Deciding to adopt a rescue pet or shelter dog is an important decision. It can be tough to take into account everything you’ll need to be prepared for (both expected and unexpected), but the rewards of adopting a four-legged friend outweigh most concerns and fears many people have concerning adoption. Still not convinced?
See our top 10 reasons to adopt:
1. You’re Saving More Than One Life
It goes without saying that when you adopt a rescue pet, you’re saving a life—but you’re actually saving more than one. By adopting, you’re helping make space for another animal in need and helping to give them the opportunity to become beloved pets.
2. Unconditional Love! What Could Be Better?
Many people worry about connecting with a rescued dog, but shelter dogs have so much love to give—and they won’t ever stop giving it to you once you let them into your heart!
3. You’re Giving a Second Chance to a Deserving Animal
Beyond just helping an animal in need, you’re giving a rescue an opportunity to find their voice; to be themselves and get a second chance to become a dog beyond the walls of shelter or rescue. You truly give them the keys to start anew in a life where second chances can often be hard to come by.
4. You Get a Chance to Stay Active
Maybe you’re trying to live a more active lifestyle, or maybe you’re just looking for a new adventure. Either way, a new four-legged friend gives you a reason to get outdoors more and stretch your legs!
5. You Have Someone New to Shop For
It’s always fun to spoil your pets and bringing home a new furry family member gives you a reason to do just that. You can enjoy all the retail therapy you want while making sure your new rescue dog is living in the lap of luxury.
6. You’re Fighting Back Against Cruel Breeding
Puppies purchased at pet stores almost always come from cruel breeding facilities where dogs are confined to small, filthy spaces and receive little to no veterinary care. By adopting from your local shelter or rescue, you are giving back to your community instead of helping cruel breeders profit.
7. Destress and Unwind with Someone Who Will Never Judge You
Life is full of stresses, but your rescue dog is always there to listen. They won’t ever judge you or let you down. Taking some time to destress with your furry friends can help you unwind and keep you at peace.
8. Increase Your Social Interactions
Getting out there with your pet can also help you make new human friends, too! You can befriend other pet parents, or even meet someone special when you’re making the rounds at your local dog park or dog-friendly café.
9. You’ll Have a Lifelong BFF
What could be better than having a lifelong friend? In your time with your rescue dog, you’ll have a confidante, a pal and ultimately—a beloved family member. You’ll never feel lonely, and in return neither will your shelter dog.
10. Life Will Never Be Boring Again
One thing that’s for certain, is that life with a rescue dog brings big changes—in the best way! Say goodbye to predictable nights and your boring routine and say hello to a new lease on life. Your new pet will keep life exciting, fresh and full of love.
controlling Pulling on walks Author: By Monique Feyrecilde, BA, LVT, VTS (Behavior); Debra Horwitz, DVM, Diplomate ACVB & Gary Landsberg, DVM, Diplomate ACVB
WHY DO DOGS PULL ON A LEASH?
Dogs pull to get where they are going. Dogs want to engage with the environment, and humans, to a dog, can be slow. Wearing a leash and being tethered to a human is not a “natural” behavior for dogs.
Many dogs will naturally “lean in” when they feel pressure on their collars and strain forward. Loose leash walking is a complex skill and it requires patience, planning, and persistence.
How do I get started?
All dogs need plenty of social, mental, and physical stimulation every day. Regular leash walks may help with mental and social stimulation, but they rarely truly satisfy a dog’s need for physical exercise. Before teaching a dog loose leash walking, you should start by making sure the dog’s daily needs are being met.
Unstructured exploration and low-stress walks in a quiet location are an important part of wellness for most dogs. Here are a couple of items to consider before getting started:
What equipment does my dog need? Leashes
Choose a leash that is 6-10’ in length and feels good in your hands. It should be wide enough that even if the dog pulls, you will not have a friction burn on your hands, but narrow enough that it is comfortably light weight for the dog to wear. You will also want a long line – a leash that is 15 -50’ in length to use for unstructured safe exploration. Avoid the use of retractable leashes; these can result in serious friction burns to both people and animals.
If you choose a collar, use a plain, flat collar that is fitted so you can put 2-4 fingers between the collar and the dog’s neck. The collar should be snug enough that it can’t be slipped over the dog’s head. If your dog pulls very hard, pulls until they cough or have noisy breathing, or can physically unbalance or overpower you when they pull, a collar is not the right choice for this dog.
What about training collars?
Training collars, such as slip, choke, prong, or electronic collars, all rely on causing pain to stop a dog from pulling. When the leash is tight, the collar causes pain around the dog’s neck. When the leash is loose, the pain is stopped. If the collar is effective, the dog learns to keep the leash loose to avoid pain.
There are a few difficulties with these collars:
A well-fitted H-Style or Y-style harness can be a wonderful tool for many dogs. Harnesses should only be worn when the dog is on a leash. What to look for in a harness:
Head collars fit around the nose and ears of a dog, like a halter. Head collars can give added control, especially when a strong, powerful dog has a smaller or infirm handler. A head collar needs to be carefully selected and introduced. Dogs are not accustomed to wearing things on their faces! It takes time to positively condition a dog to accept a head collar, and they are not right for every dog. When using a head collar, a second leash should be connected to a harness or neck collar as a safety backup. The safety leash is helpful because if a dog lunges quickly and hits the end of the leash wearing only a head collar, the leash can pull the dog’s head sharply to the side placing unnecessary strain on the dog’s neck.
How do I get started and how do dogs learn?Dogs, like any animal, do what “works.” They will repeat behaviors which have a favorable or meaningful result. When we are working to change or improve a dog’s behavior, we need to consider what the behavior accomplishes from the dog’s point of view – and how we can modify that event so the dog’s behavior will change for the better.
Using the 'A-B-C' method to consider why the dog is walking a certain way is often helpful.
A = Antecedent. What happens immediately before the pulling?
B = Behavior. Pulling is the behavior in question, but it is probably accompanied by other behaviors, too!
C = Consequence. What happens during or immediately after the pulling? This is the “result” from the dog’s point of view.
Creating a training plan means identifying A, B, and C – and considering how A and C can be changed so B will change. Each training plan will be unique to the dog and the family, but most pulling can be prevented or reversed using a positive reinforcement based training approach.
Example: Pulling toward another dog.
Remember, your dog can only see the world through his own eyes. He is being held back, but can see something he wants. Straining in the direction of travel might be productive from the dog’s point of view. Let’s look at the A-B-C’s for pulling toward another dog.
A = Your dog sees another dog appear.
B = Your dog pulls on the leash.
C = You and the dog are moved closer to the other dog.
In this example from the dog’s perspective, pulling is an effective way to get closer to something he wants. Barking is one way dogs will ask for space, or try to move another person or animal away from their space.
Prevention: Foundation Skills
Start with a well-prepared dog and in a non-distracting environment such as inside the home or your yard. Have plenty of small delicious treats with you, and if your dog likes toys, bring your dog’s favorite toy along as well.
The A-B-C’s: Loose Leash
Clip on your dog’s leash and stand quietly. Wait for even the smallest second of slack in the leash. Tell your dog “Yes!” when the leash is slack and quickly deliver one or two wonderful treats either putting them in his mouth or dropping them on the ground near your foot. Encourage him to eat them with a happy excited voice as you point them out. Take 1-2 steps forward and repeat this process.
A = The dog is on-leash, you are present with treats.
B = The dog stays close enough to you that the leash is loose.
C = Wonderful treats and happy praise.
In the beginning, it can be helpful to use luring. Luring means encouraging the dog to follow a treat so they perform a certain skill. Hold several treats in a closed hand next to your leg at your dog’s nose level. Once your dog’s nose is attached to the treats like they are a magnet, deliver one treat every 2-3 seconds. Begin walking, just a few steps at a time, consistently delivering tiny treats as long as the dog stays near you and the leash remains loose.
A = Leash is on and a handful of treats is within easy following reach.
B = Following the treat hand with a loose leash.
C = Receiving a small treat!
Putting it On Cue
Have a word or phrase that means “Walk with me!” Common choices are “Let’s Go!” or “Let’s Walk” or “With Me!” said in a cheerful happy voice. Once you’re able to repeat the sequence of starting a nice loose leash walk for a few steps at a time, say the cue in a happy voice. The cue means rewards are available for the loose leash walking.
A = “Let’s Go” cue is heard, leash is on
B = Dog walks on a loose leash for a few steps (or further, as the dog’s skills become more advanced)
C = Forward progress in the environment with frequent delicious treats for staying near the owner.
What should I do if my dog pulls?A = Something interests the dog.
B = Leash gets tight
C = You stand still or take a few steps away from the thing that is interesting – then wait for any sign of loose leash and quickly reward as above.
If your dog can’t disengage from the distraction, move further away and try again.
If it goes well, it looks like:
A = Something interests the dog.
B = You both walk toward the point of interest; the leash stays loose.
C = Progress is made toward the point of interest, and small delicious treats are intermittently delivered as well!
Group classes for leash walking and life skills are a wonderful place to refine leash walking techniques. Attending a group class in a controlled environment allows a professional training coach to help you develop excellent timing and to modulate the number and type of distractions your dog learns to walk around while keeping the leash loose. It takes most dogs several months of regular practice to learn to walk on a loose leash. There are entire books, online courses, and 8-week or more in-person courses devoted just to learning leash walking!
How do I handle lunging and barking? For dogs who lunge to the end of their leash, bark and frantically try to chase or approach other animals, people, moving cars, bicycles, etc., additional help is needed. Talk to your veterinarian for a referral for a professional behavior consultant and trainer for individualized coaching.
Some dogs lunge or bark because they are afraid. Others are too excited and have trouble controlling themselves. Still others may have the urge to hunt or chase. Depending upon the severity of the behavior and the underlying motivation, the individual training plan needs to be tailored to the specific dog.