With millions of people around the world adopting dogs; now is a great time to start to learn important lessons before adopting a dog (or cat).
These lessons are important for to-be rescue dog parents, as not only can they make you a better dog-parent, but, also help to reduce the return to shelter percentage of rescue pets.
Some have estimated that return to shelter rates for rescue dogs and cats is as high as 20%; meaning one in five adopted pets are returned to a shelter within six months.
So, are you ready to adopt? You will soon find out after reading these five dog adoption lessons.
Lesson One: Dogs Need Love… and Time
When adopting a dog, it can be easy to fall into the mistake of assuming older, mature, rescue pets may come house broken and trained. This is often not the case.
You should be prepared to invest significant love and time into your rescue dog as in some cases they require more training than a puppy due to behavior modification and re-building trust.
Lesson Two: Dogs Require a Compatible Parent
Become a dog-parent is a two-way relationship. You get a four-legged friend who unconditionally loves you. Your canine friend requires a dog-parent who is stable, can build trust with them and is compatible.
Compatibility means your dog’s temperament and activity levels are similar to yours. It’s not a good idea for a single male working 14 hours a day, living in an apartment to adopt a very active German Shepherd dog the two don’t match.
Lesson Three: The Animal Needs a Home
Adopting a dog (or cat) is a decision which, in some cases, can last for up to 15 years. In a typical case, a dog will live until 12 years old, and cats can easily get older than 18 years. Considering most rescue dogs and cats are between two to three years old you will own Fido for around nine years.
Circumstances can change during those nine years. However, it’s important to know that those decisions should be made with your rescue dog in mind, moving to a new home which doesn’t allow pets and returning your pet to a shelter is not a positive decision.
Lesson Four: Understand How Animals Learn
A dog learns through operant conditioning. The theory behind their learning is known as positive reinforcement training and revolves around the dog associating positive rewards for performing a consistent behavior.
The importance behind training a dog shouldn’t be misunderstood. You should familiarize yourself with how to train a dog before considering adoption as this may influence your decision once you understand the commitment you are making.
Lesson Five: A Pet Costs Money
The final lesson to learn is the adoption fee for a rescue animal is a small financial commitment for a much larger expense. Pets cost money. You must be responsible enough to be able to budget and be in a financial position to afford a pet before adopting one.
The rescue fee might be R950, however annual veterinary fees, feed bulls, toys, training classes and more can easily exceed R15000 each year.
In summary, I hope these five lessons will help you when making your decision on dog (or cat) adoption. You should make sure you have enough time, money, responsibility and commitment when considering adopting a pet.
John is a dog lover and trainer at All Things Dogs. He is on a mission to train, teach and share his knowledge with over 40 million dog lovers around the world.