Myths About Shelter Dogs - A MUST READ

Myths About Shelter Dogs

Bravo Dog Training © 2009
Mary Majchrowski

Many people who are looking to add a dog to the family sadly don’t consider a pet from an animal shelter or rescue group. Often mislead by what they have heard or how they were raised, the following are some common myths and truths about shelter dogs.

Myth # 1: Shelter dogs are somehow broken or have something wrong with them.

Truth: The reasons people surrender dogs to animal shelters nearly always have more to do with the people than the dog. Owners give their dogs up because of divorces, job transfers, allergies, health problems, financial difficulties, or other personal issues. Sometimes the dog’s owner has died, or an owner was neglectful or abusive and the animal was removed by authorities. In other cases the owner was simply oblivious to the responsibility and care a dog requires and purchased the dog on a whim without thought to the long terminterest of the dog. No matter what the reason, none of these problems are the dog’s. So prove it to the dog – prove it to the world. You can be and will be a better owner.

Myth # 2: If you want a purebred dog you need to buy one from a breeder or a pet store.

Truth: An average of 25% of dogs in animal shelters are purebred. If the breed you are looking for isn’t currently waiting for you at your local shelter you can often put your name on a wait list. There are also breed rescue groups devoted specifically to saving dogs of their chosen breed. Try looking at and selecting the breed you are looking for along with the area you live in. You will probably be surprised at the results.

Myth # 3: A shelter dog will have bad manners.

Truth: Any dog you get will need some training, and shelter dogs are no different. They don’t necessarily need any more or any less training than any other dog. Many shelter dogs even come to you already housebroken and knowing basic obedience skills.

Myth # 4: “I can’t go in there because I’ll need to take them all home!”

Truth: Time to suck it up and get strong. Shelter dogs can only find homes if people like you take the plunge and go take a peek. And don’t worry, they won’t let you take them all home! If you are still overwhelmed at the thought of seeing all those homeless dogs, try checking out your local shelter’s website. In this age of technology most shelters post photos of dogs available for adoption. Looking at the pictures can be a good starting point.

Myth # 5: “I don’t know anything about this dog – it could be vicious.”

Truth: Animal shelters are doing a great job at making sure that every dog available for adoption is a good family pet. There is now a relatively standardized temperament test that is done with every dog. The dog must pass a series of assessments including how they react to loud noises, grooming, being restrained, having their food bowl handled while they are eating, interacting with another dog and many more. This ensures that every dog put up for adoption is well behaved. Some shelters even do basic obedience training with their available dogs, or offer a free course with the adoption package.

Myth # 6: Dogs from abusive homes will always be “damaged goods.”

Truth: With some good training and lots of love most dogs can become completely normal, happy pets, no matter how badly they were treated in their previous home. The good news is that dogs live in the moment. In the same

way that dogs can’t worry about the future, they also can’t dwell on the past (those lovely emotions are reserved for humans only). Dogs live in the moment, so if the behaviors can be overcome, and the owner can let go of the dog’s past, many abused dogs can become ideal family pets.

Myth # 7: Animals from shelters are sick or unhealthy.

Truth: Dogs from animal shelters may have come in sick or injured, but before they are placed up for adoption the dogs will be treated for any illness or have any injury repaired. Many animal shelters have veterinarians on staff, so every possible issue is addressed right away, on the premises. That’s a lot more than can be said for a backyard breeder or pet store – their dogs are quite often sick, suffering from genetic troubles or have injuries.

Myth # 8: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Truth: Nonsense! Older dogs are just as trainable as younger ones. While a senior dog may not have the sponge mind of a puppy, they do have a longer attention span, and have lost the urge to break off of a training session to go chew up a shoe or pee in the corner of the living room. An older dog spares you the process of housebreaking and teething. And there is something incredibly special about giving a comfortable retirement home to an older dog. Some of these dogs have been in one home for their entire life and may have had an owner pass away. Their lives have been turned upside down. A senior dog will generally be very grateful to have a new home, and for those owners that work a lot or don’t have the time or commitment to giving a dog a lot of exercise this can be a perfect match.

So, Do the right thing and adopt your dog from an animal shelter. You may be the difference between life and death for a dog. What bigger kind of a hero could you be?

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