In my years of seeing clients and working in animal shelters, I frequently see people who have selected the wrong dog for their lifestyle or family situation. As a trainer, many people have hired me in attempts to train the dogs out of behaviors that are genetically programmed into the dog or to train a young, energetic pup to be calm. It’s disturbing that these dogs are most likely to end up in shelters or at rescues. And that makes me mad because had the owners done just a little research, they would have learned that the dog wasn’t best suited for them. But then again, they probably would have ignored the information and got the dog anyway. Dogs are an emotional and often an impulse purchase.

I had a client many years ago who was in her early 70’s. She found an adolescent Pit Bull in a shelter but the shelter rejected her application. They felt that she couldn’t handle the dog. So what happens? Her son (an adult who should have known better) went to the shelter, said the dog was for him and adopted it for his mother. It became evident very quickly that this dog was truly too much for her. Of course, the call comes to me for help. The dog was jumping, nipping, barking, and knocking the woman down. She had scratches and bruises all over her arms and legs and a fat lip. Not a pretty sight! But she was determined to keep the dog. I tried to help her by gently suggesting that this dog was not right for her. Nor was it fair to the dog who lived in a very small yard, chained to a post and his only exercise was running in circles around the post. No walks, no playtime. I worked with her for a few sessions and the dog improved but not enough to stop the dog from wanting to run and play like every young dog needs. I later heard that the woman fell and broke both legs. I shutter to think about it and hope that the dog wasn’t to blame.

Another example of the wrong dog: My neighbor who lives in a townhouse had two Border Collies. And…he never walked them. The only outside exercise they received was a quick potty out in the yard then back inside. Eventually, one of the dogs became aggressive which is the case with Border Collies who are frustrated from not being able to perform their natural instincts of herding and running. They euthanized this dog and then bought a puppy. A Labrador!!  Yet another dog who needs to run. What were they thinking?

I could expound more about the disastrous choices that people make when they get dogs but the bottom line is this: Please do your research on the dog breed before you take it home. Yes, you’re in love but that love can soon turn to dislike when the dog’s personality doesn’t match your lifestyle.  This is just one way that everyone can help prevent homeless dogs.

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