Q: What are the most common reasons that people put dogs in care, from your experience?
There are a variety of reasons that people abandon their pet dogs into the rescue homes. Lack of experience and knowledge on how to handle and control a dog, people moving house or emigrating, change in circumstance, either being made redundant, or a new baby arriving into the family, divorce, separation or death of the owner. Unfortunately some people realise that caring for a dog is far more responsibility than they first anticipated and the novelty wears off, so they give up on the dog and dump it onto someone else.
Q: What are your feelings on taking on a rescue dog, as opposed to a dog from a breeder?
It depends entirely on the reason for wanting a dog in the first place. It is always a very good idea to have a powerful reason for wanting a dog and not just because it’s the fashion or trend or because your neighbour’s puppy looks cute. Caring for a dog comes with huge responsibility and I would suggest that if you are taking a new dog on for the first time you speak to an expert before making your choice.
There are pros and cons to getting a dog from a animal rescue shelter or taking on a pup from a breeder. Both can be very successful and both can come with problems.
Rescue dogs can come with some issues and take longer to bond with a new pack or family. Saying that however, I would always suggest that anyone looking at taking a dog on could try the local animal shelters first. Often there are pedigree dogs and puppies that have been abandoned and you will pay a lot less that what you would from a breeder. It’s always a nice feeling to know you have successfully rescued a dog from a home and given it a second chance in life.
Cross breeds generally come with stronger DNA structures and can suffer less with health problems that some pedigree breeds have. Over breeding has caused some dogs to have genetic problems from the moment they are born.
Natural Rearing is growing in popularity and more and more breeders are looking towards raising a more natural dog, by letting the mothers and the queens of the pack wean the pups without human interference. They will feed a diet of natural raw food to both mother and pups and not let the pups go from mum until its socialisation period is properly fulfilled.
Most breeders are happy to let the pups go to a new home at 8 weeks and I would say this is still too early for the pup. If you can wait until the pup is at least 12 weeks old before you separate it from its mother then the puppy will benefit from extra socialisation whilst its tiny brain is still developing. Not only that, but the pups immune system will develop stronger whilst it is still getting its nutrients from its mum.
Q: What in your opinion are the things to look out for when choosing a dog from a rescue home?
When choosing a dog of any kind, I would say the most important factor to consider before you even consider what breed you would like, is that you match the energy levels of the dog to your own. If you are of high energy then you will want a high energy dog, if you are of low energy then you will want a low energy dog. Too often I see a mismatch of energy levels between owner and dog, the owner has chosen the dog on breed rather than what will actually suit it’s life. For example an old lady should not really own a high energy Husky that needs plenty of exercise but would be more suited to a calm natured dog like a Grey Hound or Dachshund Hound. If a person owns alot of land then a more working breed such a Border Collie or Springer Spaniel or Terrier breed would suit them better.
When choosing a dog from a rescue shelter or from a breeder, take your time, visit the dog often and spend time with it as much as possible before making a decision. Get to know your potential new best friend and let him get to know you before taking him home.
I would also suggest a visit from a professional dog psychologist, when you first take the dog home to help you settle it in and understand the dog’s needs. An animal communicator will be able to help the new owners understand where the dog has come from and what its needs are from the relationship.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes new pet owners make when taking a rescue dog or new puppy home?
One of the biggest mistakes a new owner of a rescue dog can make is it shower it with love, affection and attention when it first arrives in the house. Many people think that because the dog has had a hard time before coming to them, or it’s cute and adorable they want to treat it like a baby and let it get away with everything and not give it any discipline.
A discipline routine should be put in place straight away so the dog understands what the new set rules, limitations and boundaries are. Once the new routine is firmly established then you can start to add affection when the dog behaves in the way that pleases you.
Q: What sort of problems arise when bringing a new dog into the home?
Rescue dogs can come with a host of problems and taker longer to bond with their new family, all of these problems can be resolved with the right professional help, time and patience.
If you have taken a rescue dog on and are having difficulties with settling it in and establishing your self as the dogs natural leader, then don’t take the dog back to its shelter before seeking professional help from a dog psychologist.
It might just be a few simple things that need changing that will make all the difference.
Bear in mind that when you take a dog out of the rescue shelter, it frees up kennel space for another homeless dog to stay. If you then take your dog back, the rescue shelter becomes overcrowded and their resources are over stretched which can lead to even more problems for both them and the dog.