Red Flags When Adopting a Dog: What to Look for and What to Do
One of the best ways to invite a four-legged-friend into your life is through adoption. There are millions of animals looking for homes. By adopting one, you give it a chance at love and life. Adoption costs little, allows you to fight against puppy mills, and adoption counselors can help find a pup that’s the perfect fit for you.
The process of adoption does require research, thought, and care. At a shelter, you’ll find a variety of dogs with a variety of pasts. Some pups have been abandoned by loving families that can’t care for them anymore. Other dogs have been raised in abusive or uncaring environments, or even without owners at all.
Because of their unfortunate pasts and/or the stress of living in a shelter, some dogs can exhibit negative behaviors. These behaviors can include:
- Separation anxiety
- Being possessive/aggressive over their food
- Peeing indoors
- Hoarding resources (food, treats, toys, etc.)
Signs of Negative Behavior
While these specific behaviors may be tough to spot at the adoption center, you can sometimes see the signs.
- The dog barks at you excessively, growls, or lunges — It may have trouble adjusting to new and strange people and situations.
- The dog is too calm when you approach it, not reacting at all — This could possibly mean it doesn’t like strangers, or it may not be feeling well.
- The dog remains at the back of its cage, whimpering and shaking — This may mean that it is afraid of people.
- The dog barks happily and acts very playfully — This could indicate that the dog is friendly but needs training.
Approach a pup’s kennel calmly. Ask to take the dog for a walk, and see how it reacts around others. Be sure to ask the shelter about the dog’s history to help determine if the pup is right for you.
If a pup exhibits red flags, should you avoid it at all costs?
No, not necessarily. Most dogs you’ll find in shelters are broken, but you can help put the pieces back together into something even better than before.
Here are a few tips for eliminating negative behaviors.
- If your dog is fearful of others, give it have some space — Some pups take a bit of time to warm up to new owners. Training them won’t happen overnight.
- Spray the dog with water if it tries to pee in your house — The dog won’t like it, but it won’t hurt the pup.
- Try crate training in order to reduce separation anxiety.
- Hire a professional dog trainer if you’re struggling to train your pup.
Remember that no dog is perfect, but with appropriate behavioral training and guidance, your rescue dog has great potential. Do some research before going to the shelter, and keep your eye out for negative behaviors that can be made positive!