Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Adopting Dogs: Give Them Six Months to a Year to Adjust

I've got something on my mind that I need to put out here. First, a disclaimer. I have had dogs pretty much all my life with the exception of my time living in Arizona due to the extreme heat. I am not a trainer. I don't claim to know everything there is to know about dogs. I feel I only know a little, even after all these years of having dogs and many hours of training.
I learn something from every trainer I've ever been tutored by. When we first moved to eastern Washington, we waited a year before we adopted our first girl from the humane society. She had just dropped a litter of puppies and was looking really haggered but when I saw her looking up at me from the other side of the kennel, I knew she was to be mine. They told me she was between 4 and 5 years old. I didn't want a puppy.
 Our border collie is also an adoptee from the humane society and my youngest belonged to a housesitter who was moving and couldn't keep her. 
The point of this post is that each of them had major adjusting to do. It was in a class I took my first girl to that the wonderful trainer said to me ... "give her 6 months to a year, you will have a different dog".  She was so right.
When we brought the 2nd dog home (the border collie), she was also between 4 and 5 years old. The second day, there was a fight in our back yard and I was ready to take her back to the humane society. Luckily, our neighbors at the time encouraged us to give it a week. Give them time to adjust. I did.
Our 3rd addition has been the hardest. She has terrible separation anxiety, which as gotten better but I believe will never disappear completely. The first two years were hell! She cried like she had been stabbed in the heart every time we let her outside by herself. She hated the leash with a great passion, and she is the embodiment of why they call female dogs bitches. And, she is oh-so-sweet most of the time.
It has been a lot of work to keep these dogs. They each have quirks and mannerisms that need to be paid attention to. I cannot feed them together. I cannot leave toys laying around due to aggressive possessive behavior. There have been some hair flying, blood-letting fights (about twice a year) that have left me quite shaken. 
But hear this ... I did not give up on them.
If you are thinking of adopting a dog, let me tell you that it is a big decision and it requires follow through. You have to be willing to see past some of the behavior at the beginning. You have to give them a long time to adjust and trust. You have to take time to get to know their quirks.
The key to successful pet ownership, in my humble opinion, is time and training.
That's all.
love, susan


  1. I wish everyone thought as you do. We just had a sweet boy returned because the people - who seemed GREAT and EXPERIENCED and COMMITTED and ALL GOOD THINGS - felt he wasn't a good fit, because he wasn't really bonding with them. They brought him back on the third day. I suppose I could have tried harder to persuade them to try just a little longer ... but honestly, I just didn't feel they were worthy.

    1. People just don't know. I had never thought about it until the trainer said those words to me. A lightbulb went off in my mind. I'm going to be saying it out lout a lot more.

      This happened to a friend of mine who is fostering and the people had him overnight and had a list of reasons he had to go back. 24 hours?


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