Did we make the right decision in getting a dog? When adopting a rescue dog, how do you know it’s the right dog? How do you know you are ready for your first dog? Is it a good idea to get a dog?
Many people don’t realize how much work it takes to raise a dog. Movies and TV shows paint this picture in our minds that dogs are perfect in every way. They come into our homes, lay at our feet, go outside to go potty, curl up on the couch with us at the end of a long day at work… but what those movies don’t show is all the time spent training that dog.
My heart breaks having to write this week’s #AskingForMyDog post. I received the email below from Melissa. I responded immediately to her but never heard back. Then I realized she had unsubscribed to my email list. This leads me to believe that she may have returned the dog. Here is her email:
“Our new pup is doing ok but having a few issues such as doing zoomies at high speed in our yard, biting the frozen ground as she goes… will not settle down and seems like she’s possessed, and she gets overzealous when we try to calm her down.
Another HUGE problem is getting her to go into her crate as we both work, she will not go unless we drag her into it! Super frustrating and makes me late for work because I’m afraid she’ll bite me. HELP!!!
It’s been 7 days with her so far. I’m now wondering if we made the right decision in getting a dog?
The shelter said she was 4, our vet told us she is 2 … we can diffidently tell she’s 2.”
Every dog is unique in how they handle the stress of a new home. 7 days is way too quick to judge their true personality. If you haven’t read the 3-3-3 Rule, go do that now: Bringing Home a Rescue Dog and the 3-3-3 Rule
A rescue dog needs time to decompress, adjust, learn the rules, create a bond with their new family. This cannot be done in just a few days or even weeks. It takes several months. Put yourself in your dog’s paws, how would you feel?
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Adopting a high-energy dog when you want a low-energy dog is a big mistake. Now, to be fair, it’s not always possible to know the dog’s energy level when adopting from a shelter.
But this is where research and asking a lot of questions can help you find the right dog for you and your family.
Melissa started out her email by saying her dog is doing zoomies in the yard, biting at the ground and just won’t settle down.
My first question to her is if she has taken the dog for a walk. What type of physical and mental exercise does the dog get?
The overzealous behavior she describes leads me to believe the dog is not getting any exercise other than playing in the back yard.
This is one of the biggest mistakes new dog owners make… thinking that a dog can be let outside in the backyard and be done with her exercise for the day. Playtime is great, but for most dogs, not enough. Take the dog for a long walk, play mental games with her, spend some time training for fun.
Melissa also stated she was struggling with getting the dog into the crate so she can go to work.
Two issues here… one, if the dog is still full of energy, of course, she doesn’t want to go in the crate. Would you? This dog needs a long walk and playtime.
Second, crate training any new dog can take time and patience. Now I realize that we all have to work. But you need to plan ahead… take a few extra days off of work when first adopting a dog. This will allow you some time to work on issues like crate training.
I hold no judgment towards Melissa if she did return the dog. But this email is the exact purpose and inspiration of why I created Rescue Dogs 101, to help people BEFORE they realize they made a huge mistake in adopting a dog.
Of course, there are always situations where we just end up with the wrong dog, it happens and it’s okay. It happened to me and I thought I did everything right.
Situations, where the wrong dog and wrong family are matched, can be limited. Adopting a rescue dog requires special care on our part. Don’t get a dog just because she’s cute or you want a cuddle buddy. Owning a dog is so much more.
And if it’s your first dog, research by asking friends and family, read books, use this website as a resource for all things rescue dog!
Recommended reading just for you:
Have a question of your own? Email me with the subject line #AskingForMyDog and I may choose to feature it in our next Q&A!
Rescue Dogs 101 is a community where we help each other in times of need. Adopting and raising a rescue dog can be rough. Please leave a word of encouragement below in the comments. Sharing your story can help someone else going through the same struggles as you.
Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.