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Dogs From Animal Shelters

by David the Dogman

Often I am asked "Is it better to have a pedigree puppy or get one from the local animal shelter "? I always recommend that one should try to adopt a rescue dog from an animal shelter. These dogs have so much love and companionship and are so easy to train.

Before taking a dog from an animal rescue shelter, it is wise to visit with the whole family and no decisions should take place on the first visit. On the second visit after family discussion and of course making certain that you will not fall foul of any agreements you have with a rented property. Also if you live on a community then it is best to check with the President if dogs are permitted.

To avoid future heartbreak and heavy veterinary bills do insist that a medical certificate is given with your new pet and that your new pet is neutered. If this is not available at the time of collection do not take the pet and return when the medical certificate is ready. Unfortunately many dogs have an assortment of viruses, distemper and Parvo entering the shelter, and local shelters do not always apply quarantine rules before rehoming dogs and cats. This is in the interest of your family and any other pets you may have in the home.

I recommend that as soon as the dog arrives at his new home it is taken out of the car on a leash and walked quietly around the outside area, allowing plenty of time to absorb all the new sights, sounds and smells. A drink of water should be offered as soon as possible..

Introductions to all members of the household should be done whilst still outside in a gentle manner and the dog made to sit before being patted, it is best to start basic obedience immediately. If you have an existing pet it is better to introduce them away from the home, maybe up the road.

Dogs will no doubt want to urinate fairly early in the proceedings. If it performs in an acceptable area then praise is essential. Unfortunately a dog which has been kept in a shelter even for a few days will have learned to relieve itself on a hard floor, so he may well need some housetraining.

The dog should be allowed to inspect the whole house ( still on his leash) and prevented from doing anything undesirable. Lingering slightly in the dogs proposed sleeping area where his basket should have been placed and offering a small food reward is useful.

Possibly the most difficult message to convey to a new owner of a rescue dog is that entering a new environment is stressful and as far as is practicable the dog should be allowed to have time to adjust, but also ensuring that "House Rules" are established and enforced early. If a dog is not going to be allowed to jump on chairs or be allowed in the bedrooms then it should not be allowed from the start.

In my experience providing a regular routine from day one is probably the best way to settle a dog into a new home. Regular walk times, regular meal times, regular fun times with the family, regular settling down.

It takes about 12 weeks for a dog to completely settle into his new home. I always recommend that rescue dogs should be taken to your own vet immediately for worming even though you have a health certificate, and ask your vet for preventative treatment for heart worm and fleas.

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