I am angry, and disappointed in humans who come up with the stupidest of reasons to ‘give back’ their dogs. This particular bout of anger stems from a recent story a friend told me about how she came in contact with these ‘surrenderrers’ and what their attitude was like – toward the dog and then toward her for trying to help. I don’t wish to shame them in this post but I do want to highlight a few things one must do before they decide that ‘the dog is bad’.
1. The dog is never bad. You just need to teach them what to do and what not to do. A simple Internet search on “Positive Reinforcement” is what you need. Dogs never do anything to intentionally anger you. You just need to tell them what does and what doesn’t.
2. They need to expend energy. If they chewed up the sofa while you were gone, you should probably have exercised them before you left and left them a stuffed Kong to be busy with while you were away. They were bored, probably even anxious about you leaving, and they had energy to expend. Tiring them out and keeping them distracted discourages this boredom and anxiety. If they chew in your presence, one firm NO in a low voice like a growl, is enough. No screaming, no shouting, no drama. If you have an explosive temper, learn to control it. It’s part of growing up. (Gosh I am angry today, aren’t I ? )
3. You need obedience training. Yes, you, not the dog. It is really more for you. For you to understand how to train them. I learned through my first behavioral training to make my dog take me seriously when I need him to. The biggest problem I faced as a new parent was to not speak to him as a person. “Kahlua.. please could you not chew on the comforter.. i love you .. ” .. Wrong! Sharp “NO”. Job done. He even comes over to say sorry. The classes will teach you how to use the pup’s food or play motivation to teach them commands like “Sit” or “Stay” .. or even “Give me a hug!”
4. Regular checkups – I cannot stress this enough. Annual (atleast) for adults and as and when puppy shots are needed, for the little ones. A stitch in time, does save nine.
5. Heartworm Meds – this is not optional. Heartworms may be treatable but they are the quintessential example for prevention is better than cure. One monthly pill. That is all. It could save his life.
6. Flea and Tick Meds – would you like to be constantly itchy? Would you like the possibility of having a disease transmitted to you every time you went for a walk in the woods? I thought so. Get the meds.
7. Too many kids & too less time & now a puppy ? This is a tough one, but not impossible. Remember, you chose to bring the puppy into your life. If you did so for your kid, you should have read the fine print that you would need to do all the work. It is true. And it is not anyone’s fault. But, you should know what you are walking into when you do this. Anyway, Two year old ? Teach them to put food in the dog’s bowl. Eight year old – they can let him out in the yard to conduct business. Twelve and above – short walks can be their responsibility and the Sixteen year old can even drive him to the park and take the Thirteen year old along (please check your local dog park’s minimum entry age- yes, they do have them). I don’t claim that this is easy. I admire you for doing this if you do. But all I am saying is the dog is a responsibility too – one that you chose to have. So let him be part of the pack. If you can’t, don’t dump him at the shelter. He will be put to sleep. Find him a good home, and keep him with you and happy until then. It does not take too much.
8. This dog is much too large and I can’t handle him anymore. Really? Did you not know what he was when you got him? No. I adopted him. Not an excuse. The shelter will give you some approximation of what the dog is, and usually a Chiuwawa will not grow into a Great Dane. Yes, 8-10 lbs might fluctuate either way but you know what range of size you are bringing home. Did you look at the paws when he was a puppy? That should give you a clue. So suck it up and treat it like the joy it really is. Further most larger dogs are calmer, less talkative and need less bathroom trips.
9. You will not believe I have actually heard this. “He poops too much”. Noone said to expect little silver pellets. Grow up. Get a bag and pick it up.
All they need is a little devotion, a little time, a little love and a little training. If you think you cannot financially, emotionally, or mentally provide this, do not get ahead of yourself and bite off more than you can chew.