The decision to get a dog is an extremely big decision and commitment. Seriously, I cannot overstate that. Along with your normal obligations, owning a dog means you are completely responsible for the well-being of another life.
There are basically two avenues for getting a dog. You can purchase a puppy from a breeder, store, or another individual and then there is adoption.
Adopting a dog is a great decision because there are a lot of unwanted dogs sitting in shelters just looking for a home. Adoption is also appealing because it is much cheaper than buying a dog from a breeder or store. However, it does not come without its downfalls.
Why Adopting a Dog Can be Difficult
The first dog I ever owned was a little Rat Terrier that we got as a puppy. From the first day he came home he was a bundle of energy.
The puppy period was difficult, as it usually is because we had to get through nights of him barking and whining, potty training, chewing on items, and getting him comfortable with our routine. But he learned quickly and soon adapted to life in his home.
This is usually how it goes with puppies because you are imprinting on them for the first time, and they learn how to act from you.
This is typically a different experience than that of an adopted dog. Puppies can find their way into animal shelters, but it is not common, and they usually do not stay there for very long.
Most dogs available for adoption are older dogs. I do not necessarily mean senior dogs but dogs that are past the cute puppy stage.
This means that the dog will most likely come with “baggage,” either emotional or physical and they have probably been passed from one home to the next. And this does not include the time they have spent in shelters.
An adoption dog may have experienced the following:
- Physical or verbal abuse
- Being shuffled from home to home
- Leaving a long-standing home because the owner is no longer capable of caring for the dog
All of this results in a dog that can be nervous, anxious, scared, or mean.
Before You Adopt
Before adopting a dog and taking it home, there are several things you can do to make the transition better for both of you.
Research the Breed
Often, people go to a shelter and pick out a dog based on appearance or their temperament at the time, without knowing anything about the breed.
Some dogs are calm and content to lay around all day while other dogs have a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Some dogs hardly shed any fur and other dogs will cover every square inch of your home in hair.
Some dogs shy away from everything while others are fierce protectors.
By educating yourself as much as possible about the breed you are considering, you can make a more informed decision as to how they will fit into your lifestyle.
Spend Time with the Dog
Impulse purchases are often sources of regret, but it does not have to be that way with an adopted dog.
Many shelters allow you to spend time with a dog on-site before deciding to take it home. Appointments can be made to play with the dog in an enclosed area and even take them for walks.
While this is not a guarantee for how the dog will act once at your home, it will give both you and the dog a better feel for one another.
Think, Think, and Think Some More!
As mentioned above, getting a dog can an impulse decision. Additionally, people usually only think about the positives of owning a dog without thinking about the negatives. Before getting a dog, consider the following:
- Are you willing to deal with a dog that barks all the time?
- Do you have the patience to potty train it and clean up its messes in the home?
- What if the dog chews on everything?
- What if they are aggressive?
- What if they are scared of everything?
- What will you do if the dog cannot be left alone?
- Will you be able to match the dog’s energy level if they are hyperactive?
- Will you be able to provide the dog with the exercise it needs?
- Are you prepared to handle the financial burden of food, toys, shelter, training, vet bills, etc.?
- Do you have the time to devote to all the above?
Before adopting a dog, you should write out a plan, schedule, and budget for handling all of the above. Do you have your plan?
Good, now think about your decision to adopt a dog some more and make sure you are positive to commit to that plan for years.
You Brought the Dog Home but Are Now Having Second Thoughts
So, you have gone through the above steps, adopted a dog, and are now having second thoughts. What should you do?
First things first. Do not be impulsive to give the dog up at the first sign of trouble. Remember that the dog has a history, and they are now in a new environment.
It is going to take time, possibly months, for them to become comfortable in their new home. Put yourself in their place and imagine what it would be like to be moved from place to place. If you were in that position, I do not think you would instantly feel comfortable and do everything you were supposed to without issue. A dog is no different.
Lastly, make sure you have exhausted every possibility for correcting the reason you want to return the dog. This can include talking to other pet owners, your veterinarian, attending training classes, and implementing all offered solutions.
Last Piece of Advice
At the end of the day, if it is not working out then it is not working out. There is no sense in having both you and the dog be miserable for the rest of your days. In that case, it may be better and healthier for the dog if you found it a new home.
If you take the dog back to the shelter or find it another home, there is no doubt you will likely feel a little guilty about doing so. That is a natural feeling, but you can feel a little better about it as long as you did everything you could to try and make it work and delivered it to a humane shelter or found it a good home.
I have met many dogs in my life that have had a variety of issues. No dog or owner is perfect and the relationship between the two will have its up s and downs. But I have never met a dog that did not want to be loved and a part of a family. Make sure you give them that chance.
Thanks for reading.