Finding the Dog of Your Dreams, part 1

Please enjoy part 1 of this 3 part article to help you find the dog of your dreams!

Finding the Dog of Your Dreams

Part One-

I recently had a client ask my opinion on her adopting a new dog. When I finished telling her an extensive list of my concerns she said I left out the plague. Her feelings were a little hurt, but I always spell it out purposely so that people can get the dogs of their dreams. I want to save some poor dog at no fault of their own, from ending up in a rescue. Re-homing a rescue dog is also very hard on the adoptive family. I don’t want anyone to suffer a broken heart. It is better to know what your needs are and adopt the dog of your dreams, whether it is from a breeder, shelter or rescue.

When you decide that the time has come to add a dog to your family, there are so many things to consider.  What are your needs? Do you live in a building that allows dogs?  Is there a breed restriction in your building, or neighborhood or state? Is there a size restriction? Some apartments and condos dictate that all dogs have to be less than thirty pounds. Some apartments say that you can only have two pets. Is it written in your lease that you can have a dog? If you get a dog can you afford it?  Will you need to pay an extra deposit for each dog?  Will it increase your rent? I have seen so many animals surrendered to rescue because of a misunderstanding between landlords and their tenants. If you are getting a dog and your landlord agrees that it is okay, you need to get this agreement written into your lease. You also need to decide if you are staying in that rental for an extended period of time. Finding another apartment that allows dogs in your price range may be tougher than you think.

There are many other important considerations when adopting a puppy or a dog. Is anyone in your family allergic to dogs? If you are in a relationship and you own a dog together, what happens to the dog if you break up? Can you afford the dog on your own? Will you be able to afford to rent an apartment that does allow dogs on your own?

Are you adopting the right dog for your family? Have you researched a breed that fits into your lifestyle? If you live in an apartment and you’re not a walker, are you willing to hire a dog walker for the sake of your dog’s happiness? All dogs need exercise and leash walking is a great way to train a new dog.

I recently worked with an older woman who adopted two min pin puppies, a female and a male. She loved the puppies but couldn’t keep up with them. Her yard was not fenced in and she was having a hard time walking. After a year she gave up the female because the two puppies were fighting. A few months later she brought the male to me because he was biting not only people that came to her door, but he was biting her as well. He had taken over the house. I gave her lots of help and he was much better, but in the end she couldn’t give him the life he needed and deserved. She had to find him a more suitable home for him. She was heartbroken. The new family was much more suited to his needs. They will be able to give him the exercise and socialization that he deserves.

If you work long hours will there be someone that can walk your dog while you’re gone?  A puppy needs to go out all the time. If they don’t get out enough they will be harder to house train. An adult shelter dog may need to be house trained all over again. If you live in the city and you adopt a dog from the country or from down south it may refuse to poop and pee in the street. I have taught many dogs how to pee on the street and a few others that had never peed in the grass.

One of the dogs, Tess, had spent the first eighteen months of her life in a crate as a breeding prospect.  The breeders decided not to breed Tess and put her up for adoption. When Marilyn brought her to me for help we went for a walk. Tess had never peed in the grass. She would hold her urine and only pee once a day until she became desperate to go.

When she was outside her sensors went into over load. She would look all over and not concentrate on all the wonderful smells. She was nervous and afraid of everything and everyone. Every time she even looked at the ground I would stop and say, “Go pee.” She would the get distracted and I would lead her to a well-marked tree and repeat, “Go pee.” while imagining her doing just that and voila she peed.

I will never forget her face the day she learned to pee in the grass. You could see the relief in her eyes. Ahhhhh!!!!  We praised her and the look on her face was one of confusion and then it shifted to pride. She had to learn to poop in the grass as well. She knew nothing of sniffing the ground like a regular dog. It took some time but Tess learned to be a regular dog with the love and help of her human mom. She learned to love people despite her rough isolated beginning. Tess went on to become a certified therapy dog at her own request. She inspired me right up until her dying day. Tess was an incredible dog that grew emotionally in ways that seemed impossible.

She came to me as one of the most fearful dogs I have ever met and with the love of her mom Marilyn, who became my student, she lived a great trusting life using CinergE, communication, Reiki, positive based training and lots of love.

If you have roommates or family members that live with you is everyone on the same page when it comes to adoption of a dog. Is this dog going to be a shared responsibility? Is everyone going to be involved in choosing the right dog? A dog needs a supportive family.

I recently worked with John who adopted a high energy shelter dog, Bill. He shared his house with a roommate that liked the dog, but played really rough with it while John was at work. When John would come home from work the dog was often so riled up that it concerned him.

One day Bill was overly excited when John came home. Bill was jumping all over him. When he reached down to push his overly excited dog off of him, Bill fell to the ground and peed himself. This was a new developing behavior. His roommate was way too rough and when the dog would get over stimulated. The roommate would harshly discipline the Bill causing him to exhibit submissive behavior.

John quickly found a new roommate. If your adoption is going to be a success everyone in the house should be on the same page when it comes to your new dog.

Can you provide the exercise it requires to have a high energy companion?  Or would a quieter breed be a better choice?  Perhaps an adult dog would be better? Do you have a fenced in yard? Do you travel a lot?  Will you have someone to care for your dog when you’re away?  Can you afford boarding your dog while you’re away?

Can you afford the veterinarian costs? Yearly exams can be quite expensive but are important for your dog’s long term health. Keeping a dog healthy can be expensive. Can you afford health insurance for your dog?

Feeding a high quality food is very important for your dog’s health. Grain free foods are much healthier for your new best friend, but they can be more expensive. Raw diets are great but require keeping the food frozen. Can you provide a good diet? I have found that dog’s that eat junk food have more behavior issues and suffer from health issues and obesity just like people.

If you have never trained a dog you may need help. Can you afford a trainer?  Dogs that are in rescues sometimes need lots of love and boundaries. It’s so sad when a client comes to me with a dog that has no manners and they are at the end of their rope and don’t have the money for a trainer. It takes a village to raise a healthy dog!

If your dog turns out to be a barker will it bother your neighbors? Sheila and her family had lost old Jake to cancer and they were ready for another dog. Lucy, a beautiful mixed breed caught their eye and it was love at first sight. Once Lucy was home the family was a bit surprised by how much work she was to train, but it didn’t matter because they loved her so much. With the help of a trainer things were getting easier, except for one thing -Lucy is a barker.

Sheila has a beautiful fenced in yard and Lucy loves it. Unfortunately she loves to run the fence line and barks at everything. Her neighbors are very upset and they have called the police. Sheila is now working with their trainer on barking. Her family is committed to helping Lucy however they can but, it has been a real journey. They love Lucy and feel she is worth every dime they have spent on her. Even though it has meant cutting back on other discretionary things, she is worth it to them.

If you’re not sure what kind of a dog you want, why not volunteer at a local shelter before making the pet plunge.  You can volunteer to walk the dogs, play with them or simply sit with them and just love them.  Spending time with shelter dogs is a win-win for both you and the dogs. The dog of your dreams may be there just waiting for you.

If you fall in love with a shelter dog keep visiting the dog and get to know her before you take her home. Ask if you can take her for walks as this will help you get to know her before the next big transition of taking her home. Bring the whole family and your other dogs to meet the dog. Know what you are committing to and don’t make an impulsive choice. There are too many lives that will be affected. If you have cats, make sure your new prospect is a cat lover. Dogs can learn to love cats, but it can take a lot of time and energy.

Adopting a dog from a rescue is a major transition for all involved and is one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have with the right dog for your family.  These dogs so deserve a happy life and can make the best family dogs. It is up to us to make the transition easier so everyone involved will be happy. So often we are so excited by the prospect of adopting a dog we may overlook some of the important details to help make the transition easier. We are filled with the thoughts of how great it’s going to be and can sometimes forget that we can run into difficulties.

If you choose to buy from a breeder you will need to research carefully. There are great breeders out there, but you will need to find the one who is honest and stands behind their dogs.  Ask your veterinarian for a referral.  If you know someone who has a breed of dog that you love and their dog is a great example of the breeding program, ask who the breeder is.

Finding a local breeder is the best choice for you and the puppy.  Shipping a puppy on a plane and picking it up at the airport is incredibly stressful for a young dog. Flying can be very stressful for people, so can you imagine what it can be like for a puppy that’s just lost his/her mother?  I have worked with many fearful dogs from great out of state breeders and the one thing they all have shared was being shipped by plane from out of state. If you choose a dog from out of state why not consider a driving vacation to pick it up? Remember that just like children, puppies get car sick and not all hotels will give you a room with a dog in tow.

I transported a pit bull rescue from Florida to New York. It was her last chance for a good life. She was sick and her time was running out. I was exhausted by 10:30 driving through at night in Georgia. I was in the middle of nowhere and I couldn’t find a hotel off the interstate that would let me sleep with my rescue.

I was so tired, but determined to get this dog to a safe haven. I finally found a trucker hotel. They let me bring in my dog, but it was scary. The safety lock on my hotel door had been ripped off, the room was dirty. I propped a chair under the door knob and slept in my clothes with the sweet pitty girl tucked into my side. The second night was no easier. I found a Best Western in a very bad neighborhood that took us in.

I never for a second questioned my choice of saving this dog. She was taken to a rescue where she was nursed back to health and adopted out to a wonderful home. She deserved a second chance.

When you buy from a local breeder you can visit the puppy while he/she is still with the mother. Ask them for personal references from other people who have purchased puppies from them. Also ask to meet the father, or other siblings from different litters. Remember like father, like son.  If you feel people are being evasive of your questions about the parents then trust your intuition and keep looking.  When you use your intuition it can save you and your family from heart break later.

In the beginning, your new family member will require lots of TLC, time, and devotion. Some dogs who have been in rescue bounce back and forth from one home to the next making the transition that much more difficult.  They may have separation anxiety. “He was so cute we didn’t think he was capable of that kind of destruction.”  It is our responsibility to make the relationship work by setting it up for success.  Can you plan a to be home for the weekend so you can be there to ease the transition and be there for your new dog? Trainers are suggesting to not take extended time off from work when you adopt a new dog. The transition is much tougher after your new buddy has had a week of your undivided attention. It is a setup for separation anxiety.

Joe the boxer mix came from Georgia to New York on a tractor trailer transport filled with thirty dogs and cats. His new guardians saw his picture online and fell in love. When they picked him up they were given no information about him. They didn’t know he had severe separation anxiety. The first time they left him, he went on a rampage and tore up their recliner and couch beyond repair. They are working hard to make it work but they are unsure they can help him. He may need more help than they can give him.

-Stay tuned for Part Two!-

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