Adopting dogs is the best way to save their lives and giving them a second chance, but it also involves a number of expenses, liabilities, commitments, education, care, time and rules. Knowing all these factors will help you analyze your future commitments and taking a decision that fits your personality and lifestyle.
For a family with no experience, adopting a healthy dog its the ideal thing to do: a docile breed without behavior problems. Adoption centers are committed to provide all information regarding the characteristics of the dog breed, their tastes, problems, habits and fears. The more information the potential adopter has on the psychological characteristics of the animal, the more likely it is that the relationship becomes a success.
Questions to ask yourself before adopting
1. Why do you want to adopt a dog?
To fill an emptiness? Because your kids asked you? You want to teach your children the sense of responsibility? Do you feel compassion for the suffering of stray animals? If you do not have a clear answer, it would be wise to rethink the decision of adopting a dog. Animal shelters are full of dogs that have been abandoned by people who once bought on impulse or whim.
2. Do you have money to bear the expenses of your new pet?
You need quality food and depending on the size of the dog, the amount of food expenses varies. Vet visits and vaccines are required for his health, as well as hairdressing services (especially for dogs with long coats).
3. Do you have adequate space?
Your new pet will need to identify the places where he can sleep, eat and walk by. The small and medium breeds can adapt to small apartments but large breeds like the mastiff dog, German Bulldog, or San Bernardo should be adopted by persons living in large spaces, and if possible with gardens and patio.
4. Do you have time to go for walks and physical activity?
Dogs need to play and go for walks daily to release energy, as well as being excellent for his health. Character and mascot race is a factor to consider: some breeds need more exercise than others, as well as having more dominant and stronger personalities. The persons responsible for managing adoption centers know the psychological characteristics of the dogs under their charge and can help you choose the one that best suits your circumstances and lifestyle.
5. You want to adopt puppies or adult dogs?
If you decide to adopt an adult dog you must remember that they are animals that have been neglected and even abused. This situation will require your patience and care to help him learn to trust people again.
One advantage of adopting adult dogs is they´re animals that have overcome childhood diseases, formed their character, been toilet-trained and their level of activity is lower than that of the pups.
Deciding to adopt a sick or disabled dog will require a lot of patience, generosity and time for treatment. However, the gratification of giving another chance to a dog that doesn´t have it easy could be the most valuable reward of your life.
When I´ve visited some animal protection societies, I observed that elderly and disabled dogs were the ones with the least chances of getting adopted. I remember a dog that was 8 years old and had black and white fur; I asked the person who took care of the dogs how much he had been in the shelter and to my surprise he responded that he had been there for 5 years. As it was not a very graceful or attractive dog and was already old, nobody wanted to adopt him.
For me this is a mistake. Thinking that beautiful and pedigree dogs are “better” than other ones is not correct. Truth is, both need love and protection. Real love for animals means liking them as they are, regardless of their beauty or race. When you know their history of neglect, this awakens in you a great tenderness and desire to give them all the best, and we do so from the bottom of our heart and sincere love. For me, this is true love for animals.
Home, sweet home
Before arriving home is important to plan all the details to make it comfortable for both you and your new pet.
What would be a good plan?
Ideally, pick him on the weekend so you have time to spend with him.
Once out of the car, taking a walk is important so that the dog knows the area, neighborhood, smells and sounds.
- Once he got familiar with the area, teach him your new home walking inside the house, allowing him to sniff and explore.
Bringing an object from the shelter with a familiar smell will help him feel safe in the first night and subsequent days.
Keep the first days the same food he received at the shelter and then gradually introduce the food you’ve chosen for him. This is to introduce the new changes in his life in a gradual way.
Mistakes you should avoid
Feeling sorry and too forgiving
When you adopt a dog you´re aware of the difficulties he has gone through, hence you generously want to compensate and fill him with affection. However, you must educate him with discipline and rules; for example, not allowing him getting up to the sofa and beds will help you not getting tired of your dog by his excessive pranks.
Your pet is in a new situation, hence he may feel timid and unstable in the beginning, hindering the process of adaptation. Nevertheless, with patience and persistence the dog will overcome his insecurities. So don´t feel frustrated.
Dropping your guard
After time your canine may seem adjusted and happy, but you must be careful not to drop him on rides and parks because he can run off and get lost. It’s better to let several months pass in order to be sure the adaptation process is completed. Remember, dogs that have been abandoned could be nervous and fearful, especially if they have suffered physical abuse; therefore, they are more prone to run away in situations where they get scared.