My Dog Ate My Shoes! – Part I

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people complain or post on Facebook how their beloved family dog ate their shoes, couch, children’s toys, etc. People are always amazed that their darling pets could be so destructive when they leave the house. The dogs are, after all, supposed to be defending the house not tearing it to pieces.
I encounter this so often that what I planned to be a single post turned into three. Many times, it becomes such a problem that the owners end up rehoming the dog, which despite good intentions often goes terribly wrong.  Many people don’t realize that their untrained house pet will be euthanized at the county shelter or that the lovely wife and children they interview are actually picking up bait dogs for their dog fighting husband/father.
So…  Why does this happen?  Why do people end up getting rid of the dog they dreamed of having and just couldn’t wait to get home?
99% of the time people make an emotional decision when selecting a dog. Even with all my knowledge, I’ve done it myself. The heart should be involved, but the head needs to be involved too.  Not every breed works with every family, and sometimes a family is better off adopting an older dog rather than getting that adorable puppy in the Walmart parking lot.
I recently helped out in rehoming a young Shepard mix. His owner was an experienced dog owner, but she was in an unusual situation. Her family was dealing with cancer and a recent death in the family. They didn’t have the time or the energy for a high energy breed or for a young dog. They would have had a much easier time adopting a senior dog that didn’t need nearly as much exercise or training and would be happy snuggling on the couch.
I very often see people often choosing a Jack Russell Terrier for apartment living because of the breed’s size, but the breed is a high energy breed with high prey drive. They don’t do well when left alone, and they don’t do well without significant exercise and training. Truthfully, Great Danes fair much better with apartment living than any of the terrier breeds do.
It is really important to do your research to find out what breeds are best suited to your lifestyle. It’s just as important to think through whether your lifestyle is suited to raising a puppy or better suited to adopting an adult dog.

Take my dog Bear. He was just a year old when we adopted him, so we will still have him for much of his life, but he was already house broken and sleeping through the night when we adopted him. Rather than 2-3 months of midnight bathroom brakes and puppy training, Bear only took two or three days to settle into our routine. He was also quite comfortable spending time in a crate next to our other dogs while we were at work. We did do extensive obedience training to get him registered as a therapy pet, but the initial training for basic obedience didn’t require much effort.
Tank, on the other hand, was adopted as a six-week-old puppy, but we were in a very different place. My husband was retired and could loose sleep at night and catch up on sleep in the morning. He was also home all day. We had a fenced in backyard and a dog door, so housebreaking was much easier. In fact, the only time Tank had an accident in the house was after dark when he was afraid to go out by himself. When Tank came into our lives, we were able to invest the time and energy into housebreaking and puppy training. We were also prepared for the strong personality of a livestock guardian breed.
It’s easy to fall in love with a puppy at a pet store or an adoption event, but remember that it’s a big commitment, and be sure to take the time to really think through that commitment. It isn’t the same as buying a dress. Rehoming an animal is traumatic at best, so be sure that you’re really making the best choice for your family.
Next week, we’ll talk about some things to consider after you bring your new furbaby home.

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