Tag Archives: Mostly Mutts Animal Rescue

Match Game – Adopting the Right Dog Part 1 – Knowing Your Family’s Needs

Recently a good friend of mine wanted to pull the plug and adopt a dog for the family. The twin boys have been asking for a dog as long as I could remember and Dad, my friend, was pretty enamored with the idea too!  Since he’s a writer, he tends to research everything so I was thrilled when they came to me to ask the best way to match up a dog to his family.

As an adoption counselor for Mostly Mutts Pet Adoption and Rescue in Kennesaw GA, I see a lot of families fall in love with a dog that just doesn’t suit their family based on how the dog looks or acts at an adoption event.  I gave Joel some questions to think about before he went to Mostly Mutts to look at available dogs.

  1. Puppy or Adult?
    1. A puppy is a mixed bag.  It is a lot of work and not always for the new dog owner but a family that has done a lot of research on bringing up a new dog and has the time and energy to devote to bringing up a new canine citizen of the world could have an awesome experience raising a puppy.
    2. An adult dog may already be house trained, may already be obedience trained and may already have moved out of his destructive phase!
  2. Adopt or Shop?
    1.  Your local shelter will have a plethora of choices.  My rescue pulls animals from local, county-run, kill shelters.  We have a huge number of foster families as well as space at the shelter for the dogs but when you have a dog that has been fostered, we can provide more detailed information on what training needs, health needs, or husbandry needs the dog has.
    2. If you are adamant about a specific breed, find a good breeder.  Visit the AKC site for that specific breed and find a breeder recognized by them.  Or, if you really would like to rescue, contact a breed-specific rescue organization.  There are lots of circumstances surrounding why a dog is homeless and they don’t mean the dog is broken!
  3. What is the energy level of your family?  To answer this question, think about your calendar and there is a Saturday that is totally open — no commitments, no plans, no family visiting. What do you and your family do with a whole day?
    1. Movie Day!!!! Rent a bunch of movies, make popcorn, and marathon the media.
    2. Waterfall Hike — find the nearest hiking trail that has a waterfall and get the family ready for an outing.
    3. Everyone on their own – you are in your reading nook catching up on that novel, the kids are playing in the back yard, and your spouse is gardening.
  4.  What is the activity level of your family?
    1. Kids are involved in every activity under the sun
    2. One or more adults work long hours
    3. Never home
    4. Good mix of family time at home and activities out
  5. What size dog can you see in your home?
    1. Extra large like a Great Dane
    2. Large like a German Shepherd Dog
    3. Medium like a Beagle or hound dog

      img_3432.jpg

      Private is a boxer-mix available for adoption through www.mostlymutts.org

    4. small like a Chihuahua or aYorkie
  6. What degree of grooming?
    1. Weekly Baths, brushing every day
    2. Bath, what bath?
    3. Monthly visit to the groomer to keep that puppy cut fresh
  7. What activities do you plan to do with your new dog?
    1. Daily walks around the neighborhood — I need an exercise buddy!
    2. Take him everywhere with us, ball park, vacations, etc.
    3. Snuggling on the couch
    4. I’ve got a map of all the great hiking areas in the state I want to go to with him

Knowing the answers of these questions before you even start the physical search for your dog can help you narrow down your choices.

 

Timing, timing, timing!

Everything is about timing in the dog training world and how we can help our dogs learn to live compatibly with their humans. 

Forgive the awful video quality and the cooing voice in the background (it’s me!).  The first thing I did when we let the puppies loose is lay down on my back like Gulliver and let the Puppyputians jump all over me!  My friend Suzy Houpt and fellow dog fosterer for Mostly Mutts Animal Rescue in Acworth, GA actually came up with the Gulliver’s Travels reference!

Did you know that from about age six weeks to about 12 weeks is what animal behavior scientists call the Optimal Socialization Period for a dog?  This means that you need to get those puppies exposed to as many dogs, humans, other species, etc. as possible.  I’m not saying take your baby puppy to a dog park or PetSmart to walk on the floor — you have no control over anyone bringing a sick dog to those places and you definitely don’t want your pup exposed to that until fully vaccinated — but take your puppy to meet all types of people and dogs you know are healthy and social.

What about those dreaded “accidents” in the house as you train your puppy that going potty outside is way better?  Well, if you come across a puddle and you didn’t see it happen, if you reprimand the pup he will just think you are a crazy person because they won’t put the two together.  Too much time has passed.

Now if you catch the puppy in midstream, that’s perfect timing!  Don’t wait for him to finish — yell “Hey” or clap loud and pick him up and take him outside to finish (or on the wee wee pad if you are training that way).  When the pup potties outside, I have a “Potty Party” and give lots of excited praise.  Some people give actual treats but the act of relieving oneself and some good praise should be sufficient.  You know that feeling when you really have to go…you can almost hear the “Ahhhhhh!”

The timing of giving the dog a treat when teaching basic obedience behaviors is also very relative.  You really want to time the giving of the treat with the behavior you are rewarding.  Sometimes we humans are just not fast enough so teaching these commands using a marker like a clicker or even the word, “Yes!” gives you time to get the treat ready to give.  A treat pouch is helpful but you want to make sure the dog is paying attention to the hand signal, your verbal cue and you — not the treats!  If you are doing a down/stay, you want to reward the dog for the down and the stay but if he breaks it, well then no reward!IMG_0492

When I was first learning how to teach clicker training, our instructor had us get a pile of dried beans and a paper cup.  We would click and pick a bean out of our treat bag and place it in the paper cup.  Mark and then treat.  Mark and then treat. Mark and then treat.  I think I dream about marking and treating!

To practice my timing for marking a behavior, I used my table mirror.  First I would crinkle my nose and mark it with a “Yes!” just to get the rhythm and timing down.  I can imagine anyone who walked into my room at the time would be calling for the crazy wagon! But I needed (and still need to!) practice the timing.  But it’s all about timing, timing, timing!