The Ultimate Guide to Successful Rescue Dog Adoption
During the pandemic, the demand for dogs has exploded. Crazy prices have been demanded – and paid – for puppies, and thousands of households have added home barking to working from home.
But now the lockdown is – hopefully – over, and the UK is gradually returning to work, with many overwhelmed owners admitting defeat and simply ditching their pandemic puppies.
Because while Britain is supposed to be a nation of dog lovers – as evidenced by the national obsession with recent scenes of animal rescuer Pen Farthing bringing 150 cats and dogs out of Kabul – it’s also true that ‘As life changes again, not all homeowners can cope. This is especially the case when it comes to saving animals, which can have serious difficulty adapting.
The Cheltenham Animal Shelter recently saw a dramatic increase in the number of rescue animals, with dogs 60% more than pre-pandemic levels. More than 19% are less than two years old – pandemic purchases that are now downgraded to save mutts.
According to the Scottish SPCA, calls about unwanted animals have more than doubled in the past year. It is therefore essential that anyone wishing to relocate a rescue dog does meticulous research.
“A lot of people who took dogs during the pandemic have no experience,” says Carolyn Menteith, training and behavior advisor for Agria Pet Insurance. “We have over 210 dog breeds in the UK and each was originally developed to do a certain job,” she continues. “His race informs behavior, but people don’t always take it into account. “
And if you fall in love with a dog, without fully understanding its needs, says Menteith, it can be a disaster. A young leaping lurcher will be much less happy in a small garden than an aging burrow. “Don’t ask yourself, ‘Do I want this dog?’ but ‘Would this dog want me?’ ”
Taking charge of a rescue isn’t a simple matter of offering love to a grateful pooch. It changes everything. “Each day will be devoted to walks, pee breaks, food, grooming, training,” explains Menteith. “A dog is a joy but it’s hard work – they don’t have an ‘off’ switch.”
If you are determined to give a rescue dog a happy life, remember that at first your welcoming home is just another confusing place full of strangers.
“A lot of homeowners make the mistake of expecting too much too soon,” says Menteith. “The dog must have the space to explore without any pressure. It can take up to six months for a rescue dog to feel at home.
If there are children around, it’s natural for them to want to smother the newcomer with affection, but that can overwhelm a nervous animal.
“Dogs have only limited means of reacting if they are really scared – and that can involve their teeth! Menteith said. “Let the dog lead all interactions until he feels more confident.”
And while a puppy will learn as they grow older, the challenge with some rescue dogs may be that they have already developed certain behaviors in response to stressful situations.
“We welcome a lot of dogs that haven’t received the right level of training or socialization,” says Linda Cantle of Wood Green, The Animals Charity. “This often results in nervous dogs who can bark incessantly, cannot bear to be left alone or do not know how to act appropriately,” she explains. “There is also no rule – some dogs can be very mistreated but still trust people, while some can have a good life but be difficult to deal with.”
When you start training your rescue, “use positive, reward-based methods involving food and toys to build confidence and fun,” Cantle advises. “Never use punishment or let dogs cry alone, as this will damage the relationship.”
With any dog, owners shouldn’t assume that they’ll fit right into their lives – so it’s very important to think ahead before committing, says the dog trainer and behaviorist. Chantal Karyta.
“Do you want children in the near future?” If you’re in an apartment with an energetic dog, he’ll need a lot of walking – do you have access to parks nearby? She also points out that dogs that were bred to hunt may find it difficult to live with another animal, such as a cat.
The other thing that’s important to consider is the cost – and it’s not just about the food. “You’ll need pet insurance, dog walkers when you get back to work, vocational training, grooming, and dog boarding if you go on vacation,” says -she. “Then there are the beds, collars, leashes, chews, toys, vet bills…” As any dog owner will tell you, it all adds up.
The main requirement, however, is time. “Dogs need companionship and they love being with humans. If you are at work 12 hours a day after the lockdown, that will be unfortunate. “
But if you’re sure the basics are in place, the key to a happy transition is “slow and steady.” Have a quiet place – a crate or a bed – where they can hide and don’t let children follow them around. “Don’t overwhelm your dog by inviting all of your friends and family to meet him,” Karyta says. “First make sure he’s comfortable with your home.”
If he is scared, she adds, “Give him positive associations with everything – hand feed him ‘high value’ foods like chicken so he learns to feel safe and confident with you. , and don’t try to teach him too much too soon. . “
Above all, learn to speak a dog. “Dogs communicate through body language,” she says. “A dog may refuse to eat if he is stressed or may choose to hide. They can refuse to go out and use the toilet indoors.
Under extreme stress, she adds, “the ears may be flat on the head with the tail tucked below, and they will move cautiously and slowly. The dog can also vocalize if he is not happy.
Homeowners don’t always notice the smallest signs of stress, but “they could be anything, like turning away, licking their lips, yawning, or showing the whites of their eyes,” says Karyta. “These can degenerate into grunts, tearing each other apart. All of this can portend a bite – and if you’re unable to train your rescue out of fear of an assault, experts agree it’s essential to bring in the pros.
A canine behaviorist can objectively assess such issues and work on a personalized training and support program for you and your dog. And when it starts to work, says Sarah Calcutt, experienced rescue owner, Partners in Produce (pip.business), it’s magic.
“I have had several rescue dogs and although there were some rough times I never gave up – although I once approached when I realized I didn’t have a pair left. whole shoes, ”she laughs.
“Odie, a Labrador, was our toughest dog,” she adds. “We are its third owners. He’s hyper vigilant and hyper active – when he arrived he couldn’t look at anyone; it took him three months to approach me.
Sadly, Odie’s past abuse means he may never fully relax. “It took a lot of careful training. But the day he chose to come and sit next to me and let me touch him, it was worth it, ”she says. “It was a really brave thing for him to do.”