Welcome to Southwest Florida German Shepherd Inc. Wednesday, August 23 2017 @ 06:14 am UTC

WHAT MAKES A GREAT ADOPTION AND FAMILY DOG - BY ERIK HOFFER

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Having a pet in your home is a choice. Having a child is not.  Your child can turn out a mirror of his family just the same as a dog can.  When a child is born you love him regardless of anything.  You nurture him, teach and provide him with rules and principles to live by.  Cosmetics play no role in how much you love him.  His actions throughout his lifetime typically reflect how he is schooled and treated by the family and what he has learned of moral values. His development and personality are typically a product of his home and family.

A rescue dog is all of that as well. But taking in a family pet is a choice.  No one should choose a dog who would be disruptive in a home. No one should select a dog because they feel sorry for him without knowing him and what he is all about mentally.  A dog’s temperament and his history reflect on how he handles family life after rescue.  You can’t ask the dog how he might behave in certain circumstances so you need to rely on the rescue or shelter staff who has been with the dog for some period of time to give you the story on what the animal is all about.  A trial period of fostering is also a reasonable approach to this decision.

Not all rescues are perfect and many shelters fail to have the experience or ability to determine the behavior of a particular dog because they have not had the dog in any situations beside possible walking him.  Because we are always concerned about the temperament of an animal and how he will fit into a home, we carefully vet these dogs by testing them with other dogs, people, situations, and stress.  Over these many years I have found the vast majority of rescue dogs to be grateful and reflect that appreciation in their dedication to the family.  German Shepherds above all other breeds seem to have this outward appreciation for their rescuer and are able to positively assimilate into most any family structure.

Every dog is different and every family is different.  Whether you have small screaming kids or you are of an age that you want quiet and calm in your life, choosing an animal that suits your lifestyle is the key to a successful adoption.  At my rescue we try and vet both the family and the dog and then test them together to see how each suits the other.  Many times dogs who may seem one way will soon show their real colors after a few days with the family.  After 3 weeks the dog typically owns the new family and has totally bonded.  The period of adjustment helps both the family and the dog decide if the match was a good one or not.  A dog who seemed placid may have severe separation anxiety which was not obvious during the evaluation period. Other dogs who seemed hyper can become couch potatoes after they settle in.  Observation and training help determine how the animal will turn out. Just as in raising a child, what you teach them, what rules you set, what authority figure you represent, what respect you get and give will all determine how the animal blends into your family.  The grater the lack of rules and guidance the more apt the animal is to fail and be returned.  The more understanding you give the dog through training and positive reinforcement the better he will be, because he then knows what you expect and what he has to do to get the praise you are offering.  When both needs are met the animal and family become one.

When choosing a dog, especially a GSD you should always spend an adequate amount of time with the rescuer and the dog to see how your family (every individual living with the dog) reacts to the dog.  By getting enough information you will make the process a far better one and the results more refined.  Just going to a shelter and taking a dog with sad eyes will not always work out the way you want it to.  Without knowing the individual animal, you can’t make a reasonable adoption decision, and this can lead to tragedy.  It can be the basis of the dog destroying your home, a possible bite case within your family or friends, a nightmare of costs to address a medical issue or a problem stemming from the dog being out of control and unhandleable.   Training can help, but a wise choice up front will always dictate how the adoption works.

When adopting make sure that the breed you are selecting is one that works within your family. Be considerate of older people who are far too frail to interact with a large possibly clumsy dog.  Make sure that if you get a small ankle biter that you can get him under control so he doesn’t chew on your child.  Make sure that family members are not allergic nor too fastidious to accept major hair balls and sage brush tumbleweeds flowing through the house.  Make sure you have the time for any dog regardless of breed because dogs, like kids, need your time and attention.  Make sure you have the band width to provide training time and play time for the dog as part of the family.  Make sure you can afford the dog you choose, they ae not cheap to own and care for.  Dogs that are left to their own devices become bored and then destructive.  Don’t get a pet if you don’t intend to get one for life, or have a kid that becomes a burden for that matter.  Make sure that everyone in the household is in on the dog decision from breed to size and from individual to individual, make sure there is consensus before taking a dog home.  Don’t get a dog on impulse because you want one. Wait for the right dog. Decisions on animals made in haste often turn out to be bad ones for the family and for the dog.  A rescue dog returned a few times may be put down because the shelter doesn’t understand why the dog was returned multiple time, through NO fault of the dog.  Don’t get more dogs than you can afford or handle. Don’t take on a dog project that you can’t see through to the end.

Make your decision based on known facts about the dog, interaction with the family members, consensus of everyone who will live with the dog and love.