We say this a lot, but we LOVE Adoption Day and so far we've celebrated 612 adoption in 2016. That feeling for finding the perfect match for a deserving pet and their new guardian can't be beat, and watching those wiggle butts head out the door chokes us up every time. We take our job pretty seriously when it comes to getting to know the pets in our care, and are proud to have an amazing animal care and enrichment program for all animals. Today, though, we're going to focus on our dogs.
Of the 612 adoptions we have celebrated, 352 have been dogs and we credit this success to our unique Dog Enrichment program. Led by our Shelter Director Dr. Shayda Ahkami and dog trainer Manuel Guerra, we create a personalized plan for each dog that includes, training, rehabilitation if needed, play groups and a dedicated volunteer team, all working together to really get to know each and every dog. By the time a dog meets their new family, we know all a lot about their quirks, cute habits, what they like and don't like, what kind of environment they will thrive in, and much more.
We strive to set our dogs up for success in their new home, but a successful adoption only begins at our shelter. Bringing a new dog into your home is serious business and you are begin to set the tone of your relationship the second you walk out our door. To ensure that your new dog has a successful transition from shelter to new home, our dog trainer, Manuel Guerra dispels some common myths about bringing home a new dog:
MYTH #1: A dog fresh out of the shelter needs to be allowed on the furniture in order to feel comfortable and welcome in the new home.
TRUTH: The last thing a rescue dog needs is access to many choices especially having to do with furniture. They need structure, guidance, and direction. What usually starts out as self-inviting on to the couch can eventually lead to pushy and undesirable behaviors such as jumping on people or guarding valuable resources like furniture, toys, or food. Getting onto the furniture should always be permission based so the dog is never confused as to who is the leader. A dog that waits for permission before access to resources tends to be better able to relax in a new environment.
MYTH #2: A dog coming from a stressful environment such as the shelter needs freedom and free reign to “get to know” her new home.
TRUTH: A dog needs boundaries and structure. Too much freedom can be overwhelming to new dogs. Dogs can easily get overwhelmed in a new environment, especially if they haven’t yet decided that you are clearly the leader. When you are clearly the leader, the dog can let his guard down and become at ease in the new environment. Inconsistent and unclear rules/boundaries can inadvertently encourage all sorts of undesirable behaviors.
MYTH #3: Lack of a regularly scheduled exercise routine.
ANSWER: A tired dog is a good dog. Regular exercise in combination with boundaries provides for great physical and mental stimulation. Consistent exercise encourages relaxation and when a dog can relax he is much easier to manage at home when enforcing boundaries.
MYTH #4: Allowing access to resources or possessions without having to work for it; otherwise known as spoiling with high value toys and treats with no rules about how to access them.
TRUTH: This is a sure way to encourage guarding or possessive behavior. A lot of new families feel that the quickest way to win a dog over is through giving the dog “stuff.” This includes free access to high value places such as the couch or the bed with no rules or having to work for access to those things. This can be especially challenging when a dog decides to defend those spaces or when the dog refuses to be moved from those spaces. A dog could decide to do this with people or other dogs. A dog should not have free access to furniture or be given high value items until it is clear that they will give it up without defensive behavior.
MYTH #5: Allowing a dog to invade personal space and giving a dog excessive affection as if it were a human child. We spoil a dog from the shelter because he must have had a bad life and he needs love and affection to flourish, Correct?
TRUTH: Dogs are not people. Some dogs will have the tendency to cling to a person, this can be adorable, but so many times it comes from a space of fear or insecurity. Humans very frequently give dogs mixed signals without even knowing it. For example when dogs are allowed to “cuddle” their new owner, invade personal space without earning it, and follow owners to the bathroom uninvited, then scold them when they are underfoot or when they invade house guests personal space encourages anxious behaviors. This is accidentally taking the first step towards the road to separation anxiety, or to guarding their human.
Every new dog needs structure, rules, boundaries, and limitations. By ignoring the new dog except to occasionally reward for being calm or quiet, they have the chance to observe and learn how a human-centered, dog friendly environment is operated. When a dog is “ignored” they can learn while remaining in a calm state and feel safe.
And remember, we are here to help. When you adopt a dog from the Palm Springs Animal Shelter we will share everything we know about your new pet. We'll give you advice and guidelines on creating a smooth transition from shelter to new home and if you need us, we are a phone call away.
Posted on 06/10/2016 at 08:58:00 AM