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Rehoming dogs

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  • Rehoming dogs

    Whether you call it re-homing, re-locating, rescue or adoption, taking a dog from it’s known environment is a challenge for both man and beast. Puppies cry for days, adult dogs are confused and disoriented. If anyone has taken an adult dog from the shelter or kennel, even though they are mature, you know that the dog you picked is not the same dog 3 weeks, 3 months or a year later.

    I have nearly a manuscript on the subject from greyhound people, sled dog people and my own “blogs” of our re-homed dogs. So, that I don’t sully or bait the responses:
    What are your suggestions for living with a dog who is new to you?
    How do you manage unforeseen temperaments and needs?
    Are there products, toys, food, training techniques or methods that make certain transitions easier?
    Short of Medium like mind reading are there techniques to test the psychological state of your dog? And techniques to manage anxieties and mold behavior.
    Any other comments would be interesting.

    This subject has been an article in progress for about 3 months so if I can use your entry please let me know. The point being to give perspective owners a reference to help prevent dogs from being returned to the shelter.

  • #2
    Linda, as a breeder, it was my desire to keep a pup from each litter to observe how they developed physically and mentally. Jim was freaked out at the possibility of great numbers of dogs in the house, but it has worked out wonderfully. I started doing this just over 3 years ago and have since placed one pup at about 18 months of age and another at 13 months.
    When I placed the dogs, I tried to find like environments for the dogs. While neither went to multi dog homes, they both went to multi child homes...lots of children, lots of attention. The owners were both avid hunters. (One is a guide, so that dog gets to hunt more than when we had her.) I recommended routines, food and toys familiar to the dogs.
    I sold these dogs for their puppy price (or a little less). I figure the training I put into them was the price I paid for getting to see them develop, which in turn helps my breeding program. I wasn't actively searching for buyers for these dogs, but had people who searched me out to try to find a dog. This enabled me to be selective in a choice of homes. I am surprised at the number of calls I have gotten for already house broken dogs since these 2 dogs went to their new homes.

    Anyway, I think a successful rehoming program gathers info about the pets' past and uses that info to help find the next home. I realize in the case of shelters this is not a likely scenario.
    "It's the journey that's important, with experience and knowledge to be gained along the way, in the company of our faithful dogs and our good friends."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson


    • #3
      Time and consistency is what is needed most in training and rehabilitating dogs. As you know, during those six years when I ran the rescue program I pulled retrievers from the local shelters as well as from owner releases. I had a specific disposition test that I ran with each dog that I was considering for rescue. I did not rescue every retriever that I saw. Those that didn't pass my test were not pulled. Here's my reason. I had only so many slots at my kennel for rescue dogs. Dogs that passed my disposition test get placed into adopting homes pretty quickly. Those that are a bit more on the "border" still occupied a slot until a family finds them. So if I rescue a dog that has "issues" then that dog also fills slots. So if all my slots were filled with hard to adopt dogs then when I nice retriever comes up that needs to be rescued I wouldn't be able to because all my space was filled. So I was very picky about what I brought in. My system worked well. During the six years I was in operation I successfully placed a little over 500 retrievers into adopting homes.
      My method entailed me physically handling each dog. Sorta pushing the limits to see how each dog will react. Those that didn't like what I was doing will let you know right now. Those were typically "Type A" dogs or just plain aggressive. The timid or scared ones I can handle so I always brought them home.
      Don't get me wrong. I have rehabed some aggressives. But it takes more time and a whole different approach. Most of these have been owners bringing their dogs out for training.
      From what I have seen. Most issues in dog behavior have been a lack of socialization and obedience. Either with people or with other dogs. They just never had a proper education on how to handle different situations. Other dogs, people, children, grandma, the doorbell, the cat, the neighbors and etc.. They all bring about different reactions from a dog. Each dog will react differently and may or may not have their own seperate issues. But it is up to us to teach them how to respond correctly. Obedience is the foundation for everything.
      For me I simply made the dogs a part of the everyday going on here at my home. Pretty much a regimen of events. Exposure to other dogs, in home lifestyle and obedience. Outings to different public places.
      All lead to a well rounded dog. From there I would just find a family that matched what each dog needed. Some more active some a little less active. So I would match families with each dog. Much easier that way. I wouldn't place a hyper retrieving maniac with an elderly couple. Just as an example.
      Gotta go for now.
      Baron Rea


      • #4
        A few more words........
        The problem with adopting shelter dogs is there is no trial period. At least with rescue groups their is or at least at the time... I had one. I had a ten day trial period. I think that is plenty of time for a family to find out if the dog will work for them. I believe that should be the case with shelter dogs as well. I know that you can take the dog back, but they won't give you a refund.
        Most dogs out of the shelter are shell shocked. They kinda close themselves up and not show their true personalities. So a hyper dog may seem quiet and calm. Problems occur later after the dog makes itself at home with the new family.
        How to make the judgement. Don't window shop. Get your prospective dog out and spend time with them. Lots of time. Tell the attendant that you wish to go to the outside enclosure or to a room away from everything. Most of the shelters will have an area set up for this.
        How to read the dog. Is the dog focused on what you are doing? Does it seem attentive. Alert to your presence. Glad you are their? Or does it just meander around and avoid you. Maybe even running away from reach. Will the dog come to you on its own with a little coaxing? Willing to interact with you?
        How does the dog carry itself? Is the tail wagging? That's a happy dog. Tail between the legs is nervous. Tail pointed straight out or up but not wagging and a stiff stance are signs of a bully or stubborn personality. Could even be signs of potential aggressive tendencies.

        Now what to do once your new dog is home.
        Go slow and easy. Take them home and try to keep things low key and quiet. Let the dog settle in. My best advice would be to let the dog explore your home on its own. Don't try to force it up and down stairs in in and out of rooms. Just close off areas you don't want the dog. Let the dog come to you don't force yourself upon the dog. I know we all want to love and smooch all over the dog. But that can actually lead to an unstable reaction out of most dogs. Loving and smooching is a human behavior not a canine trait. Give them their space.
        Now adjustment times will vary depending on each dog. Try to figure out what the dog knows as far as obedience. When you first start just think that the dog knows nothing. Don't try to make a dog do something it may have never been taught to do. Like sit, or other house manners. You may have to start from scratch with some commands you wish to teach.
        Obedience classes are an excellent start. Get the dog out for jogs or other forms of exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog. Long walks and outings are a constructive way to alleviate anxiety. Doing so will form a bond with you and the new dog.
        Over time the dog will adjust to your lifestyle and routine.
        Other issues that pop up may need to be addressed by a professional. Doing so will give you a better understanding of what's going on in the dogs mind and what caused or is triggering the negative responses in your dog.
        Baron Rea


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