Since 2011, we have trained hundreds of dogs and all of them came from shelters. Every service
dog we’ve successfully trained and placed was once a misunderstood shelter resident that someone gave up on. Rescuing is only half the battle. The other half is training.
When you’re ready for a dog, do an objective self-assessment before you hit the shelter. There’s no better friend or companion than a dog, but owning one is a huge commitment. Don’t become “that guy” who stops by “just to look around” only to be seduced by the most irresistibly fluffy pup ever to charm her way into the wrong home.
Before you can blink, little 9-pound Fluffy is on her way to your house to live happily ever after. But a few months later, we get that inevitable distress call that 60-pound Fluffy just pulled someone down the street face-first.
Or one of these scenarios:
Fluffy yanked your wife down the stairs and broke her collarbone.
Fluffy barks ferociously and attacks the door when anyone knocks.
Fluffy attacked the neighbor’s dog.
Fluffy traumatized your grandchild.
Fluffy was named in a lawsuit.
There’s no happy ending when you pick the wrong dog for your home, physical ability and lifestyle. Even when you do find the perfect dog, it won’t behave without proper and consistent training. They aren’t robots.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before starting your search:
What will I be doing 10 years from now?
Would I rather give up a kidney than raise a toddler again?
Am I a marathon runner?
Does my sofa have permanent impressions of my bottom?
Am I home enough so my pup won’t be stuck in a crate all day?
Am I prepared to invest $2,000 a year supporting my dog? (That’s if nothing goes wrong.)
The bigger and younger the dog, the more exercise and supervision she will need. Dogs that are tall enough to reach your counters and shelves inevitably have access to more temptation
Before you get a puppy, remind yourself that they need constant vigilance. They eat computer cords and expensive shoes. They have accidents while potty training. And you’re making a commitment that might last 15 years.
Middle-aged dogs, which are frequently passed by in shelters, have gotten through all their puppy destructiveness, may already be housebroken, and usually need less exercise. If you prefer Law & Order reruns to mountaineering, an older dog may be a great match for you.
The dog you choose should match your family’s lifestyle, so do your research. A toy poodle doesn’t need a fenced yard as much as a Labrador retriever. Chihuahuas won’t make great running partners. Border collies aren’t ideal condo residents. You get the picture.
So be smart and do your homework. If you’ve got a bad back, you don’t want a dog that will eventually weigh 98 pounds. They’re too strong for fragile people and can easily hurt someone unintentionally.
When you do chose a dog, start socializing her right away. Teach her how to behave and make sure she knows who is the boss.
If you need help training, call us.
PHOTO: Fresh out of back surgery, Elaine inherited JT, a 100-pound family member that was out of control. She called CASD and we helped her train him to behave and respect her. Now, JT is not only a wonderful, safe companion, he’s also a therapy dog.