It is always stressful bringing in a new addition to the family, whether it be a two or four legged addition. Many are now looking to rescue organizations to get their new addition from. Here are just a few pointers to help that new addition be a good fit for the family.
Before you go, determine what you want and do not want. If you want a friendly dog without a lot of challenges with training or if you are up to a challenge with a lot of issues to train out. Also determine if children or another pets will be a factor.
First of all, if the animal seems aloof and stand-offish there might be some behavioral problems that will need to be addressed. You want a dog to be curious about you and eager to be with you. Unfortunately love and a good home does not deal with behavioral issues. So, you do want to try to pick an animal that has been socialized. A social dog with want to be with people. Dogs that are not social will rather interact with their environment.
If you have children, make multiple visits. Most good rescues have no problem with multiple visits and should not be pressuring you into taking an animal. First visit, go without the children. Next visit either take your children if they are well behaved or watch the dog in a situation where children are present. If they shy away from children, you probably will not want that dog with a house full of kids around.
If you all ready have a dog in the house, you should make sure they get along as well. Bring both dogs to neutral territory to meet. Most people can see when two dogs hit it off and want to play or interact. If there is growling, a lot of dominate posturing, that dog most likely will not be a good fit for your home. Also, if you have a cat, make sure it is not aggressive towards cats. You can bring your cat in a carrier to observe what the dog will do. The dog should be curious but not aggressive towards the cat. Remember, the dog or cat you currently have was there first.
Resource guarding is natural for dogs, but not acceptable in human social structure. If possible, watch the dog eat and then try to approach. If the dog stiffens up or growls you most likely will have to deal with some resource guarding. One should also try to test this with toys and treats as well, seeing if you can take a toy or treat away from the dog. If the dog does resource guard, being in a home with children would not be a good fit.
See if you can look at the dog's teeth and open its mouth. You will have to be giving heart-worm pills and most likely, at some point in time, medication. You want to be able to get into the dog's mouth to give pills or to clean their teeth. This is also necessary if they have something they are not suppose to have, too.
Many breed specific rescues will work to match the person with the dog, as do many all-breed rescues. Just like everything else in life, not all are good and some are looking to place without concern for the dog or people. I have personally worked with someone who had never had a dog before that had placed with them an aggressive dog, and another who ended up with a dog that obviously did not like children.
Especially from a rescue, you want to be their forever home and not have to give them back. These are just a few tips to help you be that forever home for that special rescue.
Susan Jenkins owns Papp's Dog Services in Akron, Ohio
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