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Adopting a Shelter Dog


Adopting a Shelter Dog

If you are considering adopting a dog from a shelter here are some helpful tips for the journey you are about to take.

Before you go to the shelter be sure to think about what kind of dog will fit best with your family. Do you want an energetic dog that will be able to keep up with young children. Or maybe you would prefer a more laid back dog that will require less activity. Just be sure to think about this before you go to the shelter….sometimes once you are at a shelter and faced with all of the adorable dogs… it is difficult to think logically.
When picking which dog to adopt be aware that puppies are typically not the best choice. With puppies you can not evaluate what kind of temperament they will have once they are grown. Also it may be difficult or impossible to determine how large they will grow to be. The older a dog is the easier it will be to get a true evaluation of what kind of temperament the dog has. I adopted a shelter dog that was approximately seven months old and her personality did not change much since then.

Once you are at the shelter be sure to spend some time with the dog you consider adopting. Sit on the ground with the dog and pet them. Check how sensitive the dog is by gently pulling on their ears, and tail. Try to touch and hold the dogs paws. Lightly pinch the dog  on its belly or back. The goal is NOT TO HURT the dog ….you just want to see how the dog will react to this annoyance. If you have young children at home this test is especially important. You can be sure that young children will do things that may irritate the dog, and you want to be sure the dog can handle it.

Once you adopt a dog there are some things you can do to ease the transition from shelter to home. The very first thing you should do is to keep the dog on a leash when you first bring it to your home. While the dog is on a leash give it a tour of your house. Let the dog smell whatever it has interest in. This is the dogs chance to check out its new surroundings while also getting some clues as to what the rules of the house are. For example…if the dog tries to jump up on the furniture during the tour of the house this is a perfect time to tell the dog “NO” and guide them off the furniture with the leash. Once you give the dog a full tour you can take a seat and have the dog sit on the floor next to you. This is a time for the dog to calm down and relax. This is a very stressful time for a dog so try to be patient. Once you feel the dog is calm and relaxed you can take the leash off.

A visit to the vet is a must as soon as you've brought your dog home (right after bathing him/her of course). Some shelters in Korea have vets who donate their services, but it is still a good idea to arrange for a thorough physical for your new pet. Your dog may or may not have had all her/his required shots and may need some medical care, such as teeth scaling, spaying or neutering, hearworm, etc.

The key to house breaking your new dog is consistency. Each day you need to follow a strict schedule of taking the dog outside on leash so that it can go to the bathroom. Once you get to the area where you want the dog to relieve itself start to say a specific word over and over again. I tell my dog it is PARK time. Once the dog relieves itself in the correct area give the dog lots of praise and affection. If the dog  relieves itself at the wrong time or in the wrong area do not give the dog any praise or affection afterwards. Be sure to be consistent with the dogs bathroom schedule. Once the dog is trained you can relax the schedule a bit. These techniques will also work with training pads inside apartments. Just put your dog on leash and take them over to the training pad. The rest is the same.

Sometimes dogs will display destructive behavior once they are “stuck” in a house all day. Going from a shelter to a house is a big change and this causes a lot of stress for some dogs. When dogs are stressed they sometimes like to chew, dig, bark, and display many other types of destructive behaviors. A good way to help eliminate these behaviors is to make sure the dog is getting enough exercise. It is very important to take dogs on regular walks. If your dog is alone most of the day while you are at work, then try to take the dog for a walk before you leave for the day. This will tire the dog a bit and make it easier for the dog to relax, and sleep while you are gone. Also be sure to give the dog some chew toys like Nyla bones. Dogs can relieve stress and excess energy by chewing on bones or chew toys.

Cage or No cage?  Once you bring your dog home you may want to give the dog a cage to sleep in. A lot of shelter dogs are custom to spending time in a cage and may find some sense of security from a cage. You can place a blanket over the top of the cage to add some security for the dog. Just think of the cage like a “safe cave” or hiding place for the dog. When the dog feels the need to be alone it can go to its cage and not be bothered. My dog loves her cage…it  is covered with a blanket for sense of security, and lined with a soft blanket inside.  Cages may also be a good idea for when the dog is home alone until you know if the dog will be destructive or not. 

Questions not answered above:
 If you've adopted or are fostering a dog from one of the Korean shelters, and have questions regarding your new friend, please post them on the K4E Forum and we will do our best to find answers for you. Here's the link: http://www.korea4expats.com/forum-south-korea/pet-corner-b10.0/

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