Deciding to adopt a dog from the kennel is a noble and important gesture of civilization, but it brings with it not only joys, but many responsibilities. The choice must be made thoughtfully and after proper reflection, and precisely for this reason we have decided to draw up this brief adoption guide to help all those who would like to make this magnificent gesture, but are blocked by many doubts.
Very often then, this noble gesture is followed by a rapid change of ideas and the dog finds himself locked in a cage again after barely having time to adapt to his new home. To prevent this from happening, all you need to do before adoption is to find out about any problems your dog may have with adapting to living in a kennel.
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What Are Kennels, Shelters and Breeds?
A kennel is a facility or shelter for dogs, where they are housed, maintained and bred. Most of the dogs that are found there are lost or abandoned animals and are cared for while waiting to return home or to be adopted. The shelters are specialized centres dedicated to stray dogs, while the breeders are establishments where dogs with pedigree are specially bred and are managed by experienced breeders. Many kennels and shelters, on the other hand, are often run by voluntary associations.
Why Choose to Adopt a Dog?
The choice to adopt a dog is an important decision if we want to share our life with a four-legged friend. With adoption we commit ourselves for life. However, this is an overwhelming experience and certainly a noble gesture, which demonstrates your ethics in deciding not to buy a life, but to offer a better life to a more unfortunate dog.
Adopting a dog also means finding a faithful, loyal and noble companion. For this reason, the dog’s age should not take on too much importance: many only look for puppies, even an older or mature dog has many advantages. He will assimilate your teachings more quickly, you already know his temperament and also his final stature, he will adapt very easily and will be forever grateful to you.
Special police forces and blind people’s organisations, on the other hand, prefer a dog between the first and three years of life, to ensure better training and that the dog learns in a correct and error-free form, to safeguard the humans to whom they render invaluable service.
Before adopting a puppy or an adult dog, it is important to understand a few things. First of all, that the dog is not a “Christmas present”, but that you and your family are really ready to welcome a new member into your home and take responsibility. Consider, for example, the age of the dog you would like to take: puppies are the most popular, but adult dogs are easier to manage and quieter. If you know you don’t have much time or energy to spare, look for an adult dog and avoid the puppy. It is also important to know what size dog can find sufficient space in your home and whether or not you have a garden: a large dog is not suitable for a small city apartment.
Do you already have other animals in the house? Are there children or elderly people with special needs? Who will Fido take for a walk? Who will wash him or feed him? These and other questions will help you understand if you will be able to keep the choice you are about to make.
How Does Adopting a Dog Work?
There are generally two possible solutions: free fostering of the animal and long-distance adoption. Each body or association then manages these types of adoption according to their own regulations.
- The first step is to go to a kennel, where you will be asked to fill out a few adoption application forms. This is necessary for the operators and volunteers to understand what kind of human being you are, what your needs are and therefore to be able to identify the dog that physically and characterfully fits you, your family, your home.
- Then the operator will take you for a walk through the fences, to show you the dogs and tell you their stories better. Not every dog you meet in a kennel has suffered trauma and they are normal dogs with a stable temperament.
- During the tour you will have the opportunity to ask the volunteer to open a cage and let the dog out to give you both the opportunity to get to know each other better and maybe play a little bit together.
- Once you have decided which animal you wish to welcome in your home and family, it is advisable to meet it several times at the kennel, before taking it home for good. These meetings could last from 2 to 4 weeks, but they are fundamental because it is during these meetings that you will have the opportunity to create a relationship of knowledge and trust between you and the new member of your family. If you have children, it is good to have the children or other four-legged friends who already live with you participate as well.
- Before the adoption is made official, the kennel staff may offer you a pre-relief period to test your new cohabitation and see if you are suitable for adoption. The first few weeks are very difficult and delicate, but with a little patience, you will both be able to get through this.
- At the end of the trial period, you sign the adoption papers and receive Fido’s health booklet.
Long Distance Adoption
If you are not sure and still have many doubts, you could opt for long-distance adoption: you will ensure a better life for your dog, and you will always have the chance to visit Fido and play with him at the kennel. An ideal solution if you don’t have room at home or if someone in the family is against the idea of adopting a new dog.
Become a Volunteer
Alternatively, join the group of volunteers! In this way you will not only provide a huge service to many lonely and abandoned dogs, but you will also help the volunteers, who too often are not enough to maintain the care and welfare of all animals. The contact with the animals will teach you to develop a new sensibility and you will gain a lot of experience, useful if one day you finally have the possibility and the means to adopt a four-legged friend (or more than one). You will then learn to really take care of the dogs, to wash them, to maintain the hygiene of their cages, to prepare food for them and you will have the opportunity to experience first hand the work of the volunteer at the kennel and if you want you can also take part in other awareness-raising activities organized by the body that manages the kennel in question. You will have many new friends (both two and four-legged) and be part of a unique community.
How to Behave During the First Weeks
The first days of the new cohabitation can be difficult and without adequate preparation very often the new owners decide to take the dog back to the kennel. To prevent the poor four-legged friend from being brought back to the cage, it only takes a little patience and you must first understand that the habits the dog has acquired by living in a cage can be changed. In fact, life in a kennel is not like life at home.
- One of the main reasons why dogs are returned to the kennel is because they get too dirty at home. In the kennel the dog’s life is marked by a few events: the feeding, the cleaning of the cage with the water pipe and if the volunteers have time, a walk and some games. In most cases the dog does not have the possibility to go out several times a day and does not have a litter tray, so he will be forced to do his needs in the cage. To solve this problem you just need a little patience, be ready to clean up if necessary, take your dog out several times a day and train him to use a specific part of the garden.
- Another reason that makes the new owners impatient is the fact that the dog does not respond to calls. Also for this reason it is necessary to arm oneself with patience and gradually build a relationship of trust with Fido. The dog may have been mistreated by its old owner, by strangers on the street, or even, in the worst cases, by the kennel staff. Not being able to know it, it is good to make the dog understand that you do not have bad intentions, but you must give the dog time to understand whether to trust you. If you let him free, prefer fenced and unopened areas so that he doesn’t run away and when you call him and he arrives, give him some nibbles or caresses.
- The dog may be aggressive with other people or other dogs. In most cases this is due to the dog’s fear of losing his home, family, or affection. A further reason may be that the dog has become accustomed to having to live with many other dogs and the fight for food was the only way to survive. Once Fido has achieved good security, he should calm down. Until then, make him feel calm and avoid situations that would make him anxious and agitated. If the problem continues, seek advice from the kennel staff or an expert.
- Another problem is that the dog never leaves you alone. At night, for example, you may hear him howling and calling you. No problem, even puppies, who have never been abandoned or experienced any trauma, do this too! Be constant and let the dog get used to his new home and start to feel safe. To help him, you can arrange short, planned absences. In this way your dog will get used to your absences, leave you alone for a few moments and will no longer be afraid to be without you in the house or garden.
- Finally, there may be problems with food. The dog coming from the kennel may not eat at all or may venture into the bowl. Get your dog used to it at specific times day after day: fill the bowl and leave it in front of him, move away and after 20/30 minutes remove it. If your dog eats too little, you can do so 4 times a day. The dog will gradually get used to it. Let him eat after you and don’t give him any bites off the table.
In general, what you need to do is create a daily routine, day after day, so that both you and your dog get used to each other’s presence and establish a good relationship. Your four-legged friend will feel safe and loved, and you will avoid unpleasant situations due to the transfer, including kennel syndrome.
What to do with a puppy?
If you’ve decided to bring a puppy home, you’d better be careful about a few important things. The essential thing is to be wary of anyone who wants to give you a puppy that is less than 60 days old. This is because the first months of a puppy’s life are essential to learn how to live, to learn the language of dogs, to understand how to relate to his fellow dogs, and to distinguish moments of play from moments of danger. The relationship with the mother and siblings is very important in the first period of a puppy’s life and offers indispensable and irreplaceable experiences and teachings that a human master cannot guarantee.
After at least two months, you can take your puppy home, but be prepared to continue the work started by his mother.
- Don’t take your puppy away from your bedroom at night, but let him stay with you at first and gradually leave him alone for longer and longer to make your puppy more confident.
- Pay attention to his diet, taking into account not only his mental wellbeing, but also his physical wellbeing and the size he will take on when he grows up.
- Your puppy needs to experience as much as possible and learn to relate to other dogs, other people and different environments, while respecting his time and reactions (if your puppy becomes agitated and intimidated, stop and try again). A puppy that receives a lot of stimulation will be friendly, open and curious.
- Another very important aspect is that rules are imposed from the start and that they should always be followed. This way, your puppy will understand that he is part of the pack and will not disobey them in the future. If, for example, you let your puppy jump and sleep on the sofa, you’ll need to be consistent and let him do so even when he has reached maturity and increased in size and weight!
- Your puppy will get dirty in the house and you’ll have to resign yourself to it. A puppy, like a few months old, is not in full control of his body.
These are general indications because each case and each dog is unique and different from the others. However, these tips are of the utmost importance and vital to establish the most correct and peaceful relationship possible between you and Fido. If you have any doubts at the beginning of cohabitation or later, do not hesitate to ask an expert for advice!