... Especially for First-Time Owners
When you are first considering adding a dog to your family and you thoroughly thought the next most daunting question is usually: "Where's the best place and how do I know what type of dog will work for me?" For long-time readers, my next answer will probably be obvious. Go to your local animal shelter or Humane Society. It's my favourite answer, and I'm most happy to tell you why I think so.
The Truth About "Baggage"
A dog is there for a reason. I don't want a dog who has a lot of baggage or behaviour problems to work out.
I'm almost on the fence about this statement. It is partially true that some dogs end up in shelters due to behaviour problems, and for every dog there is a reason. The truth of that statement completely depends on your definition of "good reason" or "ridiculous excuse".
- "We're moving and don't want to pack him too." or "We bought new furniture."
- Behavioural problems that are easily overcome by proper care
- "I didn't think he'd get this big."
- "He cost too much."
- Inadequate time for proper care
Now that the issue of suspected "baggage" has been hopefully cleared up, I'll get right to the point of why I believe that all dog owners, dog owner-wannabes should walk straight to their shelter for their newest family members. Yes, it's also true that I state the shelter as the best place for somebody who is completely new to dogs as well, more so than veteran owners even.
Reason Number One for New Dog People
Nobody wants a home to work out well and be a good match more than the people who work at the shelters and rescues. They will do their utmost best to ensure that the dog you leave with is the right dog for you in every way possible. These good-hearted people know the quirks and personalities of the dogs they work, have assessed them and can often tell you why the dog was relinquished in the first place. More often than not, the dog they match you up with is better for you than any dog you may have bought from a breeder.
The Second Reason - Skip The Frustrations
The most frustrating age for all dog owners seems to be "puppy puberty", when everything your dog has learned suddenly flies out of its head and boundaries are strenuously tested again. By adopting an older dog you'll be past the housetraining stage, the teething and destructive stage of a five month old puppy, and maybe the adolescent stage that has many an owner in tears of frustration. More Reasons to Adopt an Older Dog
For those who are adamant about starting off with a puppy, there are still a lot of puppies, from birth to six months of age in rescues and shelters. Often they are brought in as a litter that somebody just doesn't want the hassle of. Sometimes these are purebreds, from "Oops" litters, sometimes they are so well stirred as to be unidentifiable.
Most dogs in a shelter or rescue are in their best years (ages four years and up), laid back, comfortable in their skin, just happy to be at one with their new families. Not too old that any undesirable habits can't be improved, and still at an age to learn and be playful, many adoptive families find that adopting an older dog is a very rewarding and worth-repeating experience.