Rehoming

Coming from a background in animal shelters I understand all too well that sometimes rehoming is the only option. I’ve seen the shame in the tears that are associated with these decisions.

I understand that there are times where for whatever reason a family runs into a situation where they could no longer keep their family pet. There is always embarrassment and guilt associated with this.

It is not a trainers responsibility to judge, it is simply their responsibility to help.

Sometimes the trainer will agree it is for the best especially in cases with aggression and minors in the home.

If you are faced with the decision to rehome your dog no matter the reason here are some people you should contact before you consider the shelter.

The breeder

Most breeders want to be contacted if living situations change or problems arise with the dog. Many breeders even have it in the contract that they be contacted in case of rehoming. Good breeders consider themselves responsible for the lifetime of every puppy.

The rescue

Like breeders if you adopted through a reputable rescue it’s likely in the contract that you must contact them before rehoming. Good rescues consider them self responsible for the lifetime of the dog.

The trainer

A trainer has a good idea of what a great home for your dog is. They understand your dogs energy needs, Behavior struggles and can likely help you screen potential adopters to make sure they’re good fit. They may even be able to send potential adopters your way. They can also help to work to ensure that the new adopter doesn’t run into problems. Many will post the dog amongst other dog training friends.

Your vet

Your veterinarian is another good resource. He sees dog lovers all day and may have an ideal placement in mind for your dog. While they see new puppies daily they also see people who have lost their pet. They are often keeping an eye open for a client’s next dog.

Your groomer

If you’ve been using the same groomer it’s likely that they’ve been seeing him since puppyhood. Your groomer has a long list of clients who care deeply about their pets needs. Just like the veterinarian their clients are lifelong which means they see people who lose their pet and may be interested in finding another match for their home.

While animal people can rarely agree on much I think that there is one thing that they can agree on…. animal professionals have the best interest of the animal at heart.

If you come to a place where you need to rehome your dog don’t forget to contact the animal professionals that have watched your pet grow up too!

If you must place the task of rehoming in someone else’s hands and a animal care professional you work closely with is unable to help then consider the following factors when deciding how to surrender your dog.

Choosing where to surrender. Not all shelters and rescues are created equal.

Some animal shelters and rescues have more resources for medical treatment than others. Yet there are some that specialize in behavior modification. Keep in mind what your pet’s specific needs are when you’re deciding.

Many animal shelters and rescues have a surrender fee. This can range from a small donation to $200. While it may seem like a no-brainer to pick a place that doesn’t have a surrender fee keep in mind that the surrender fee often correlates with the live release rate, not always but most of the time. Surrender fees pay for the care of your pet will receive while with the shelter, although it rarely pays for all of it.

There are also breed-specific rescues. If you have a breed that is considered difficult or is it unusual breed then you might consider a breed rescue. For example and Malinois rescue May interview people more in-depth to make sure that they understand a high drive dog.

Be one hundred percent honest when you surrender your dog and ask that they be honest with you as well. Sometimes owners won’t want to disclose information such as a dog not being fully house trained. It’s important that you disclose this information so that the shelter or rescue can share it with the adopters. Some families are perfectly willing to work on house training while for others it will be a deal-breaker. Provide that information so they can make their own choice. This will make it less likely that your dog is returned to the shelter or rescue. The more information that the shelter or rescue has the better understanding they will have of what kind of home your dog needs.

Why I wrote this

I decided to write this one day while volunteering at the animal shelter.

While dog walking one day I saw a man at the counter that I recognized, but I couldn’t quite place where I knew him from. I continued about my business until I was walking through the kennels and I saw a Cane Corso.

As soon as I saw this dog I knew where I knew the man from.

This dog had been a student of mine. His owner had signed him up for a six week training course almost 8 months earlier. He stopped attending classes after the third week and I never heard from him again.

I walked over and greeted the dog, he was so scared. I went into the kennel with him and ask him to do some of the obedience that I had remembered he had learned. He performed sit, down, focus and even a leave it without hesitation.

When I went and asked the kennel staff why the dog was there they explain that the owner was moving out of state. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself don’t my students know that I’m here to help them? Did he not know that I would have assisted him in finding placement for his dog? Why wouldn’t he reached out to the professionals in his life like his dog’s veterinarian or trainer?

Here are some photos of shelter dogs..

My dog Charlie helping a shelter pitbull

It’s all good in the neighborhood

mastiff

You love your dog, so it can be hard to think about anyone not seeing him for the crazy love bug that he is. However hard it may be to imagine, some people simply do not like dogs, and some of those people may just live in your neighborhood. Here are three common problems dog owners face and how to solve them if you want to be a conscientious neighbor.

Excessive Barking, Baying, or Howling

Barking, baying, or howling every now and again is normal. However, if your dog is making excess noise for extended periods of time, it is considered a form of noise pollution and a valid complaint on your neighbor’s part.

A common cause behind a dog’s excessive noise is separation anxiety. The best way to remedy anxiety is by making sure your dog is getting enough activity and providing him with things to do when you are away. Most people are not walking their dogs enough. If you are walking your pup less than 15 minutes twice a day, it’s time to hit the pavement more often for your dog’s well-being. If you don’t have time to walk your dog because of long hours at the office, hire a dog walker who can stop by throughout the day to provide your dog with fresh air and exercise. This should help reduce the noise as well as other destructive behaviors your dog may exhibit due to anxiety and boredom.

Your Dog Keeps Getting Into Neighbors’ Yards

If your dog keeps escaping into neighbors’ yards, you haven’t done enough to maintain your fence. If it is full of holes or has loose boards, it may be worth it to replace it entirely. The average price to install a wood fence runs from $1,434 to $3,362. If your fence is in good shape but your dog just keeps finding ways to escape, you can fortify it with some of these dog-proofing techniques:

  • Use landscaping as a way to create a buffer area between your dog and the fence.
  • Stick bamboo or reed rolls along the inside of the fence to prevent him from digging underneath.
  • Place a concrete footer around the perimeter.
  • Use coyote rollers along the top of the fence to keep a jumping dog from being able to make it over.

Your Dog’s Leaves Messes Behind

If you are not picking up after your dog when walking in the neighborhood or at the park, it’s not really your dog’s behavioral issue—that is you being a bad neighbor! In just about every city, village, and township, there is some sort of regulation that requires dog owners to pick up after their pooches. Leaving dog feces on the ground leaves other people, pets, and animals susceptible to the harmful viruses, bacteria, and pesticides it can contain. If it rains, all those harmful organisms get washed into your area’s water system. It’s just bad news all around.

Always keep bags on you when you are spending time with your dog, and pick up after him. If you are worried about the amount of plastic these bags contribute, you can find compostable and biodegradable versions in just about any specialty pet store.

As much as you love your dog, not everyone is going to love his behavior. If your pup spends his free time creating noise pollution, chances are he has too much energy to burn. Up the amount of walks you take and consider hiring help when you’re logging many hours at the office. If your dog is an escape artist, you may need a new fence or reinforcements to curb his wily ways. Finally, you need to pick up your dog’s poop. Dog feces is harmful to people, pets, animals, and your local water supply. Always carry biodegradable bags on you when taking your dog in public so you can clean up after him.

 

Jessica Brody created OurBestFriends.pet to offer a place for animal lovers to share their favorite pet photos and stories about their furry pals.

Separation Anxiety 

Separation anxiety is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed and mistreated behavior issues. Many veterinarians, pet store workers, and even trainers misdiagnose dogs and provide owners with bad advice that will be counterproductive to True separation anxiety. Separation anxiety or any other anxiety is never fixed overnight. 

Is it truly anxiety?

1. Is your dog anxious and other areas? Does your dog easily become stressed in a new environment?  It is pretty rare for a dog to only be anxious in one area such as during separation. Most of the time dogs that have true anxiety will display anxiety and other situations as well

2. Is your dog chewing and digging at the doors and windows? Or is your dog chewing up everything? Most dogs with separation anxiety will fixate at points of exit such as the front door or window.

3. Does your dog start to get anxious when you’re getting ready for work in the morning? A dog that is simply chewing or getting into trouble while you’re away due to boredom will not become worried when you start preparing for work however a dog with anxiety will.

I like to break down treatment of separation anxiety into three separate categories. Management, training (behavior modification), and medical.

Here are some MANAGEMENT (not treatment) rules for separation anxiety. 

1.     Leave a radio or T.V. on.

2.    Give a high value bone as you are walking out the door.  As soon as you come home pick up the bone.  You want him to think “oh man, mom’s home.”  These bones also act as a pacifier. Pick up raw natural meat bones at specialty pet stores such as chuck and dawn, heroes pets, or wag and wash. Be sure to switch them out daily, so your dog doesnt get bored. 

3. Never get excited when you come home.  Stay calm for the first ten minutes and ignore the dog.
4. Your dog needs to be exercised hard enough that they are out of breath.  Not a little out of breath, exhausted.  This will release the same feel good chemicals in the brain as it does in humans.  
5. Practice Calm behaviors before leaving the house such as relax on a mat.

6. Record yourself reading a chapter or two out of a book. Play it looped when you leave the house and another room.

7. Dog walker, dog daycare or dog sitter. Some dogs me still experience anxiety when their owners are out of site, but a stranger is present. Most dogs have a much easier time to adjusting if they are being checked on through the day or even better staying with somebody through the day.

Separation anxiety is never treated through just one method. It frequently takes layering treatments such as medication and behavior modification for separation anxiety to be treated.  
I strongly recommend that you get with a veterinarian who has additional education in Behavior. We call these Veterinary behaviorists. They can address all three elements needed to truly treat separation anxiety.

 For more information on separation anxiety please visit the videos.

What is Anxiety in Dogs
Treating Anxiety in Dogs

Surrendering for Behavior

Training Obligation Pit

When I started training professionally I was working at a non-profit shelter in Colorado.  I got to assist in completing many families by helping to add a new pet to the home, but 2-3 times a day a owner would walk through the front door with tears in their eyes knowing they would be leaving without their beloved family pet.  Surrendering a dog to a shelter is sometimes the only option for a family that has fallen on hard times.  When it comes to behavior issues I was finding that most of the dogs can stay in the home.  If the owner has the resources to change the behavior.

Most of the time the behavior issues we were seeing dogs being surrendered for could easily be corrected within just a few training sessions. In attempt to keep the dogs in their home, I would start a conversation with the owner, by asking them why they were surrendering their dog. Then they would describe a behavior issue that they could no longer bring themselves to deal with. To this I would follow up with, “Have you considered training or behavior modification?”


Inevitably, I would be given one of three answers,

“yes, we’ve been training him ourselves. I’ve owned dogs all my life.” “Yes, we did puppy classes when he was little.”  or “Yes, we spent, insert a ridiculous amount of money here, and we didn’t see any changes in the behavior. I don’t think this dog is fixable.”


Hearing this broke my heart. 


“Yes, I trained him myself I’ve owned dogs all my life.”
Sometimes we are blessed with a dog that is well-adjusted, socialized from an early age and doesn’t have any hiccups along the way. 


Talk to any professional dog trainer from box store beginner to world champion level and I guarantee you that they have used another trainer for their own dog. It isn’t because they haven’t owned dogs before or they are not experienced enough.  It is for the same reason that football players have coaches. Two heads are always better than one and having a coach can provide you with a new perspective to your dog’s behavior and bring new solutions to the table.   If you have experience training dogs in the past that’s great news! That means your trainer will be able to help you solve your dog’s behavior problems even faster than somebody who has no experience at all.   Don’t let your ego be the reason your dog walks into a shelter.

Another challenge I often see with D.I.Y. dog training is behavior problems being misdiagnosed.   I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve gotten to assist a owner with a “aggressive” or “protective” dog and evaluate the dog only to find a fearful dog that had learned to successfully ask for space by barking and lunging at strangers.  If the dog’s owners preceded in D.I.Y. training they could have very easily made the problem much worse. Instead, with a accurate diagnosis of the dog’s behavioral problem we were able to address the root causes of the behavior and with the fearful emotion addressed the dog no longer felt the need to ask for space in such a way. 


Dog training is a evolving profession.  You wouldn’t want your doctor for a life threatening illness, to be a friend who got his medical education from watching DR. OZ, why would you allow a neighbor who got his dog training education from watching The Dog Whisper on TV to treat your dog?  If you are considering surrendering for a behavior issue this is a life threating illness for your dog.

“Yes, we did puppy classes when he was little.”

First let me congratulate you for being a proactive pet parent. Not enough people go to puppy classes when they’re puppies are young. That being said puppy classes are not meant for behavior modification. These classes are meant to teach your puppy to focus on you in a structured environment, build confidence, socialize and to start a foundation for obedience.  In all honesty the great majority of the most popular box stores fall short at even this.

While I can’t stress how important these puppy classes are, they’re not a lifetime fix for your dog. Many dogs depending on breed will go through major behavioral changes throughout their lifetime.  Adolescent dogs will need guidance during each one of these phases in order to prevent behavior issues from developing.  These types of puppy classes, no matter how good the instructor is, won’t prevent behavior issues as they become teen dogs.  That comes through continued practice, training and structure.  Even a perfectly raised puppy may develop behavior issues.

If training and structured socialization stops after a 6-week puppy class on a four month old Neapolitan Mastiff puppy there’s bound to be big trouble when it hits two and a half years old.

Think about it like this, imagine that a child goes to a school where they learn how to share, how to talk about their feelings, and how to be a good person. While the lessons they learned when they were young were undoubtedly, valuable they may need additional assistance reinforcing these lessons in the home.  Additionally, if the parents started to notice abnormal behaviors it wouldn’t be acceptable for the parents to say “well, they already went to kindergarten, so they should just grow out of it.”


“Yes, we spent, insert a ridiculous amount of money here, and we didn’t see any changes in the behavior. I don’t think this dog is fixable.”

Unfortunately, there is no regulations in the dog training field. There are certifications. Some of certifications mean that the trainer was tested and assessed other certifications are simply obtained through a membership fee. Just because you spent big dollars on professional dog training doesn’t mean they have big skill.

I wish it was that simple. 

I have seen board and train facilities that cost $3,000 to send your dog to for month and yield absolutely no results.

This is a buyer beware industry whether you’re looking to purchase a puppy or looking to get that puppy into training classes.

How to pick a good trainer
Well, the proof is in the pudding.
Don’t only  talk to one trainer. Interview several dog trainers before deciding where to enroll your dog.  If you’re considering surrendering your dog because of behavior issues, we will go ahead and consider the behaviors serious. If the trainer doesn’t yield results, then the result of the trainer’s short coming is the dog being rehomed. Take your time finding a good trainer. Ask to see dogs that they have trained.  Are you really impressed?

Look for a trainer who has the best results in several dogs not just one.

Ask if you can come and watch a class. I don’t know any trainer who wouldn’t let someone come and watch a session without a dog.  Choose the trainer you are seeing the best results with I can’t stress that enough. 

Furthermore, talk to the trainer about their training philosophies. Make sure that it’s a training philosophy that you’re comfortable with. If you don’t believe in the philosophy or you’re not comfortable utilizing it, it’s not going to work. You have to be able to implement the training at home for the training to stick.  If you’re considering rehoming the training must stick.

Ask for referrals.  Talk to the rescue, breeder or shelter that you purchased your dog from. Talk to your friends who have well-behaved dogs and if you see a well-behaved dog the park ask them where they got training.


Good luck, I hope that you are a little bit more willing to consider training before rehoming. I have no doubt that you love your dog.  You raised it as a puppy and you and your entire family are emotionally attached to your dog.

Before you surrender ask yourself, “if I’m not willing to take on these behavior issues can I truly expect a complete stranger with no emotional attachment to this dog to take on the behavior issues?”  Often times the real answer is “No”.

Teach pitbull