October is “Adopt a Shelter Dog” month!
Shelter dogs make wonderful pets, family members, companions and friends. Unfortunately, there are a number of misconceptions about shelter dogs.
Let’s debunk some of these myths together and get more dogs in homes this coming month.
- There Are a Lot of Dogs That Need a Home
Nearly 7 million cats and dogs end up in shelters every year. This number is an estimate because there is no single organization that tracks shelter data but of that estimate, a little more than half are dogs. Many are adopted but about 670,000 dogs are euthanized each year.
- There Are Lots of Puppies Needing Homes
There are often puppies, many random litters, dogs giving birth to puppies in the shelter and so on. If you don’t see them, it may mean they are in foster care. Shelters have puppies and these puppies all need a family.
- History Doesn’t Mean Everything
The reasons for surrendering a dog or the situation from which the dog came may or may not be known. Ultimately, shelter staff can tell you what they have observed and learned about each dog in their care. These traits and characteristics are more important than unclear, nebulous or unknown historical information.
- Shelter Dogs Are Perfectly Trainable
Here’s something insane to think about: Most dogs nowadays are bred for their looks. If you’re looking for a smart dog or a dog that can be trained to work with you, you’ll most likely find it at your nearest shelter as much as you will at a breeder. Of course, if you’re looking for a purpose-bred dog to herd your flock of sheep, that’s another matter entirely. However, we are talking about family pet dogs here. Many people worry that they won’t be able to train a shelter dog, especially if the dog is older. The good news is that this is simply not true! Every dog, just like every human, can learn.
Bonus: You might even find yourself a dog who is already house trained.
- Your Adopted Dog Has a Unique Personality
Instead of viewing your dog as a “rescue dog” or “shelter dog,” think of him as your dog – their own unique self. Getting to know your dog’s unique personality – and honoring it – is the most important thing you can do. However, it is crucial to remember that while your dog has their own unique self.
- Sometimes It Takes Some Time for That Personality to Emerge
There’s this simplistic 3-3-3 model for adopting a dog. It goes like this: The first three days a dog comes home, you’ll likely see a lot of stress behavior because your dog has no idea what just happened. Be extra patient during this time. During the first three weeks, your new dog should feel a little settled, at least as far as knowing the routine and expectations. At this point, you’ll start to notice his true personality start to poke through. By three months, your dog should feel secure in your family and his place in it. At three months, your dog knows he’s home. Once you get to that point, that personality will start to shine.
- Shelter Dogs Are NOT:
Dirty, flea-bitten, mangy, aggressive or sick. Of course, some dogs can arrive at the shelter with some of those. However, shelter dogs as a rule, aren’t unwell, problematic dogs. It’s a common misconception that prevents a lot of people from even stepping foot inside a shelter.
- Shelter Dogs ARE:
Wonderful pups who just need a chance. Sure, some will need extra TLC in terms of medical care or training but how is that different from any of us? They all deserve love and affection as well as a chance to be part of a family.
- An Older Dog Might Just Be the Perfect Pet
Older dogs are often overlooked in the search for a puppy. These dogs have a little life under their belt. They’re never going to teethe again, are more patient and often have a deeper well of calm than any puppy is capable of. Lots of people avoid shelter dogs, assuming they’re all “too old,” but what if an older dog is the perfect dog?
- You and Your Shelter Dog Can Create a Deep, Lasting, Lifelong Bond
Your relationship with your dog can become one of the most meaningful of your life if you give your dog a chance.
What other myths about shelter dogs have you heard? Leave your thoughts in the comments.