Is that forever family your family? Are you considering a new and adopted doggie for your home? If so, you are among the four in ten (37%) Canadians who have adopted from an animal shelter in the past.
It is truly admirable that your family wants to make a difference in the lives of orphaned pets, as there are millions of homeless animals in Canada longing for a forever home. However, adopting a pet is a big decision to make, and I encourage you to consider a few things when adopting a puppy for your family.
You must be commended for your willingness to adopt a puppy, as statistics show that pet homelessness is an epidemic in North America. In Canada, however, pet adoption is still not top of mind for most Canadians, despite this growing need. A recent survey commissioned by Iams found that, while 95 per cent of Canadians who have adopted from shelters in the past were satisfied with their adoption experience, most Canadians do not plan to adopt an animal in the next year, with only 17 per cent of respondents claiming that they will consider adoption. The public often has misconceptions about shelter animals, and many are not aware that shelters offer adoptable dogs and cats of all ages, breeds, mixes and sizes. These animals end up at shelters for many reasons, including being lost or an owner moving, divorcing, going through a lifestyle change or developing allergies.
The Quinte Humane Society, whose part mission is "To promote the prevention of cruelty to animals that are neglected, abused, exploited, stray or homeless," is a registered charity that serves all of Prince Edward and Hastings County. They are a non-profit organization that is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, and who is always looking for help and support. This local, community based shelter provides a safe and caring place for sometimes as many as 3000 sick, abused, neglected and homeless animals each year. But again, adopting a pet can sometimes be a tremendous decision, filled with misconceptions. Therefore, many of these QHS animals are left orphaned.
However, this being said, and above and beyond these misconceptions, you must weigh the pros and cons of adopting a puppy and to make sure that you are making the best decision for your family, and for your adopted pet. So, what things are important to consider when planning on adoption?
First, you must do your research as to which dog breeds get along well with children. A few have become well-known as great dog breeds for kids, due to their typically friendly, tolerant personalities. However with any dog, when looking for one compatible with children, there are more important qualities to consider than just their breed. These include: individual temperament, past experiences, training level, activity level, and age of both the dog and child. Remember, it’s never safe to leave a dog unsupervised with toddlers or babies. When you get a new dog or puppy, a slow introduction with the assistance of a trainer is the safest route. That said, there are a few dog breeds that are well-known as great family dogs. For example: Poodles,Golden Retrievers and Labradors, and unseemingly, mixed breed or mutts (focusing on the individual and unique personality of a mixed breed) all have good reputations as family pets. Pure Breds, after all can sometimes displany undesirable behaviours that can be dangerous with children.
Keep in mind, though, that since every dog is an individual, even within the same breed, finding a dog or puppy to adopt that is good with YOUR children is a highly individualized search.
As well as considering the breed, the age of your dog is something else to keep in mind. If you plan to adopt a puppy, for example, you must understand that he/she will need training in many areas from housebreaking to homewrecking, to biting with razor sharp baby teeth! An young or adult dog may be better to adopt with young children, as they will tend to be more mature, have some training with people, and be less fragile (a puppy can get easily hurt if picked up by young children!)
And, just like every child is individual, so is every puppy or dog. If you have an active lifestyle, a more active personality in your canine will be appreciated. If your family is quiet, and enjoys the presence of a calmer pet (who doesn't need as much activity!), your family may prefer an adult dog whose calm demeanour will be recognized right from the start and carry on into your life with him/her.
Another concern some potential adopters may have is that a rescued pet may have an unknown history. But some shelters and many rescues will have pets in foster homes, often for many weeks to months before you meet them. Many rescues have pets in foster homes with children. This is a great way to know if the pet is more likely to be good with kids like are in their foster home! Even in a shelter, if you are an experienced pet owner and are able to have your kids interact with the pet in a play yard or meeting room, especially if you can have a professional trainer/behaviorist come with you for an expert opinion, you can get a good idea of how the pet interacts with your kids.
The size of your adopted pet may be important to your family as well. For example, perhaps you live in an apartment which has soze restrictions for pets, and require a small dog. Or, maybe you have oodles of space outdoors for running and playing, and would prefer a larger breed.
The last thing to consider is the idea of setting rules for your kids and your new pet. You should have a good idea, and you should make your children aware of the responsibilities that a pet brings to your family. It is a good idea to set schedules and responsibilites for each member of your family. For instance, there will have to be a special person who is responsible for feeding, walking, or play-time with your pet. Also, activity zones in your home must be set. This means that your new family pet needs a place to go to the bathroom, a place to sleep and a place to play. Once your kids have been assigned their tasks and understand the basic rules of dog care, they should be taught how to treat dogs with respect. Simply put, guidelines are set out to prevent biting from occurring, as well as how to tell when your pet is getting frustrated, and to eliminate the potential for harm to your child.
By setting the rules before you adopt a dog for kids, you can commit them to doing some of the work in caring for their pet, make your dog feel welcome in his new pack, and keep everyone safe.
If you need more information on pet adoption or in pet safety check out these sites: