Top Five (Avoidable) Reasons for Dogs in Shelters

Shelter Dog1.  The Mismatch: Without proper research, families or individuals often choose breeds or mixes that are not a good fit for their lifestyle. When the resulting problems begin to show themselves, owners are often left surprised and overwhelmed by the dog’s (natural) behavior.

Prevention Tip: Do your homework. It is critical that owners understand breed characteristics prior to getting a puppy or dog.  For example, getting a pure bred working dog from a breeder who is breeding for performance is not the most prudent choice for a family with kids and working parents. Typically, these dogs have a very high exercise and stimulation threshold requiring hours of activity per day. And this is usually more than a busy family can commit to.

2. The Fine Print: Many insurance companies require liability insurance for dogs. Many companies also have a black list for certain breeds. Getting a dog before being clear about the stipulations of insurance companies, landlords or municipalities can lead to an unforeseen relinquishment.

Prevention:  If you are considering owning a dog, please be sure to ask all involved parties for permission. Also be sure to understand the laws of your town. Some cities / towns have breed bans in place. Here are a few things to do before getting a dog:

1)  Be honest with your landlord.  Get permission (in writing) prior to getting the dog.

2)  Have the finances to get extra insurance or pay additional rental fee if necessary.

3)  If you need to move, and the new location will prevent you from keeping your dog, do not wait until the last minute to make arrangements. There are many breed specific rescues that can help if given enough time act.

4)  Make arrangements for training!  Make your dog an ambassador of its breed.

3. Troubling Teens: The most difficult dogs to own are adolescent (6-18months old). Many dog owners are ill prepared for the challenges of adolescence. This is especially true for owners who start off with sweet little roly-poly puppies that seem to change right before their eyes. For some this proves to be too much and surrendering the dogs appears to be their best option. It is also true for the owners who think their puppies do not need any training or socialization because they appear to be “so good.” This leads to dogs who are ill prepared to deal with the world and no foundation behaviors for the owners to use when they need them.

Prevention: Be aware and prepared about the develop stages of dogs. If this is a stage you would like skip altogether, consider adopting a dog over the age of 2 who has been there and done that. Finding a dog that is in early adulthood will eliminate some of the extra work. Please note, that adopting a dog of any age will require a transition period.

1)  Training. Start training classes or private in home training with a positive professional as soon as possible. Puppies can start basic socialization and training classes as soon as they have their first round of vaccinations. There are also classes for adolescent and adult dogs that focus on basic commands and good manners.

2)  Exercise, exercise and more exercise.  This requirement will not last forever, but it is critical in managing your dog’s teenager-like behavior. It will also impact the effectiveness of the training. Dogs that under stimulated physically have much more difficulty focusing.

3)  Spay or neuter!

4)  Patience and a sense of humor.  This too shall pass.

4. Financial Hardship: Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and some financial distresses are unavoidable. There does, however, tend to be an underestimation of resources needed to own a dog. On the average, it costs $1200 per dog per year for their care. This included food, vet care, preventives for fleas, ticks and heartworms and other necessities. Shelters are bursting at the seams with dogs in need of medical attention that their owners cannot afford.

Prevention: Set up a budget. Takes a look at costs for quality food, wellness visits, bedding and other items you would like to provide for your pet. It is in important to make a list of things you will need and how much it will be. There are things you can save money on. Often you can find like-new items like leashes and collars at thrift stores or yard sales. There are things that you cannot get on sale. If veterinary care and a healthy diet is more than your budget can withstand, this simply may not be the right time to own a dog.

5. Overpopulation: Careless breeding and unspayed/neutered animals all contribute to the pet population. There simply are not enough homes for these dogs. 56% of dogs in shelters across the United States are euthanized.

Prevention: Spay and neuter animals at 6 months of age. This will benefit the health of your dog by lowering risks of certain types of cancers. It will also help to mitigate certain unwanted behaviors that seem to become more pronounced in unaltered adult animals. The most common offender in dog bite cases is an adult unneutered male dog. Millions of dogs are euthanized every year. Preventing uncontrolled breeding will reduce that number.

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