Educational Resources

Welcoming a New Pet into Your Home

Bringing a new dog into your pack requires planning. Before you adopt a dog, you probably have at least food and treats, bowls for food and water, a dog bed, a leash and collar, and maybe some toys.
If you’ve been very conscientious, you’ve probably already arranged for the first vet appointment, and maybe you’ve even talked to the entire household to establish rules about the dog like who does the feeding and walking, where the dog is and isn’t allowed, and so on. Everybody is excited and happy as you drive home, and you all come bounding up the walk, throw open the front door and let the dog off-leash and inside…set rules from the beginning.
In order to have a well-balanced dog, we have to teach them the house rules, and set boundaries and limitations. The message you send your dog the moment they enter your home for the first time is critical, because it immediately establishes the ground rules in your dog’s mind. If you just let them run in the door, the message is, “Here! Everything is yours, and you can do whatever you want.” The process of bringing your new dog into the home for the first time should be very deliberate and specific. Here are eight essential steps:
  • 1. Remain Calm — You pick the dog up, everyone must remain calm. It can be tempting to greet the new family member with excitement, but this is not the time to do it. Accept the dog into your space, but do not give more than a minimum of attention or affection yet. You’re about to remove the dog from a place that’s become familiar and take her to somewhere entirely new.
  • 2. Take a Long Walk — When you get home, keep your dog on the leash, because you’re now going to go on a long walk through her new neighborhood. This serves two purposes: It will help drain her excess energy and bring her to a calm state, and it will get her used to the new smells, sights, and sounds.
  • 3. Introduce Your Home — After the walk, keep your dog on the leash for a proper introduction to the new pack den—your house, apartment, condo, etc. Bring the dog to the front door, but do not let her enter first. If you can, get her to sit or lie down as you open the door. Then, you enter first, not allowing her to follow until you invite her in.
  • 4. Take the Tour — Once inside, keep your dog on the leash and lead her from room to room. Do not let her sniff or wander around. Use the leash to keep her at your side. Spend a few minutes in each room before moving on to the next, and make sure each time you go first into the next room. Every door is an opportunity to establish your leadership, you go first, the dog waits your invitation to enter or exit.
  • 5. No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact — During the tour, don’t speak and use only body language or simple sounds, like “Tsch!” or a finger snap, to communicate or correct. Your dog is overwhelmed right now, so the less stimulation, the better. This will help keep her focused on you.
  • 6. The Feeding Area — Once you’ve completed the tour, bring the dog to the place where the food and water will be and offer a reward with some water and a few bits of food, but not a whole bowl yet; your dog is still on her leash, remember?
  • 7. The Dog’s Bedroom — Likewise, if you have a special place you’d like the dog to stay when she needs to be out of the way of household activities, take her there. This is where you can finally let her off-leash. That place can be where her bed is, or a spot in the corner of the living room where you want her to lie, or her crate. By letting her off the leash here, you are telling her, “This is yours.” Don’t be surprised if she immediately decides to settle down and ignore the family for a while.
  • 8. Exude Calm – Assertive Energy — Once you’ve completed the above process, establish yourself as the Pack Leader by going through the rest of your day exuding calm-assertive energy. Everyone in the household should ignore the dog. You can acknowledge the dog if she joins you, of course, but don’t go overboard with affection yet. Just as you’re still getting used to her in the house, she’s getting used to being in her new house. You’ve gone a long way already toward teaching her that this is your territory and you make the rules. Now, she’s going to observe so she can figure out what the rules are, and who’s who in her new pack. If you’ve gone through these eight steps, you will have claimed your territory, allowed your dog into it, and established who the Pack Leaders are. Stay calm and assertive!

Why Spay / Sterilization or Neuter / Castration is the Right Thing to Do For Your Pets

The choice to spay or neuter your pet may be one of the most important decisions you make impacting their long-term health—and your wallet!
Your pet’s health and longevity — The average lifespan of spayed and neutered cats and dogs is demonstrably longer than the lifespan of those not. A University of Georgia study, based on the medical records of more than 70,000 animal patients, found that the life expectancy of neutered male dogs was 13.8% longer and that of spayed female dogs was 26.3% longer. The average age of death of intact dogs was 7.9 years versus a significantly older 9.4 years for altered dogs.
Another study, conducted by Banfield Pet Hospitals on a database of 2.2 million dogs and 460,000 cats reflected similar findings, concluding that neutered male dogs lived 18% longer and spayed female dogs lived 23% longer. Spayed female cats in the study lived 39% longer and neutered male cats lived 62% longer. The reduced lifespan of unaltered pets can, in part, be attributed to an increased urge to roam. Such roaming can expose them to fights with other animals, resulting in injuries and infections, trauma from vehicle strikes and other accidental mishaps.
A contributor to the increased longevity of altered pets is their reduced risk of certain types of cancers. Intact female cats and dogs have a greater chance of developing pyometra (a potentially fatal uterine infection) and uterine, mammary gland and other cancers of the reproductive system. Neutering male pets eliminates their risk of testicular cancer and eliminates the possibility of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia which can affect the ability to defecate.
A handful of studies may appear to challenge the health benefits of widespread spaying/neutering of companion pets by raising concerns that these surgeries may predispose some altered dogs to certain orthopedic conditions and cancers. As a result, they have caused some pet owners to question altering their pets at an early age or altering them at all. However, on closer examination, the results of these studies pertain specifically to male dogs of certain giant breeds (dogs typically weighing 90-100 pounds or more) and their conclusions should not be generalized to other breeds of dogs, or to other species, including cats.
Studies on this subject are mostly retrospective in nature, meaning they are looking at existing research data. Therefore, while they evaluate for associations between a cause and an outcome, they cannot definitely establish causality. It’s also important to understand that while a study can find something to be statistically significant, it does not always mean there is a clinically significant difference. While all study designs have benefits and challenges, there is a need for repeatable prospective studies (new research) done by a variety of researchers in various geographic locations and with significant sample sizes to provide stronger data in all aspects of this subject.
Weight gain after spay/neuter can occur in both dogs and cats because of decreased metabolism and maturation. It is important to monitor a pet’s weight following surgery and adjust their diet appropriately with the help of a veterinarian to prevent weight gain.
These are the best general recommendations that can be drawn from a thorough analysis of research currently available:
  • Owned cats should be altered before they are 5 months old as they can become pregnant at 4 months of age and older.
  • Owned female dogs should be spayed before they are 5 months old.
  • Owned small, medium and large breed male dogs should be neutered before they are 5 months old.
  • Owned giant breed male dogs who are house pets should be neutered after growth stops, between 12 to 15 months of age due to orthopedic concerns.
  • Owned giant breed male dogs who roam freely should be neutered before they are 5 months old due to the population concerns of unintended breeding.
  • Shelter animals should be altered prior to adoption—ideally, as early as 6 weeks old; however, some states may require waiting until the animals are 8 weeks old.
  • Community cats should be altered via TNR (trap-neuter-return) at any age after 6 weeks old, although, again, some states may require waiting until the kittens are at least 8 weeks old.
Resources from HSUS.

Critical Importance of Deworming & Giving Flea Medication to YOUR Pet

To have a dog is a privilege. A privilege that can greatly improves one’s quality of life. Your dog can be the reason to drag yourself out of bed in the morning and get outside. He or she can be the reason to hurry home after work or after you run your errands. After all, you have someone waiting for you, someone depending on you. There really is nothing like having a friend in your life who loves you unconditionally. A partner in crime so to speak, with whom you can share your daily life experiences without comment or complaint.
Once you have your new friend at home with you, it is very important to get to the vet right away (don’t worry, veterinary assistance is affordable). Make sure that you double up on Flea and Tick medications, like Frontline and Advantage or an injectable with a Flea and Tick collar. Ehrlichia, a Tick born disease, is the number one killer (illness wise) of dogs in Costa Rica. A vet told me once that it usually takes around 48 hours for Ticks to transmit diseases like Lyme and Ehrlichia. So, give your dog a nightly once over to remove any of the pesky bugs. Even tripled up on Tick meds, my dog still picked up Ticks (especially in the rainy season), so this is very important.
If you have a puppy that is too young to handle the pesticides in Flea and Tick medications, consult your vet about a puppy Flea and Tick collar and check the puppy often. Removing Ticks may seem gross at first, but in Costa Rica it is a responsibility that you have to keep a dog healthy. Plus, grooming your new friend and spending time inspecting his or her body in this way will create a unique bonding experience. Flea and tick preventatives do need to be applied year-round. There are some natural repellants, but you must research what is best, for example some natural ingredients will harm your pet and make things worse. Coconut oil will immediately kill fleas, but this is a quick fix and they will come back soon (coconut oil can be used to fight off bacteria and some fungus from a dog’s skin, but again a quick fix). Baby oil though is a VERY dangerous, DON’T use it!
Treating your pet with flea and worm treatment gets rid of fleas and worms and ensures that they stay protected in the long run. The importance is to effectively kill and disrupt their life cycle, ending their spread and control of your pet. The life cycle of roundworms can be complicated, but we know that they can also infect humans, and transmission is not depending on direct contact with feces or the animal carrying the parasites. Especially young children and immunocompromised people are at risk. Therefore, it is advisable to deworm dogs regularly. Remember that prevention is much easier and cost effective than cure.
If the worms are not removed they can multiply and lay eggs in the intestine, leading to major damage to the body. Some of these intestinal parasites can even be fatal and hence should not be ignored. Parasitic worms can also lead to malnourishment.
Staying current on all internal parasite medication is also important. Many different types of intestinal Parasites as well as Heart Worms are common place in sub-tropic and tropical environments. Parasite pills only cost around $4 per month and it is $4 very well spent. Compared to North America, vet care for is extremely cheap in Costa Rica. If there is ever an emergency, don’t hesitate to take your dog in to the local vet. Surgeries and treatments that would cost thousands of dollars in the United States only cost a few hundred here in Costa Rica.
Flea bites can lead to: Allergy Dermatitis: just one flea bite can cause flea allergy dermatitis which results in a very itchy pet. This can lead to the breakdown of the skin barrier and secondary infections. Tapeworm: fleas can carry tapeworm eggs and if your pet has fleas and tries to bite the itchy area where the fleas are, they can end up swallowing the flea and then get worms. Depending on how sensitive your pet is, one flea bite can itch for minutes or, if your pet has a flea allergy, they will itch for days. Scratching can result in secondary infections which can also cause months of discomfort for your pet.
Tick bites can lead to: Ticks can transmit blood borne parasites and these cause conditions which are sometimes fatal, including: Babesiosis (otherwise known as tick bite fever): this can affect both cats and dogs. It breaks down the red blood cells and can be fatal. Ehrlichiosis (canine pancytopenia): this affects dogs. It causes problems with all blood cells and can be fatal. Mycoplasma (feline infectious anaemia): this affects cats. It causes the destruction of red blood cells and causes fever and a severe lack of appetite

Training & Behavioral Basics for your Pets

My (Samantha’s) dog, Winnie, has always barked at the door — be it for the mail carrier or her best friends. This was always a little annoying but manageable. Until we moved into a condo in D.C. with nine units. That’s nine doors, plus the front door, and Winnie was barking at all of them.I tried saying “UH UH” and pointing my finger angrily. She was unmoved. I tried giving her a treat every time she stopped barking. She still barked. I tried separating us by a door. I tried to never schedule another Zoom meeting ever again.
Then I tried calling a trainer. “Helping the dog feel comfortable in its skin, comfortable in the lifestyle that you have together — that is a really good basic goal that I would have for every dog out there,” says Kayla Fratt, a certified dog behavior consultant and owner of Journey Dog Training.No matter the case — whether you recently brought a puppy home from the breeder or have had your dog for years — all dogs can benefit from training throughout their lives. But where to begin the process? If you recently searched the internet for “dog trainers near me,” there’s a good chance you became immediately overwhelmed by the options, certifications and vocabulary. There is a lot of information out there! So we consulted some experts on where to start. Here’s what they say:There are (essentially) two levels of dog training. If you’re interested in skills training, or basic manners, such as teaching your dog to sit, stay and lie down, that’s the realm of a dog trainer. If your dog has a behavior problem — anxiety, aggressiveness, fearfulness — then what you need is a dog behavioral consultant, like Brianna Dick of Pack Leader Help. “The way that I approach dog training is behavioral psychology based,” says Dick, who is a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals. “We’re not looking at just the physical behaviors of dogs. We’re looking at their emotions and the relationship they have with their humans.” If you need both skills training and behavior training, start with the more complicated of the two: behavior training. A dog behavior consultant will also be well-versed in teaching your dog how to sit, but a dog trainer will be much less equipped to help your dog deal with separation anxiety.
Be realistic.  As Fratt says, “Just like not every human is going to learn to love going to raves, not every dog is going to learn to love going to the dog park.” Kim Brophey is an applied ethologist, a family dog mediator and the owner of The Dog Door Behavior Center. She also wrote a book titled “Meet Your Dog: The Game Changing Guide To Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior.” Brophey uses a framework called L.E.G.S (learning, environment, genetics, self) to explain dog behavior. Say, for example, your dog is barking at your guests. “That might be a breed of dog that was selected for hundreds of years to defend against people walking in your front door,” says Brophey. Since you can’t train away a German shepherd’s genetic impulse to defend its territory, you may need to change your expectations, instead.
Decide how you’d like to train your dog. — When it comes to training methods, you have a few options: group classes, one-on-one training, board and train, day training and self-led training, to name the most common. Group classes are cheaper but less personalized. Board and train facilities are more expensive and riskier, says Fratt. “If the trainer spends all this time training the dog in this really specific context and then basically just hands you the leash, takes your check and walks away, there’s a very good chance you’re not actually going to be able to implement those new strategies and skills … successfully in your home.” Your choice will depend on your budget and your training goals. For example, if your dog is acting aggressively towards another dog in your home, that’s probably not well-served by training that takes place outside of your home. Also know that you will have to be involved in training your dog, but it doesn’t have to take up a huge chunk of your day. Fratt says she spends about five minutes a day on training. A lot of the homework that trainers will give you can also be fun, and is easy to work into your everyday life.
Understand the methodologies. — Dog training is a completely unregulated field, meaning anyone with a website, Instagram page or storefront can claim to be a dog trainer. This also means that there is no definitive rule book for what methods to use when training a dog, and many trainers disagree. Many trainers, though, fall into two broad categories: The first is positive reinforcement trainers like Fratt. Positive reinforcement means giving your dog something good — like a treat — when they do something good, so they repeat the behavior. Or giving your dog something good so they associate something (they think is) scary with having a positive experience. The second is balanced trainers like Brianna Dick. Balanced trainers use positive reinforcement methods, but are also more willing to incorporate corrections, like e-collars, into their training. E-collar training involves “a collar that your dog wears, which you control via remote, that emits a stimulus to your dog’s neck — a shock, sound or, say, a citronella spray — whenever they need a correction,” Dick explains. E-collars are divisive in the dog training community, especially the ones which emit a shock. Dick says to be wary of any trainer who uses e-collars on every dog. “That is cookie cutter, and it’s never going to garner very good results,” she says. “You want someone who is getting to know you, your relationship, your lifestyle with your dog.”
Find a good trainer. — If what you need is a solid list of positive reinforcement trainers or balanced trainers in your area, a good place to start is with lists compiled by various professional associations. And then do interviews! Call former clients. See which trainer makes you feel most comfortable. Make sure they can explain their training methods.
Don’t rule out medication. — It can be scary to change your dog’s brain chemistry. But if your dog is experiencing fear, anxiety, panic or aggression, that can’t be treated by training alone. And you should treat it like the medical condition it is. “At the end of the day, this is a chemical imbalance. And it needs to be treated.” What if you’ve tried everything — from positive reinforcement training, balanced training, medication to switching trainers — and nothing has worked? Maybe your dog just can’t get over his fear of your children, or she is too scared to pee outside on a busy city street. At the end of the day, and this is not a fun topic to bring up, you may come to the conclusion that your home is not the best fit for your dog. “It’s hard, but I do think rehoming, if you have a great option for a dog … where all the conditions can be set up to provide for that dog, then it can be the best move,” says Brophey. It shouldn’t be shameful to consider rehoming. Sometimes it’s the most loving decision you could make. But we hope this isn’t the case for you! There are many things you can try to train your dog before you get to that point. As Fratt says, most dogs are imminently trainable: “It’s never really too late for a dog to learn, and it’s never really too late to bring the dog to a trainer.”

Grooming & Nail Trimming Tips

Nail trimming is an essential part of dog grooming, and trim nails are one clear sign of your dog’s good health and hygiene. Professional groomers will perform the task for squeamish owners, but dog nail trimming is a simple procedure if done correctly. Since nail trimming can be an anxiety-laden experience for many dogs, start handling your puppy’s feet and trimming their nails when they’re young, so they become accustomed to the process. Some dogs will sit in your lap or on a table while you clip their nails, while others may need some form of restraint. Luckily, you can make the process more fun for your dog by letting them lick peanut butteroff a silicone wall mat while you handle the nails.
Getting Your Dog Comfortable
In as little as one week, you can have one of those rare dogs who doesn’t mind nail trimming one bit. But, if it takes your pup a little longer to get used to it, don’t despair. Be patient, keep a gentle and positive attitude, and continue to offer praise and treats. Make sure to use safe, dog-friendly clippers or grinders. It helps if you frequently touch and hold your puppy’s paws (gently and cheerfully) right from the first day, so they won’t become sensitive to having their feet handled.
  • Day 1: Let your puppy sniff the nail clipper or grinder. Give a treat and praise.
  • Day 2: Touch the nail clipper or grinder lightly on each paw. Give a treat and praise.
  • Day 3: Touch the nail clipper to each paw and squeeze the clipper so the puppy hears the sound, or turn the grinder on and let the puppy feel the vibration. Don’t actually trim a nail. Give a treat and prai
  • Day 4: Touch the nail clipper or grinder to your puppy’s feet again. Give a treat and praise.
  • Day 5: Try trimming off just the very tiniest tip from one front paw nail. Only do one nail. Offer lots of happy praise and a treat if your puppy lets you. Even if he lets you, just do one. Repeat every day until he lets you do this and doesn’t seem to mind.
  • Day 6: Try trimming just the tip off of just two nail
  • Day 7: Keep working your way up, trimming additional nails each day, until you’ve got them all and your puppy doesn’t mind. Practice even when you don’t need to clip a nail. Even pretending you are clipping and going through the motions helps your dog get used to the whole process.
Trimming Your Dog’s Nails
There are several types of dog nail trimmers, including scissors, grinder tools specifically designed for dogs, and guillotine types. You can use whatever type you are most comfortable with, or whatever works best for your dog. It’s a good idea to have some styptic powder or other clotting powder on hand to stop bleeding in case you cut a nail too short. “If you’ve never clipped a dog’s nails before, you may want to have your veterinarian or vet tech give you a lesson on how to do it,” suggests Dr. Jerry Klein, AKC’s chief veterinary officer.
Here are the steps to follow to properly trim your dog’s nails:
  • 1. Pick up a paw and firmly, but gently, place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Make sure none of your dog’s fur is in the way.
  • 2. Push your thumb slightly up and backward on the pad, while pushing your forefinger forward. This extends the nail.
  • 3. Clip only the tip of the nail, straight across. Include the dewclaws, located on the inner side of the paw.
  • 4. Avoid clipping past the curve of the nail or you risk hitting what is called the quick (the pink area of the nail that contains the blood vessels). A nick there is painful and will bleed. For dogs with dark nails, watch for a chalky white ring.
How to Grind Your Dog’s Nails
  • Grind your dog’s nails using a safe tool.
  • Only grind a small part of your dog’s nail at a time. Support the dog’s toe firmly but gently.
  • Grind across the bottom of the nail and then carefully in from the tip of the nail, smoothing rough edges.
  • For better control, hold the grinder higher up, towards the top.
  • Keep your dogs comfortable and take note of any sensitivities
  • If your dog has long hair, make sure to keep it back from the grinding tool so it doesn’t get caught.
Failing to Cut Your Dogs Nails
Regular nail maintenance is more than cosmetic. Unhealthy nails can cause pain, and in rare instances, trigger irreversible damage to the dog. A dog’s nail consists of the living pink quick and the hard outer material called the shell. The quick supplies blood to the nail and runs through the core of it. Nerves in the quick cause bleeding and discomfort when cut. Regular nail trimming will cause the quick to recede from the end. Short quicks are the preferred length for the dog’s well-being and easy maintenance. Long nails can turn a sound paw into a splayed foot and reduce traction, and they can cause deformed feet and injure the tendons over an extended period. As the long nail hits the ground, the pressure puts force on the foot and leg structure. Some dogs wear their nails down and won’t need to have them clipped as often.

Tips on Rehoming Your Pet

  • 1. Is it wrong to be selective when rehoming a dog? — No, and Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a Veterinary Behavior Specialist from Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University says, “Choosing a canine companion based on individual behavior and lifestyle compatibility is crucial to the success of the relationships between people and their dogs.”
  • 2. I’ve exhausted all my options trying to keep my dog, what do I do?
    • Contact breed rescue groups: Discover numerous rescue groups that, by and large, specifically help your dog’s breed.
    • Rehome the dog yourself: Speak with friends and family and in brief, advertise your intentions.
    • Post Dog Rehoming Ads:  Hang posters on local bulletin boards and on balance, post on social media.
    • Make an internet profile: Ultimately, highlight your dog’s best features and behavioral qualities accordingly online.
  • 3. How do I work with my local animal shelter or rescue group? — Generally speaking, surrender your dog to an animal shelter or a rescue organization.
  • 4. How would you describe your dog’s optimal environment and home? — To summarize, what kind of situation is best in its next home? In any event, is he okay with kids and other pets? On the whole, consider what type of people would suit his personality and energy. All things considered, create an idea of what your pet needs in its next home.
  • 5. What would it take to get your dog to put his best foot forward towards a forever home? — Generally speaking, make sure the pet has recently had a wellness exam. Are his vaccinations are up-to-date? Now, create a pet profile online and describe the dog’s more exceptional qualities and its history. Doing so has more of a likelihood that the pet will make an impact online. All this ultimately helps adopters best understand your pet’s needs.
  • 6. Are you able to be patient through the process? — Straightaway, pet rehoming takes patience. Although, you may be in a rush in rehoming your dog. On the whole, finding a good fit for your dog does take time, love, and patience.
Avoid Stress: In a word, advise the new family to avoid anything stressful as long as the dog settles. The Dog May Not Eat: Tell them not to worry if the dog won’t eat on the first day. Nonetheless, he’ll eat when he’s ready. Assure New Owners: Acclimating takes patience, during which, there may be an accident. Keep in touch: Tell the new owners to call you from time to time with any questions or problems.
Pet Rehoming – Adoptive Family Questions That May Be Asked –
Or YOU Should Ask – Make a great match for both your dog and his future adoptive family. With this in mind, share any health concerns, without delays, such as medications, allergies, and diet. Also, discuss his energy, unique behaviors, and personal tendencies so there are no surprises.
  • Have you ever had another pet? What happened to it? The best answer is “Yes; It died at age 17.” What you really don’t want to hear is that their last pet was hit by a car, died of preventable disease, ran away, or worse… was turned into a shelter
  • Do you have a pet now?
    • Already having a pet is good. It demonstrates that they already know what is involved in pet ownership.
  • If yes, then how long have you had it? In general… the longer, the better.
  • What size is your current pet? The best answer is a size that is close to the one they are trying to adopt.
  • If a cat, has your cat been tested for FIV (feline AIDS) or FILV (feline Leukemia)? If either cat is positive for one of these diseases placing them together is disastrous. If a rescued cat is FIV or FILV positive, place it with another known cat with the same disease.
  • If you have another dog/cat, is it altered? Will you be (spaying/neutering) the cat/dog when it reaches sexual maturity?
  • The good answer is yes: spay/neuter prevents unwanted pet births, decreasing the euthanasia happening in shelters because of too many companion animals and not enough companion homes. Also, spay/neuter prevents cancer and decreases the likelihood that a pet will run away from home or get into fights.
  • Do you own your home or rent? Do you have a fenced yard?
  • Ask to see a copy of their lease allowing pets if they rent. Or ask to use their landlord as a reference. Fenced yards are best, but aren’t always possible. In some parts of the country, they aren’t always necessary (very rural farmland). Make sure the potential adopter is interested in exercising their new pet. Some dogs should get up to three or four miles of exercise a day. “My apartment doesn’t allow pets” is one of the top three reasons that pets are taken to shelters.
  • Will you provide references?
  • Many organizations require three, one being a veterinarian. Sometimes they find the person had no record at the vet, a family member remarks about how much the potential adopter loves to travel abroad each month, or perhaps what really happened to their last pet. Although these situations are not the norm–with the time, money, and energy you are investing in this pet–be sure! You aren’t interested in an adopter who will not provide veterinary care for this pet.
  • Will the pet be a member of your family or a gift for someone else?
  • It is important that everyone who will be living with the pet meet it first. This minimizes the chances of the pet being returned to you, winding up at a shelter, or being abused or neglected.
  • Are you willing to allow a home check?
  • Some rescue groups always do a home check. This verifies the individual has given you a real address. You might consider taking your pet, to see his/her reaction to the home and the people. If one of the family members never gets off the couch or turns the TV down to meet you and your pet, it is probably not going to be the best home. Some organizations also go back to the home one week after adoption. This gives them an opportunity to see that the pet is happy. It also gives the adopter a chance to return the pet if there is a problem. NEVER DO A HOME CHECK ALONE! REMEMBER THE BUDDY SYSTEM!
  • Do you plan on crating the dog? For how long each day?
  • Some people feel that crating is a good way to introduce a pet to its new routine and to avoid accidents due to confusion and perhaps depression. On the other hand, 12 hours a day alone in a crate would signal a neglectful situation. Use your judgment here.
  • If the pet has an accident in the house, what type of correction do you plan to use?
  • Rubbing their nose in it and screaming “bad pet” is no longer accepted as an effective correction. Many training methods exist. An answer you’d like to hear is one that suggests patience, consistency, and perhaps even a hint that they’ve read a book (or would like to) about training. It is NEVER EVER appropriate to hit, spank, slap, poke, kick, or humiliate a pet that has had an accident. Many dogs in shelters exhibit urination shyness (they roll over and act submissive every time they urinate). This psychological damage is a result of stupidity on the part of an abusive owner who didn’t know how to housebreak a pet.
  • How many hours per day will the pet be alone?
  • Think twice before you adopt a young puppy or kitten to a home where they will be alone for more than four hours a day. New owners should be willing to adopt on a weekend or on vacation time to allow the youngster to adjust to new conditions. Older dogs and cats can withstand being alone for a normal working day. Eight to 10 hours is possible but should be followed by good exercise/playtime, which is difficult for people that have themselves worked a 10 hour day.
  • Do you have children? How old are they? Have they ever been around pets?
  • Children should not be expected to be responsible for the pet. If that is suggested, think red alert! Very young kids may be hurt by or may hurt the new pet. This is a personal issue, based mostly on the type of family you are talking to. Tread carefully, here. Some organizations have a strict policy regarding adoptions to families with children under five. Others judge on a one-on-one basis. This is where your people skills come in. Make sure you meet the kids!
  • Will the pet be going outside at all?
  • Cats that go outside have a significantly reduced expected life-span, get hit by cars, poisoned intentionally, poisoned unintentionally, get feline aids for which there is no vaccine, get feline leukemia for which the vaccine is only 70% effective, get into fights, get fleas, get lost, etc. You want to hear that this will be an indoor cat (unless you are placing a vaccinated wild cat on a farm or in a rural area). Outdoor/indoor is okay for dogs, but remember, dogs are pack animals and want to be where you are. Leaving a dog outside when the rest of his family is inside may be a lonely experience for the dog.
  • Will you be declawing the cat?
  • Declawed cats are more likely to become biters and/or forget litter box training. Many people are very opposed to declawing (or see it as a last resort) because of the gruesome nature of the surgery. We are absolutely against declawing it is VERY cruel and painful.
  • Do you realize that cats can live for more than 20 years? Do you realize that dogs can live for more than 15 years? This is a lifetime commitment.
Discuss a rehoming fee and determine whether they want to consider a trial period with your dog. At this time, discuss the worst-case scenario. For instance, if the arrangement doesn’t work out. For this reason, discuss the expectations for post-adoption communication. In conclusion, there are a lot of resources when it comes to helping a pet parent keep a dog as well as when you’re ready to explore rehoming a dog. When you cannot keep your dog, then take steps to safely and responsibly rehome a pet. In the meantime, if you’d like to read more about adjusting to life with your new dog to make your adoption last, review Home Forever Home on Petfinder for helpful tips and information.
Resources from PetFinder