Before you make this life changing commitment, there are some things you should consider.
- You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Many people are drawn to the roly poly puppies overlooking amazing adult dogs because they believe they need to “raise a puppy” to fully bond. After having worked with thousands of adult dogs and the people who have adopted them, I know without a doubt that some of the best matches happen with adult dogs because we know who they are. Puppies can be a grab bag of emotions and personality. According to Cary Crawford, a Wayside Waifs Adoption Counselor who adopted an adult Jack Russell, “Pickle is the most loving, well rounded, grateful dog we’ve ever adopted and he actually came from a puppy mill situation. It is as if Pickle has been with us his entire life.”
- Do your research. There are several good breed books and websites to help you make some decisions about the type of breeds that would fit in the best with your family. I recommend:
Paws to Consider- Choosing the Right Dog For You and Your Family, by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson
Mutts: America’s Dogs The Right Dog For You, by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson
- Consider your lifestyle and be realistic. If you are gone all day at work and have after work commitments, a dog would not be a good addition to your family. Dogs and puppies deserve and require time with you relaxing, exercising on leash, playing off leash in the back yard and working on basic training.
- Commit to training and training classes. You may have trained your last dog and had a successful relationship but let me suggest that that was an exception, rather that the rule. Shelters across the country are full of juvenile dogs confirming this. You and your dog will have a much better chance of success if you start with the expectation that you will absolutely go to training together- no matter the age of your new family member. Wayside Waifs also recommends choosing a trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques. Look for trainers who are accredited with a CPDT (Certificate Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers). Wayside Waifs offers these training classes on site, see our website for the available classes.
Adoption is a profound, life-long commitment to a being who relies on you completely and a little forethought can go a long way toward making this a successful union. Most shelters, including Wayside Waifs, offer services to support you and your new family member after the adoption is completed. These services include: phone access to knowledgeable shelter staff and trainers, training classes, and a web library full of helpful training tips and behavior advice. As with most relationships, we get out of them what we put in. There may be challenges to overcome but with patience, perseverance and help from the experts you will have a love that will last a lifetime.
Written by Barbara Poe
Adoptions Program Manager