Is Adopting a Dog the Right Decision for You?
Adopting a dog?
It sounds like a good idea, right? But are you ready for the 100% full-time commitment it takes to have a dog? For example, a dog needs to be fed every day. If you’re a super busy person, you may forget to feed the dog.
What about taking the dog for a walk? If you have an early or late meeting, you may not be able to walk Max or Bella.
Take it from us at the Parma Animal Shelter, adopting a dog shouldn’t be something that’s done on a whim. You want to take time and think about “why” you want to adopt a dog.
Read on to discover the nine Ps of adopting a dog, which can help you decide if adopting a dog is the best decision for you.
The Nine Pillars of Adopting a Dog
Plan — Answer these quick questions to make sure that you have a well-thought out plan before adopting your dog: Are you allowed to have a dog where you live? Do you have a reasonable amount of room for your dog? Do you have enough time (and money) to include a regular routine of feeding, exercising, playing, vet care, bathing/grooming, training AND LOVE?
According to a Humane Society article, some of the top ten reasons dogs are turned into shelters like PAS, or returned, include Moving, Landlord not allowing pet, inadequate facilities, pet illness, not having enough time for the pet, cost, too many animals in the household, and owner having personal problems. The last reason on the list was biting.
Promise — Dogs are dependent on us to provide for their care and well being. They are willing to make this pact with you. Remember, you also need to be willing and able to meet that pact too with your promise to them for about 10-15 years. Adopting a dog is something you want to be 100 percent sure about.
Profile — Take out a pen and paper and write down the qualities, characteristics, and temperament you want in your adopted dog. This will ensure that you and your dog will be well matched versus choosing the dog because “she’s so cute” or “she seemed to pick me.” Be as logical, honest, and realistic as you can: what dog will best fit into your life? Do you want a high-energy pup to go hiking in the woods with you or a lap dog that watches TV reruns with you (and is happy about it)? Dogs are very adaptable, but give both of you (and your family) the best chance at happiness with your specific Pet Profile. Finally, be flexible with your list. There is no perfect dog (even though my dachshund would take issue)! Focus on the qualities most important to you and your family.
Pick out Your Dog — Bring your Profile and your family and come visit us at PAS. Talk to the volunteers that spend time with the dogs. Plan to spend time talking to our Dog Adoption Counselor. She is in charge of Adoptions and will provide you with as much information as possible about each dog that you are interested in. She will also ask you a bunch of questions (See Plan). We are not trying to be nosy; again, we want these dogs to be placed in permanent happy homes! In fact, prior to the adoption being approved, we ask that you bring all of your family members and other family dogs to meet your prospective adoptee. We ask you to walk the dog and fill out our application. Remember, this is a Promise and both you and the PAS take the responsibility seriously.
Prepare — Once your adoption has been approved fr adopting a dog, prepare your home and family for your new dogs arrival. Get everyone to agree to the same rules, rewards, and correction program for your new dog. He or she’s will go through enough adjustments. Don’t send mix signals. (See Persistence and Practice, Practice, Practice). Keep in mind that your new dog has been kenneled and/or on the streets, even for a short period of time. So give everyone a chance to get started off on the right paw by putting away your fine china, having a clean crate ready as her den, and a planned area for her to first hang out in during her period of adjustment. PLAN for such an adjustment period (See Persistence) Also schedule a vet appointment, preferably when you pick her up from the Parma Animal Shelter. We do provide a Vet Certification when you pick her up. However, this is a good time to get her acquainted with her regular vet and to ensure that nothing is developing prior to her homecoming debut.
Permanence — Dogs are not disposable. They’ll need to bond with a human as part of their need for socialization. They’ll aim to please so even if they are not doing as you want, assume that they are not understanding you. So, you need to go into adopting a dog planning to make a permanent home for this trusting, loving dog. He or she has likely been through some trauma and recent confusion about the order of things. Dogs need a “pack family” with a leader that instills a sense of security through consistent fairness, clarity and routine. Your newly adopted dog may go through an adjustment period ranging from a few weeks up to 6 months. Be patient and persistent. If you don’t give up, your dog won’t give up on you!
Practice — Ninety six percent of dogs turned into shelters, or returned to shelters, have not been given obedience training. And effective obedience training is different then the rolled up newspaper swatted on her nose; rubbing her nose in her house soiling; or yelling with the attempt at a power play. Again, dogs are pack animals that respect and aim to please the “Alpha” dog. In the natural order of things, and if you want to be “Alpha” dog to her (pack leader) take an obedience class. Oh, and take her with you! The class will teach you how to be firm, fair and how to make you and your dog’s life FUN. Paws down, the best prevention and treatment for behavior problems is Obedience Training. Learn then: practice, practice, practice.
Protection — Dogs need food, fresh water, training and play, socialization with the pack family, and vet care. These things will give them a sense of security and give you a wonderful companion. In our time, dogs cannot provide these things for themselves. You are promising to provide and protect her for her lifetime.
Payback — Unconditional love. A look of total thrill when you walk in the door. An unfailing and unquestioning companion for life. There is a story often told about someone walking along a beach, picking up a starfish and throwing it back into the sea. A companion walking with her asked, What does it matter throwing one back into the sea? There are so many! The volunteer rescuer bent over, gently picked up another starfish, throwing it back to its home in the sea, replying, ” It matters to this one. ” 8-12 million dogs and cats enter shelters in our country every year. Make a difference to one — adopt a Shelter dog!
How to Know if You’re Ready to Adopt a Dog
Review the about Nine Pillars of Adopting a Dog to see if you’re ready for one. If you find that you don’t have the time or funds necessary to care for a dog, it may not be the best decision. However, you can always spend time with dogs by volunteering with an animal shelter, like the Parma Animal Shelter. Shelters, especially those that are run by volunteers, always need help. You could walk dogs, feed and socialize with them. Perhaps later down the road, you’ll adopt a shelter dog!
Over to you. What made you think about adopting a dog? Share in the comments.