Beware of Dog...Adoption Myths !
Dog adoption is a wonderful chance to make a difference in your life and in the life of a dog, but beware of the common myths that can tarnish any adoption.
All too often, creative stories and misguided beliefs can develop into common myths. These misconceptions can be found anywhere and everywhere, so of course, dog adoption is no exception. But if you do not recognize these misbeliefs for what they are; untruths, you may fall victim to them and that can be detrimental to you, your family and especially, your new dog.
Let’s explore a little about the most common myths and misunderstandings that surround the process and that affect the outcome of dog adoption.
Adopted dogs are so grateful to you and they will love you and respect you because you saved them.
- Unfortunately this is not true, and many owners who do adopt a dog, realize this sooner or later. Dogs don’t actually know what the animal shelter is and they don’t know that you saved them from an uncertain future. Dogs will simply continue with the behavior that they know, even if that behavior was the reason the dog ended up in a shelter in the first place.
You can see a dog’s temperament and behavior right away at the shelter.
- A dog’s temperament and behavior may be different than it would normally be, due to the fact that the dog is in an unfamiliar environment (shelter). And it may stay that way for the first few days or weeks in your home as well. But some of the dog’s behaviors may not be triggered until specific actions or situations that may occur down the road, and therefore it is impossible to identify them all right away.
Adopting a dog is a good way to save money compared to purchasing from a breeder.
- Although most animal shelters do perform medical health checks before an animal is ready for adoption, most of these checkups are basic, routine ones, and many illnesses may go undetected. Just as with any dog member of the family, you have to be prepared for medical expenses. And all dogs will still require the same expenses after they come home, to properly feed and house and care for them.
If you make a mistake you can always return the dog back to the shelter.
- Having this attitude will not get you far when choosing a dog, not to mention that many animal shelters will simply mark the returned dog to be put down without giving the dog another chance. Many of these places simply don’t have the resources to re-home the same animal several times. Again, you can avoid this by being properly prepared before you choose to adopt a dog.
Love alone can cure anything and everything.
- Everyday, many people adopt dogs that they feel sorry for when they see them at the shelter. In most cases, to our human eyes, dogs do look sad and lonely behind those kennel doors. But, that ‘sad and lonely’ look may also potentially be a sign of a serious behavioral issue. And all too often that “sad and lonely” look is more a reflection of our own feelings than those of the dog. Adopting such a dog under the impression that your love will make everything better is the wrong approach.
You feel sorry for the life the dog has had and you don’t want to traumatize him with rules. Or you want him to have a chance to ‘trust’ you before you start any kind of training together, a chance to get settled into the new home.
- This is one of the biggest ones out there when we talk about dog adoption myths. The whole concept of adopting a dog has become a “save the world” crusade. You will often see footage of abused, scruffy, scrawny dogs, now living in rescue shelters, waiting to be saved and loved. This has created the image that dogs need time and a lot of comforting because of the background or history that they are coming from. It delivers the impression that rules and training and any other structure, can be put aside for some other time, perhaps “when the dog is ready for it”.
If your dog crouches down if you raise your hand; that is a conditioned response to that trigger. A behavior that has been created in response to that particular movement, it is the movement that the dog is responding to, the body language signal being generated that he has learned leads to an unwanted action, which he braces for. It is a learned reaction to a triggering action; not a thought-out memory of his past life of abuse.
By putting off training, rules and boundaries, this will only allow your dog to create more unwanted behaviors. Instead, you should proceed with “Desensitizing” certain situations and actions that your dog has a bad association of from his previous experiences. The steps and answers about desensitizing can be found on “dog training” and “dog behavior problems”. This way you allow your dog to create a new reaction to the triggering action.
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