and rewarding process, I have done it many times. If getting a puppy is the right decision for you and your family then you should continue down that path. All I am asking is for people to consider adult shelter animals, or at least not believe in these myths around shelter animals. I love training both purebred and shelter dogs/puppies, every dog I meet enriches my life in someway, I always thank my clients for allowing me to even meet their dog because every dog is amazing and beautiful. Just remember: