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Choosing a Rescue Dog? Be Alert for Dogs With This Behavior

December 10th, 2018 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

It’s the big day.

You’re ready to adopt your rescue dog. (Yayyyyy!)

All you need to do is choose one.

You head into Castle Rock’s Buddy Center to meet your future dog.

As you work your way through the center, you find that nine out of 10 dogs come up to greet you.

But that tenth dog?

It stands off to the side, acting shy and aloof.

It’s natural to feel your heart melt

“That’s my dog. It’s meant to be!”

But the dog’s simple acting of standing off to the side could indicate a behavioral issue you should be aware of…

This behavior could mean the dog is fearful, which can show up later as fear aggression.

The downside of making an emotional adoption decision, rather than a logical one

At our veterinary clinic, we hold rescue dogs close to our heart.

Many of our vets and staff members have adopted rescue dogs.

We even offer a free first exam for rescue dogs within 14 days of adoption.

But as veterinarians, we also see what happens when people choose rescue dogs based on emotion, rather than logic.

We have clients who have fallen in love with specific rescue dogs… only to discover that their dogs have major behavioral issues.

These issues range from fear, to fear aggression, to resource guarding (aggressively protecting food or other treasures).

These clients have spent thousands of dollars on behaviorists… with limited success.

They can’t bring themselves to euthanize their dogs… but they also can’t have their grandchildren over to their homes anymore.

Their new dogs are a huge liability.

It’s all been life changing.

Before you fall in love with a specific dog, do your homework

Find out why the dog was surrendered AND ask for the dog’s medical history, if it’s available

The reasons that people have to surrender their dogs can vary widely.

It’s possible the dog was from a military family. The family had to leave their best friend behind when they got called to active duty.

More common, though, the reason is related to behavior.

As much as you want to help a rescue dog and make his (or her) life better, you could be adopting a dog with some deep challenges.

There may be other rescue dogs in the shelter that need your love — and they’re a better fit for your lifestyle.

Ask the shelter or rescue group if they’ve done a behavioral assessment: If yes, what did they learn?

A conscientious shelter or rescue group will likely perform a Shelter Dog Behavior Assessment on each dog.

This is a rigorous checklist of activities to see how a dog responds.

If a dog is showing any indications of fear or aggression, be sure you’re thinking through your decision carefully.

You won’t always get this type of information, though.

In these instances, you may want to take a behaviorist or a dog trainer with you to the shelter to do a pre-adoption exam.

These types of experts can help you figure out whether a dog’s fearfulness could be a sign of a deeper issue.

(We ask mechanics to evaluate cars before we buy them. Horses go through pre-purchase exams. This is the same idea!)

You also can find behavior checklists online.

Just be aware of your own limitations if this isn’t something you’re trained in.

The important thing is to understand what you’re getting into and how a dog with deep behavioral issues may affect your life.

Also, get your dog a wellness check within a few days of adoption

It’s the best way to make sure the dog you’re adopting is healthy.

At our veterinary clinic, we offer a free first exam for rescue pets within 14 days of adoption.

We’ll check for diseases, illnesses and common issues, so you can make a more informed adoption decision.

Related articles:

Get off to a great start with your new dog

Make sure your new dog is healthy! Get your dog a wellness check today.

Book your visit here 

Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.

This article is intended to provide general guidance on behavioral considerations when choosing a rescue dog. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, we welcome your call.)

© 2018, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

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