Overpopulation in animal shelters continues to be one of the leading causes of euthanasia in homeless dogs. What many do not know is that every day responsible pet care can help reduce overcrowded shelters, and our nations skyrocketing euthanasia rates. Animal advocacy, and the potential to save the lives of dogs begins in the home.
First things first, are you prepared to have a dog?
Many dogs are relinquished at animal shelters because their owners are not prepared for the responsibility of owning a dog. Before you adopt:
1. Does your residence allow pets? Be sure to check with the owners or managers of your premises about whether pets are allowed. Ask if there are any breed or weight restrictions.
2. Adopting a 2nd dog? Make sure the new dog is the right fit for your dog, and that they get along before you adopt.
3. Is your home dog proof? Despite what the animal adoption facility knows about your new of your dog’s temperament, many dog’s personalities will have to adjust to dealing with a new environment.
4. Determine whether to restrict them from unwanted areas in your home as well as outside. For example: while indoors, consider using a baby gate. While outdoors, check for areas that your dog may have the opportunity to dig, jump, and be sure to secure those areas. Check for escape routes.
Once you adopt your dog, are you willing to provide training so that your dog has the opportunity to behave responsibly in their new home?
The #1 cause of euthanasia in dogs is behavior. Like people, dogs must learn the skills to behave appropriately. While training may require hiring a dog trainer at a cost, like your own education, it is investment in your dog’s quality of life. Training can help manage these common behavior issues:
1. Is your dog house broken? Puppies are not born with this skill and must be trained. If you adopted your dog from an animal adoption facility, chances are, they were accustomed to eliminating in their kennel. You will need to reintroduce your dog to potty training.
2. Does your dog have separation anxiety? Barking, scratching, and digging when left alone are common signs. Consider crate training your dog so they have their own safe and fun environment. With will also help with potty training. Leave white noise in the form of talk radio on when you leave your house to help occupy the silence. Most important, consider hiring a dog walker to break up the time your dog is left alone.
3. Is your dog unruly even when you are at home? Exercise is essential for dogs. Dog walking AND play time are different, and yet equally important ways to help keep your dog mentally stimulated and physically fit. Dog walking does require leash skills from your dog which is learned through instruction, practice, and consistency. Also, providing proper structure on walks is essential to giving your dog a good work out. For example, making sure your dog is at your side, and not walking ahead of you. Encouraging your dog to keep walking, rather than get distracted by marking or sniffing every few steps.
Now that your dog has adjusted to his new home, are you taking your dog to his annual vet visits?
Many dogs are relinquished at animal shelters due to their owners being unable to cover the costs of a sudden, and often serious medical diagnosis. Since most shelters have limited medical resources, unhealthy dogs are more likely to be euthanized. Consider these facts before skipping the vet:
1. Your dog’s annual veterinary exam is similar to your own annual physical exam. It is the act of taking responsibility for your own health.
2. Regular vet visits help you maintain a healthy life for your dog and may increase your dog’s lifespan.
3. Going to the vet has that same preventive measure for your pet. Annual visits help you stay on top of your dog’s health with costs that are usually manageable, while providing you with time to plan ahead should your vet discover anything new.
Adopting a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. Nevertheless, it is essential to be prepared for the responsibility of owning a dog. This includes making a commitment to your dog’s training (which is a life-long process), and maintaining their good health. Not only will this lead to a full and rich life with your four legged family member, but you will be doing your part to reduce the number of dogs in shelters, saving the lives of countless dogs.