When adopting a rescue dog, it is important to know all the facts. Most people are aware of all the ‘pros’ of adoption. But do people really look into and inform themselves of the ‘cons’? This post will outline the things that some people don’t necessarily think about. And hopefully help someone make an informed decision of whether this is the right one for you, your current lifestyle, and the dog itself.
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It comes in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, it is one of the most common behavioural problems in a dog coming out of a rescue centre. One type of anxiety that people are likely to be most familiar with in dogs is separation anxiety. There are many different reasons a dog may have developed some form of anxiety. But it usually stems from the basis of one of these three things; lack of comfort, lack of structure, and lack of stability; whether this is something that has been developed within a previous home, or the rescue shelter itself. Advice in dealing with this is usually recommended coming from a reputable and qualified dog behaviourist. Your local vets can usually point you in the right direction.
This presents itself as a blanket term and is usually one of the least wanted traits when it comes to picking any pet. There are many, many different types of aggression; from fear aggression to territorial aggression, and even social aggression. It’s imperative that if you are taking on a pet with any kind of known aggression, that the type of aggression being presented by the dog is explored and identified. This is to ensure that the correct behavioural plan can be used to treat and manage. It is especially important that your current or proposed lifestyle is something that fits with this and the dog’s needs. For example, if a dog is known to have shown aggression in the past, it is never usually recommended that they be put into a household with a young family.
Sadly, often seen as a ‘usual dog behaviour’, scolding is commonly practised to prevent or stop this behaviour. Sadly, the known practise to scold is very outdated and can actually be harmful to your pet’s mental wellbeing. As well as being counterproductive in solving the behavioural issue. This is because destructive behaviour is usually due to a bigger and more sensitive issue such as; anxiety, stress, frustration, lack of mental stimulation, or exercise. With this in mind, it is very common amongst dogs that have been in previous unsuitable homes, as well as rescue centres. It is important to be aware of this issue. And be aware of how to deal with it, or at least where to go to find the correct advice; this would usually again be a qualified dog behaviourist.
Poor social skills
This is another common trait or behavioural problem amongst rescue dogs. This is usually because the dog does not know what to do, or how to act when interacting with other dogs. A combination of limited exposure and a lack of positive social experiences can be a factor as to why this behaviour has developed. Unfortunately, a common way to deal with this as an owner is to then avoid the situation; due to fear or embarrassment. This creates a negative mindset for the dog that it is a situation to avoid. As well as increasing the limited exposure and lack of positive interactions element which contributed or created the problem in the first place. This is why it is so important that the potential next owner is clued up on the best way of managing these situations, as and when they present themselves.
Existing health problems
These can also be an important factor to consider when adopting a pet. Whilst some health problems are impossible to know about until certain points in their lives (or until the problem rears its head!); there are some things that can be done in order to prepare the best you can.
Look into insurance for your pet. It is important to note that most insurance companies will not cover for existing health problems, however, it is always worth having for any other problems that may crop up! If you’d prefer to not choose insurance you will need to make sure that you have access to a significant amount of funds in the event that this is needed. Unfortunately, limited funds is quite often the very reason they are in a rescue centre in the first place. Consider the age of pet you’re looking to get. A pet over the age of eight is more likely to have an existing health problem or develop one; although this isn’t always the case. In addition, it is wise to research the breed for any potentially predisposed conditions. And ultimately speak with the rescue centre to obtain any previous history that may be available.
Whilst the above are problems that by all means can be treated and managed, it is crucial to be aware of the full extent of the dog’s behaviour. As well as your own capacity and capabilities to be able to aid the dog in terms of their progression. A good rescue centre will do their best to make you aware of the dog’s known behaviours or health condition. And advise where possible the best type of home that they would deem most suitable.
Overall, it is the pet owner’s responsibility to ensure that they are able to make an informed decision on whether a dog is best suited to their lifestyle. Other ways you can prepare are: researching the breed, i.e. looking into common behavioural traits and predisposed conditions; research what lifestyle best suits that dog to enable to give it the optimal environment to thrive; and ensuring that if you are taking the pet on as a family, that everyone is on the same page in terms how you choose to look after the dog.
If you are thinking of getting a rescue dog, or already have a rescue dog that you would like advice on, we would recommend you to contact your local vets or a good dog behaviourist.