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- A previous visit to the adoptive person or volunteer of the Foundation
- Signing an adoption agreement (in the case of puppy adoption sign an undertaking to be sterilized / castrated dog after reaching a certain age – making the surgery will be checked)
- In the absence of a personal check on the dog, we will try to assist in transportation (request for reimbursement of fuel costs)
- Going from a shelter the dog is vaccinated for rabies, infectious diseases, chipped, sterilized / castrated (adult)
- Reserve the right to post-placement visits
- Adoptive agreement – model
It is worthwhile to make some preparations before you take a dog from an animal shelter. Do you want to help a dog that has suffered a lot in its life? This is the attitude that deserves respect. Each dog needs to have a filing of safety and belonging. If you surround it with love, it will love you in return. However, remember that dogs communicate with the world differently than humans. Before you take a dog to your house, prepare for it. Here is a few tips:
You are sure of your decision, ready to undertake a challenge. You want to take in a dog from a shelter. You reach the animal shelter and… what’s next? They are so many dogs, all the tumult and barking… How to choose this one dog among so many?
Frequently, we don’t know a lot about the dog’s past. Sometimes the shelter’s workers are given information that the particular dog was maltreated or abandoned by its owner. You may want to spend a while talking to caregivers about the dog’s past and how it ended up in the shelter. Likewise, it is worthwhile to ask about the dog’s age, its health condition and reaction to people, how long it has been in a shelter and where it was found (in the city or in the countryside).
Depending on a type of relation with people in a shelter , we can single out three major types of dog’s conduct (in other words: attitude towards people). They are easy to recognize as each type displays distinctive behavior.
1. Top student
Type: Do you remember the cat from “Shrek 2”, and its huge dark eyes? This is the pattern of behavior displayed by the first type. This kind of dog is trying to say with its whole body: ‘Take me! I’ll be your best friend!’. In case of these dogs, the need of closeness and safety is so strong, that they would do everything to get out of a shelter.
Exemplary behaviour: they jump on the wire net, friendly welcome everybody, encourage you to stroke them, look for the contact with people. Usually, there are no problems with dogs like that, though they follow the rule ‘what isn’t forbidden, is allowed’, therefore they may start walking all over their owners and eventually became a trouble.
How to deal with them: It is very important to state the rules in the beginning and hold on to them. Your dog will feel great knowing what you expect of it and where are the boundaries it mustn’t cross.
Type: indifferent or even ‘haughty’ towards people.
Exemplary behaviour: they don’t jump on the wire net, don’t welcome anyone effusively, don’t try to draw anyone’s attention. It might be due to some painful experience, that caused a dog to lose its trust in people. This kind of dog is not that mentally strong as the ‘Top student’ type and doesn’t feel good surrounded with the noise made by other dogs.
How to deal with them: The first task for the new owner is to give a dog the felling of safety, and to rebuild its trust in people. Dealing with a dog of the second type is harder than with a dog of the first type, but it is very rewarding.
Type: fearful and scared
Exemplary behaviour: Sometimes it may attack approaching people out of fear. For this kind of dog, the world is a terrifying place and being in a shelter is hell. Its psyche is so fragile, that each new stimulus might be interpreted as dangerous and provoke self- defense reactions.
How to deal with them: This type may cause many troubles. Working with it requires a lot of patience, understanding, experience and knowledge of dog’s psyche. The rehabilitation may not be fully successful and a dog of the third type may always lack trust towards strangers and remain fearful. In some cases it may display obsessive behavior and suffer when left alone even for a short time. Before you decide to take in a dog like this, consider if you are able to manage the responsibility of being the owner of such a demanding animal.
What experiences a dog taken away from a shelter? Imagine that you are kidnapped by the aliens. They look like people but they have green skin and big eyes. They take you on their spaceship and immobilize you on the strange-looking platform. The spaceship starts moving. You are horrified. You don’t know where you are going and what will happen next. You may start to panic, even vomit out of fear. Suddenly, the spaceship lands and other aliens surround you. By way of greeting they put their fingers into your ears, stroke your belly and hold you up. Would you feel good in this situation?
What has it to do with dogs? Well, a lot.
You take a dog on a car, bus, tram or train. For a dog it is completely new place and you are a new man whom it doesn’t know or trust yet . The stress it experiences is huge. It may vomit, it may tremble with fear. You may see, that its hair is falling out by the handful and that dandruff appears on its skin. For the first few days it may have a diarrhoea.
What you should do? It will be better if you won’t cause a dog more stress by trying too hard. Hugging, calming and stroking a dog may not be helpful in this circumstances. The best thing is to let your dog rest for a few days after you brought it home. Arrange for it some kind of a ‘burrow’- asylum, a place that is quiet and safe. It might be a spot under the table, a pen or a cage covered with blanked. Don’t force your dog into entering it. Let it find an optimal place for itself. Don’t invite friends to see what a wonderful creature you have, don’t encourage children to play with the ‘doggy’. Don’t call the dog. Give it some peace and some water to drink.
In the beginning, the dog may be too stressed to eat. Don’t worry about that and wait. When it calms down it will ask you for food. Try not to change its diet too suddenly. Huge stress and sudden change in a diet may weaken dog’s immunity to illness. Your dog may easily catch a cold.
If you need to give your dog a bath, don’t use any shampoo for people. It would be great if you could wait 2-3 days to bath the dog, until it becomes familiar with its new home.
Dogs, being new in the house, may react with violent barking and anxiety to all the noises, that are new for them for instance steps in the staircase, ticking clock, noises on the street. The first night might be difficult for you, because you won’t get much sleep. But very soon your dog will get used to the new sounds and smells and it will became calm enough to interact with its surrounding.
Each time when the dog initiates an interaction by coming to you, try to make a use of it. Reward your dog by feeding it from your hand and praise it with a calm tone of voice. In the beginning it’s good to ‘burn the dog bowl’ and feed the dog from a hand, as a reward for coming to you. The next step is rewording your dog for coming when called. You don’t need to serve the dog food in one portion. If you want to, you can feed it one handful after another or one granule after another. This way of feeding convinces your dog that coming to you pays off. What is more, it gives the dog two information: that it may expect from you only positive reactions and that what it is getting from you relates to its behaviour. In this way you are becoming the source of two important things: safety and food.
During the first few days your dog may fear going outside or it may poo in the house. Stay calm and don’t shout. Your dog didn’t do it on purpose. Maybe it never lived in a house before and it doesn’t know where it should relieve itself.
Before your shared walks became a pleasure, put some effort into teaching your dog how they should look like. First of all: in the beginning always have your dog under control. Try to choose safe places, far away from the busy streets. Do not necessarily go to the nearest park where many other dogs, children and people will be interested in getting to know your new friend. To the dog’s collar ( plain, smooth collar!) attach a long rope that can trail after the dog. If your dog was to run away from you, you can always react by standing on the rope. That way you have the dog under control and that keeps your both safe. Have a few treats in your pocket. It might be something super delicious (chicken’s breast or stomach, dog’s cookies…). Whenever you call the dog, and it comes, praise it and give it a treat immediately . Repeat it as often as you can aiming to achieve the dog’s conditioned response for its name. If your dog tends to pull its lead, buy a harness in a fitting size and start using it.
Never use a spiked collar, clamp chain or similar accessories that make your dog suffer. By using them you proof your ineptitude in training a dog. If you need to punish someone- punish yourself. If your dog does something wrong it means that you didn’t show or teach it what to do and how. It’s not your pet’s fault, it’s yours. Once again think through what you’ve been doing, and try to obtain what you want from your dog by using different ways.
The dog is an animal that loves ritual behaviors. If your dog knows that it’s not allowed to sit on a sofa, that its lead hangs in the hall, that after coming back home the paws need to be cleaned- he will be a very happy dog. Ask all the household members to be consistent in applying rules you all fixed in the beginning. If you don’t want your dog to beg for food during family meals, don’t give it any opportunities which would encourage it to repeat this kind of behaviour. The first two weeks of dog’s presence in the house is the time of adaptation and all the rules should be set up just then. Later on, when your pet starts feeling safe in its new home, some unwanted behaviours (reminiscences of the earlier life) may occur. If you create a strong bond with your dog, you will be able to replace many of those behaviours with more suitable ones.
Many dogs taken from the shelters don’t like being left alone. They suffer when separated from their owners and have a tendency to destroy things around them (what shows how frustrated they are) or they howl for hours making the neighbors go up the wall. Therefore, it is recommended to provide a safe place for a dog, where it can lay undisturbed. The best solution is to teach a dog to enter its cage, which is associated with a borrow in the dog’s mind and in which there is no much space to move. It can only lay and rest in there. Many dogs, familiar with a cage, choose it as an ideal place when something unexpected is going on, for example when visitors appear or when we take a dog to live with us in a different place. You can always pack the cage and take it with you. Your dog will feel great laying in its asylum.
It isn’t hard to find on internet some discussions or information, that would help you in building a good relation with your dog. There are some recommendable websites, where veteran owners share their experience in positive dog training, positive reinforcement methods or sports for dogs. Even if you live at the end of the world you don’t need to solve all your problems yourself. Maybe someone already had solved it, and he or she may put you in touch with a good specialist or suggest some other solutions that may help you. When it comes to choosing the methods of dealing with your dog, let yourself be driven by your heart, experience and intuition backed up with scientific knowledge on dogs’ behavior and development. The more you know, the better guide you will be for your dog, and your life together will be happier.
The more you know, the better guide you will be for your dog, and your life together will be happier.
Author: Jacek Gałuszka