Pet Tips

Getting a dog from a shelter – Pet tip 131

When most people think about getting a dog, they are looking forward to choosing a squirming little puppy from a litter of Labradors (or Poodles, etc) that are tumbling and playing beside their watchful mother. Many people buy their dogs from breeders. Getting a dog at an animal shelter is generally not someone’s first choice, but maybe it should be. Shelter dogs can be just as rewarding as purebred puppies. They can be just as crazy, just as amusing, and just as loyal. Although there are some issues to take into consideration before taking home a shelter dog, these concerns should simply make you more informed about your decision. There is no good reason not to get a dog from an animal shelter!

One of the most rewarding feelings is supplying a loving companion with the home that it deserves. Many of the dogs at animals shelters are not there for any negative reason. They are usually loving and well-behaved. Perhaps their last owner moved or didn’t want the dog anymore, or the dog just got too big. Although when you adopt a dog it should be for life, unfortunately for the dog, this often is not the case. By adopting a shelter dog, you have the chance to make a huge difference in a dog’s life.

There are some misconceptions about shelter dogs that we must disprove. The first is that you would end up with an old dog that has health problems. This is not true! There are many bounding, healthy young dogs and puppies waiting for homes. In fact, the most common age for dogs to end up at the animal shelter is between one and two years old. The vast majority of these dogs have absolutely nothing wrong with them except for an owner who no longer wants them.

Another fear of potential dog owners is that their new shelter dog will come with some incorrigible behavioural problem. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to take your time when choosing a dog. Ask the shelter staff questions about the disposition of your future dog. Find out why the dog was surrendered to the shelter and if it has been unsuccessfully adopted out previously. Spend time with the dog, walking outside and playing; this way you will get to know your future dog outside of its cage. Many dogs act differently when confined in a cage. Realize that the majority of shelter dogs are the most loving and loyal companions that you can find. But also recognize that behavioural problems are a valid concern. Some of these dogs do come from abusive or neglectful backgrounds and it could take a while to retrain it and gain its trust. Not all shelter dogs need this kind of work, but the more challenging dogs are just as rewarding as the rest.

No one can deny the beauty of an Afghan hound, the strength of a Rhodesian Ridgeback, or the pure joy of a Labrador Retriever. There are years of careful breeding put into the purebred dogs raised by responsible breeders. This gives you peace of mind that you have a good idea about what your puppy will look and act like when it grows up. It is very important that you choose a dog with a temperament that suits you and your lifestyle, in order for both of you to live happy lives together. On this note, the majority of the dogs at your local animal shelter are mixed-breed. These dogs have less predictable barking habits, energy levels, and dispositions. If you want the security of a purebred dog, you can still get one from a shelter! Even the most obscure breeds have rescue foundations that are easily reached on the Internet.

There are other reasons to choose a shelter dog. These include the fact that they are relatively inexpensive compared to purebred puppies. Often, shelter dogs are already vaccinated and spayed/neutered. Also, if you choose to get a mixed-breed dog, they often have fewer health problems than purebreds. Unlike Labradors, they are not at higher risk for hip dysplasia. Unlike Golden Retrievers, they do not have more instances of cancer. A mixed-breed dog can often live a longer life with fewer medical complications.

Once you sit down and think about it, there are very few reasons to buy a dog from a breeder. Shelter dogs are just as loyal and loving as any other dog, and giving them the homes they deserve is incredibly rewarding. If you would really like to have a purebred dog, there are many rescue foundations that can help you adopt a particular breed of dog. Make a difference in a dog’s life; visit your shelter or go online to a rescue foundation!

By Ashley O’Driscoll – writer

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