Adopting a Shelter Dog

Adopting a shelter dog and saving it from a possible early death can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience for you, your family and especially the dog.

In most cities the cost to adopt a shelter dog is relatively cheap. Most shelters only charge a modest fee for adopting a dog but that fee actually covers only a small part of the shelter’s costs for food, healthcare, facilities and care giving. Dogs housed in animal shelters will have been examined to make sure they’re in good health before being put up for adoption. The dogs are usually vaccinated, wormed and neutered or spayed. In well-run shelters, a dog’s behavior has been assessed so a prospective new owner can be better matched to the type of dog they want.

Before taking your family to the local animal shelter to choose a new dog, you should understand that the cost of adoption is only a small fraction of the total cost of owning a dog. The average dog owner will spend approximately $ 2,200 per year on food, medical care, vet visits and other dog related expenses. The actual yearly outlay of expenses will vary depending on the type of dog, and also why it ended up in the animal shelter.

Many dogs are surrendered to shelters because they have serious behavior problems, and a new owner will have to contend with those behaviors as well as fear and abandonment issues a dog may have from being mistreated or abandoned to a shelter.

It’s fairly easy to recognize a shelter dog who has fear issues. The dog may run or hide from strangers, bark a lot, or growl at humans. It can be difficult to reduce a dog’s fear, but if you fall in love with a dog displaying those symptoms, understand that those fears can be overcome with patience on your part.

If you’re thinking of adopting a shelter dog, you should get some background information on any dog you’re seriously considering. There are some dogs in shelters who have been given back several times because new owners couldn’t cope with the dog’s crying, barking or other destructive behavior when left alone. Sometimes this is caused simply by separation anxiety where the dog becomes fearful every time its owner leaves it alone. You can lessen this fear by spending as much time as possible with your new dog, gradually cutting down on the amount of time spent one-on-one.

Unfortunately, many dogs who end up in shelters have never been properly potty trained. If this is the case, you’ll need to treat the dog as it were a puppy. Set a regular schedule of when you take your dog outside to go. When it does its duty, reward it with a treat and praise. It shouldn’t take long for the dog to associate going outside to the bathroom with getting a tasty treat.

Many dogs are surrendered to shelters simply because their owners never taught them how to behave. A dog may display unwanted behavior such as jumping on people, humping people’s legs, or ignoring you when you tug on its leash.

While some people are not bothered by this type of behavior, some are and become very distressed by their inability to correct the behavior. The poor dog then ends up abandoned to a shelter. If the owner had a little more patience and understanding of dog behavior, these unwanted actions could be easily corrected with a little bit of positive training. If you’re adopting a shelter dog be sure it’s the right one for you before taking it home.

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Win Grumpy Cat’s Odor Eliminator!

Even in the dog world, everyone knows Grumpy Cat! The perpetually scowling feline has become an Internet celebrity, known for everything from “writing” the Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book to…



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DogTipper

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Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization for Dogs (Part 3)

Basic Graduation 2-14-12

Last week I described the counter-condition and desensitization process (CC&DS). When is it the right approach, as opposed to addressing a problem with reward-based training?

Deciding that an association is causing your dog to behave a certain way means making assumptions about what is going on "inside" the dog. These kinds of assumptions are not always right. As a matter of fact, these kinds of assumptions are what can lead to describing a dog as stubborn, dumb, or even the dreaded (and horribly misused) "dominant." Which is not a personality attribute dammit. But I digress…

With the understanding that we are making judgements based on our dog’s body language and behavior there is a general rule we can follow. We use CC&DS to change an undesirable response to a stimulus that seems to be driven by a negative reaction to the stimulus. Let’s consider three possible responses to a human stranger approaching a dog:

  1. The dog attempts to escape.
  2. The dog lunges, growls, barks, in what we would characterize as an aggressive manner.
  3. The dog attempts to jump up and greet the person.

In numbers one and two the dog’s reaction is negative. Both reactions are likely driven by fear. In number three his reaction is positive – he is happy to see the person and wants to greet them, albeit in an inappropriate manner.

We need to change the emotional response in scenarios one and two. A dog that is attempting to flee or attack cannot be taught to greet someone politely, and even if it were possible, he would probably still be distressed. We want to make him more comfortable. This is job for CC&DS.

In scenario three the dog is happy to see people! We certainly don’t want to change that. We have a training problem: we need to teach him how to greet people politely.

In situations where we need to make something "bad" become something "good" (or at least a lot less bad) we use CC&DS. In a situation where something is already good but the response is what is "bad" we use training.

That’s it for CC&DS in this series. Next week we move on to a new chapter in the ABC’s.

But before we move on, here’s a cute video illustrating how classical conditioning works. I wish I had found it when I started this series.

Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization for Dogs (Part 3) is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey


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mite mä alotin youtubettamisen?

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