Tuesday, October 3, 2017

5 Signs You're Ready to Adopt a Dog

You may have dreamed of getting a dog since you were a kid, but your parents wouldn’t let you have one. Or maybe your family has always had dogs, and you can’t wait to carry on the tradition. But getting a dog is not like buying a car or a new computer. Dogs require you to spend time with them, most of all. Here are 5 signs that show you might be ready to adopt a dog.

1.      You Have Time to Train and Play with Your Dog

Dogs are social animals. They love companionship, and if it was up to them, they would be with you 24 hours of every day. Fortunately, they’ll settle for much less than that. But you do have to make the commitment to spend a significant portion of your waking time with the dog.

If you’re getting a puppy or a younger dog, you should plan some time to train them. Even an older dog can benefit from training sessions. Besides, these can be fun for both of you as you’re learning to communicate with each other. You also need time to provide active play for your dog. You don’t have to go running with him, although most dogs would love that, but going for walks with him and throwing the ball or frisbee for him can take up many hours of your free time. Fortunately, that’s a lot of fun.

Your dog also needs downtime and cuddle time, too, but that’s easier to combine with other activities you’re already engaging in, such as reading a book or watching TV.

2.      You Have the Means to Care for Him

You don’t have to be rich to own a dog, but you do have to have the means to care for him. If you’re already struggling to feed your family, then having to purchase dog food may put you over the limit on your grocery budget. You should also think about paying for the vet for regular checkups, shots, and when your dog gets ill.

For unexpected vet visits, it helps to establish a savings fund that you pay into every month. You could also consider pet health insurance to see if that would be beneficial for you and reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

3.      Be Ready for a Long-Term Commitment

Dogs don’t live as long as some birds do, but even 12 or 16 years is a long time to commit to caring for an animal. It’s easy to see how a dog can fit into your life right now, but can you say for certainty that you are ready to care for a dog for the next 10+ years? If the answer is no or maybe, then you should rethink the decision to adopt a dog right now. After all, having to find a new home for a pet can be traumatic for you and the dog.

4.      Your Family/Roommate Is on Board

Your dog will become a member of your family. And dog make great companions for people of all types and ages. But you still need to make sure that your family members or your roommates are on board before you bring a dog home from the shelter.

Some people just don’t like dogs, and they probably don’t even know why not. It’s also possible that someone in your immediate family is allergic to dogs. Ideally, you’ll find this out before you bring a dog home. And as much as you really want to have a dog, it’s not worth fighting over if your significant other just isn’t on the same page as you right now.

5.      You Know Which Dog Is Right for You

If you’ve been reading books about dogs, researching breeds, and learning about pet adoptions over the last few weeks, then you have a pretty good idea what type of dog you’re looking for. Do you want a small dog that can fit in your purse? Do you prefer a big dog you can go running with? Do you like an older dog who’s a little calmer, or would you prefer a puppy you can spoil?

If you already know the answers to these questions, then you might just be ready to adopt a dog. Now the trick is to not let yourself get distracted when you visit the shelter by big brown puppy eyes. Instead, you should explore the dogs’ temperaments to find out which one is your perfect match.

How to Help Your Newly Adopted Dog Adjust

Your pet may not be able to talk to you, but dogs can feel anxious just like humans. Leaving the shelter and going to a new home is a joyous occasion, but your dog doesn’t know that. In fact, he’ll probably be nervous about his new surroundings. The following 3 tips should help him adjust.

1.      Prepare Your Home for Your New Dog

Before you bring your new companion home, you need to set up your home accordingly. While it can be tempting to adopt a dog as soon as you see it, it’s easier for your dog if you don’t spend all day running around trying to get organized. He won’t mind spending another day at the shelter. After all, he’s being cared for there, too, and the surroundings are familiar to him. Take a deep breath and get the things you need.

You’ll want to set up a crate to keep your dog and your belongings safe while you’re not there to watch him. Many dog owners also use the crate for their dogs to sleep in at night, but that’s a personal decision you’ll have to make when the time comes.

Next, you need a food bowl, a water dish, and of course, dog food. Most dogs aren’t picky eaters, but if you want to make the transition a little easier for him, you could ask the shelter what they’ve been feeding the dogs and buy the same kind of food. If your new dog has only been at the shelter for a few days, then it probably doesn’t matter as much.

If you have a lot of valuables and precious knickknacks in your home, it’s a good idea to put them in a safer place for now, just in case. Some dogs will play with anything they can get their teeth on, while others may accidentally knock something over just by wagging their tail.

Another thing you can do to prepare is to decide on which words to use for dog training now. You want to be consistent and not confuse the dog, and everyone in your family should be on board. Speaking of family, it’s a good idea to take your family members with you to meet the dog at the shelter before you bring him home.

2.      Make His First Day Easy

The first day in a new home can be stressful for a dog. If you think back on your first day at work, you probably understand why. He doesn’t know you or your family, the house is new to him, and nothing smells familiar. To make it easier for your new friend, it’s a good idea to provide calm surroundings. That means you need to warn the kids or send them outside to release some energy before allowing them to pet the dog. The kids are bound to be excited, but even young ones can understand that a new dog has to get used to them first.

If it’s possible, you should bring your dog home on a day that you don’t have to go to work. It will help you get to know him better and allow you to follow his schedule as far as mealtimes and daily walks go. You can also bring the dog home in the evening if the next day is a day off for you to maximize the time with him before you have to leave.

3.      What You Can Expect for the First Few Weeks

The first few weeks will be spent getting to know each other better. It will take some time for your new dog to thaw out and show his ‘true colors’. He may be very playful and loving, but those character traits won’t become obvious until he feels safe and loved in his new home.

Now is a good time to enroll him in obedience training if he has never had any. It’s not just about training your dog, either. Obedience training can help you understand your dog better and form a bond between the two of you. After all, you both have to work together to pass the class.

It’s a good idea to watch how your dog interacts with other dogs and animals during the first few weeks. Not all dogs enjoy playing with other dogs, but yours might be a social butterfly. As you’re learning what motivates your dog, he’s also learning more about you. Before you know it, the two of you will be inseparable.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why People Are Still Buying Dogs instead of Adopting One

Most people know that the local shelter is overflowing with dogs who are looking for a forever home. And adopting an animal is probably something that goes through your mind before you get a new pet. But the truth is that many people still buy dogs from breeders or friends instead of adopting one from the shelter for 3 major reasons.

1.      They Believe the Myths about Pet Adoption

There is a lot of misinformation about pet adoptions, and it’s difficult to dissuade people from them. After all, it only takes one bad experience to bad-mouth every animal inside the shelter.

Myth #1: It’s Impossible to Find the Dog You Want

Whether you’re looking for a specific breed, age, or disposition, you can find the dog you want in a shelter or from a foster home. The only caveat is that it will take more time than contacting a breeder and waiting for the next litter of puppies. But shelters know how important it is to find the pet you’re looking for. Many rescue organizations can even relocate pets for their perfect new home, so you’re not stuck just looking inside your city limits, either.

Myth #2: Shelter Dogs Don’t Make Good Pets

Every dog is different, and not every shelter dog will make a good pet for you. That part is true. But there is a dog in the shelter who is just right for you. Fortunately, the staff at your local rescue organization knows the animals well. For example, they won’t give you a dog who doesn’t like cats if you have one or more feline companions. And they would never place a dog who tends to get nervous around loud noises in a family with little children.

Myth #3: Shelter Dogs Have Too Much Baggage

Everyone has a story behind them. You do, and so does your pet. It may take some time to get a dog from the shelter to adjust to your home, because they’re more careful than a puppy. However, in return, you get loving companionship for life if you’re willing to put in the time. If you and the dog are a good match, his personal history won’t stand in the way of a lasting friendship between the two of you.

Myth #4: Puppies Are Free, Why Pay for a Dog?

Yes, the puppy your neighbor offered you is free. But when you add the cost of neutering him, taking him to several well-visits in the first year, and replacing every item he chewed up in your home, puppies come at a hefty price tag. There’s nothing wrong with giving your neighbor’s puppy a home, but money shouldn’t be the reason not to go to the shelter instead.

Most shelters only charge nominal fees to continue doing the good work they’re doing. That’s worth supporting financially, too. Additionally, you’ll often receive a pet that’s up to date on vaccinations and has been neutered.

2.      They Fall in Love with a Puppy

Falling in love is wonderful, but new love often wears rose-colored glasses. It’s no different with a puppy. Of course, they’re cute, but it’s easy to forget the long-term implications of owning a dog when you’re staring into those big brown eyes. There’s nothing wrong with falling in love with a puppy, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into before you ever start looking for a dog.

Before you bring that puppy home, you should figure out where to keep it, how to take care of it, and what to feed it. You should train the puppy, too; that includes crate training, housetraining, and general obedience training. Finally, no matter how cute that puppy is, you should consider how the rest of your family will react to this new family member once it starts chewing on things.

3.      They Want to Know the Dog’s History

When you’re buying a car, it might be wonderful to buy a new car just for the assurance that it hasn’t been in an accident. But getting a dog is not at all the same thing. In fact, purebred dogs tend to have more health issues than most mutts you’ll find at the shelter. Incidentally, mixed-breed dogs are often cuter than their purebred counterparts, too.

And while you may not know what exactly happened to your dog in the first months or years of his life, you can still get a pretty good idea of what type of dog he is. In fact, it’s easier to judge an adult dog’s disposition than to try to predict how the puppy will turn out as an adult.

Why Pet Owners Are Happier, Healthier People

Everyone wants to be happy, and that’s only natural. It turns out that happiness might be more within your reach than you think. Technically, happiness already rests inside of you, and you don’t need any outside influence to bring it out. But in truth, happiness just comes easier to pet owners. Incidentally, pet owners are healthier, too. Are you curious to find out why? Here are 4 reasons pet owners tend to be happier and healthier people.

1.      Pets Provide a Sense of Purpose

Everyone has lots of things they have to do. For example, you must go to work, do laundry, and take the car in for an oil change. But there is a difference between doing things you’re required to do and taking care of a pet. When you feed your pet, take it for a walk or to a visit at the vet’s, your jobs have a larger sense of purpose. They’re not just tasks that need to get done; your pet’s well-being depends on you.

Having this sense of purpose can boost your self-esteem. You can even watch this phenomenon in young children. Children who are responsible for caring for an animal (even if the adult is ready to help in the background) learn to feel confident in their abilities to succeed with other tasks, too.

2.      Pets Offer Companionship

Nothing affects your mood like loneliness. There’s obviously a difference between being alone and being lonely, and everyone can benefit from alone time occasionally. But the companionship your pet offers can make you feel better, whether you’re in the mood for company or whether you’d rather be alone.

Many elderly residents really appreciate having a pet at home, because they tend to feel more isolated than the rest of the population. But you don’t have to wait until you’re retired to enjoy the companionship a pet can provide you with.

3.      Pets Directly Affect Your Health

Pets are somewhat magical. While they don’t have anything to do with your diet, they can directly impact your health. As a pet owner, you will spend time relaxing with your pet, but you will also engage in more active games. Both are great for your health, consequently keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. Having a pet can even improve your heart health.

Pets can also calm you in times of stress. Even small animals like guinea-pigs have been shown to reduce anxiety. If you don’t believe it, just try it out yourself. When you sit down and focus on cuddling with and petting your pet, your breathing will slow down and you’ll feel calmer.

4.      Pets Help You Bond with Others

While pets are great companions, humans also need other humans to interact with. Fortunately, having a pet can make it easier for you to bond with others. It’s especially easy for dog owners, because they constantly meet new people when they’re taking their dog for a walk. But even cat owners can bond with others over their favorite animal, whether it’s coworkers, neighbors, family members or friends who turn out to be cat lovers, too.

How to Enjoy the Benefits without Owning a Pet

Owning a pet has lots of benefits, and of course, you want to be happy and healthier, too. But for one reason or another, you might not be in the right place to adopt a pet. That’s okay. You’re not doomed to eternal unhappiness, because you can still enjoy the benefits of pet ownership without adopting a pet.

For example, you could spend more time with friends who have pets and ask them to invite you to their house. If you know someone who lives close by, you might even be able to borrow their pet for a spell. You could offer to walk the dog, and some pet owners will really appreciate the offer.

If you can’t have a dog or cat right now, maybe it’s possible to have a small animal instead. Most apartment buildings don’t mind it when their tenants get guinea-pigs or rabbits, and these animals can be just as cuddly as a cat or dog. However, you should know that even guinea-pigs have a long lifespan, 8 years is not uncommon.

Finally, if you’re a dog or cat person, your best option might be to volunteer at your local shelter or foster a pet. Shelters are always looking for someone to socialize the animals and take the dogs for a walk, allowing you to be healthier and happier while doing a good deed.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

5 Things to Consider before Adopting a Dog

Adopting a pet is a huge decision. You should never take it lightly, because the life of an animal is at stake. And while it’s possible to find a new home for the dog, that’s not in the animal’s best interest. In fact, the worst thing that could happen to a dog is to have to go back to the shelter for one reason or another. That’s why you should carefully consider these 5 things before adopting a new animal.

1. How Much Time Do You Have?
It’s a good idea to realistically evaluate how much time you have to spend with the dog. If you work 10-hour days and have a 90-minute commute, then your dog is left alone for most of the day. And the few hours that you spend at home, you’ll be asleep. That’s probably not a good situation, unless other family members are willing to help you take care of the dog.
Some dogs are more active than others. If you get a particularly active breed, then you must be prepared to get outside with the dog. Otherwise, you’ll see behavior problems. An older dog may require less time for training and active play, but they still need to be taken for walks and played with, too.

2. Can You Afford the Dog?
It’s important to think about the financial obligations that come with owning a dog. The easiest cost to estimate is the cost of food. But there are other, more expensive items you will have to pay for. These include shots, veterinary care, flea medication, and doggie toys. You may also need to pay for dog training courses if you need help with training your pet.

3. Who Is Your Backup?
Do you know someone who can watch your dog while you leave town? If you only go on vacation once a year, then that’s usually not a problem. If all else fails, you can always find dog boarding (provided you think about it in advance). But if you travel out of town frequently, then you need to have someone reliable who can watch your dog. Ideally, this is another member of your family or someone who lives close by.
If you really want to have a dog even though you leave town a lot, it’s important to work out these details in advance. You’re essentially asking your friend to share the responsibilities of pet ownership, and they need to be okay with that. Otherwise, fostering a dog might be the better option.

4. Are Your Kids and Other Pets Ready?
Generally, kids and dogs do fine together. But not every child is dog lover, and not every dog likes children. It’s important to consider the age of your kids and the history of the pet before adopting a dog to become a member of your family. At the very least, your children should meet the dog before you bring him home.
If you already have other pets, you might also need to tread carefully. Most cats and dogs get along fine, but there are some cats that don’t like dogs, and then there are some dogs that just don’t get along with cats. In most cases, it has something to do with their personal history. And while these things can sometimes be resolved with expert help, it won’t be easy. Therefore, the best solution is to ensure the compatibility of your existing pets with the new pet before making the decision to adopt.

5. Who Is the Primary Caretaker?
Before you bring a dog home from your pet rescue organization, it’s important to clarify who will be the primary caretaker. Ideally, the entire family will chip in and play with the dog and take it for a walk. But you don’t want the dog to be the cause of arguments down the road. Therefore, you should agree with your significant other ahead of time who’s turn it will be to walk the dog in the rain.

Careful Planning Is Necessary
There are many benefits to adopting a dog and few drawbacks. The challenge is to consider every one of these points carefully before looking for the perfect pet. Once those sad brown eyes are looking at you, you’ll throw caution out the window. But if you can’t make this work, then the one who suffers the most is the dog. In summary, adopting a pet is a wonderful choice as long as you have covered all the vital questions beforehand.

6 Ways to Become Active in a Pet Rescue Organization

With the countless numbers of cats and dogs who end up at the shelter, it’s understandable that you want to help. Most people only think of adopting a pet when they’re looking for a new furry family member, but you can help rescue organizations on a regular basis in other ways. To give you some ideas on how you can make a difference, we came up with 6 ways you can become an active supporter of your local pet rescue.

1. Walk the Dogs and Play with Them
Shelters and rescue organizations often have a lot of dogs in need of care. The regular staff might just barely have time to feed the animals and clean the kennels. They’re always looking for volunteers. And the best part is that you get to help with the fun stuff. You can volunteer to walk the dogs and play with them. You might even be able to bring your children to help.

The same is true for cats and kittens. All the animals need human contact and social interaction daily. You can imagine how difficult that is with the large number of animals that end up in shelters. Kind, loving attention from humans can even go a long way in socializing an animal that may otherwise not be a good candidate for adoption.

2. Share Information with Your Friends
Rescue organizations rely on many people to spread the word. If you don’t have time to walk or play with animals regularly, you can still make a difference by sharing information about adoptable pets with your friends and family members. You can do this by following them on social media and sharing their posts in your feed. And if someone talks to you about wanting to find a new pet, you can direct them to your local pet rescue.

3. Host a Fundraiser or Community Event
Pet rescue organizations are always looking for donations, volunteers, pet foster parents, and people to adopt their animals. All these goals can be met by hosting a fundraiser or community event. If your community is already hosting a public event, you can ask to represent your local rescue organization at a booth. If they already have an appearance scheduled, they’ll be happy to have additional volunteers.

Another thing that helps your pet rescue is spreading the word about the event. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and anyone else you know about the rescue organization and the great work it’s doing. Be specific and tell them how they can support, for example, by attending the event or visiting the booth.

4. Foster a Pet
It can be easier and less time-consuming to foster a pet than to adopt one. Fostering a pet is the act of temporary housing and taking care of a pet while the rescue organization looks for a new pet owner. This process can take several weeks. During that time, you get the chance to play with the pet without necessarily committing to keeping him for the rest of his life.

Fostering a pet can be a good solution for a family who isn’t ready to adopt a pet, people who move around a lot, or people who are out of town for certain times of the year. The great thing about fostering a pet is that you get paid in kisses. And while parting with the pet can be bittersweet, it’s nice to be responsible for a happy ending and a saved life. And if all else fails and you fall in love with this pet, then you usually have the option of adopting it yourself.

5. Adopt a Pet
Adopting a pet is a great way to help a rescue organization. There are plenty of animals in need of new homes, most of them are ready to be loving companions who just need to be given a chance. Rescue organizations tend to know their pets well, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. They’ll make sure that the pet is the right fit for you, because the one thing they want to avoid at all costs is having to rehome that same animal again.

6. Donate
You can make a difference by donating financially to your local rescue. The money is always useful to pay for food, veterinary care, and staff. If there are funds left, they can be used for marketing to help more pet owners find their new best friend.

Monday, June 12, 2017

How to Help a New Pet Adjust to Home

Congratulations on deciding to adopt a pet. It’s a big step for you and your family and for your new pet, too. However, not every new pet owner understands that the first few days can be very stressful for the new animal. To make the transition easier on your new best friend, it’s a good idea to keep a few things in mind.

Provide Privacy and Quiet Space
Whether you’re adopting a cat or a dog, it’s going to take some time for him or her to get used to the new surroundings. Animals crave familiarity as much as humans do. And everything in your place just smells different than what they’re used to. It’s actually quite common for new pets to find a safe place to hide and only come out for food and water (or not even that for the first day or two).

You can make things easier for your pet by offering some privacy and peace and quiet. Cats are best kept to one room at first, where they have access to a clean litterbox and food and water. You don’t even need to take them out of the cat carrier. Instead, just open the door so they can decide when they feel that it’s safe to venture out.

Big dogs obviously won’t fit in a carrier, but you can still make them feel comfortable by giving them a safe corner to hide in. Leaving a cuddly blanket or a doggy bed in an area of the house that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic is perfect.

Minimize Anxiety
Leaving the shelter, riding in a car, and meeting new people at their new home can be really overwhelming for your new pet. Ideally, you should minimize his anxiety by keeping travel to a minimum. That means you need to pick up dog or cat food before you pick up your pet at the shelter, so that you can go straight home from there.
It’s also best if you can keep visitors away for a while. You’ll also need to tell your children to give the animal some time to get used to the home before they overwhelm it with love. Of course you can introduce them, but you should try to keep the kids calm to avoid scaring your new pet.

Be Patient
Depending on the age and general disposition of your pet, it can take some time for him or her to get used to your home and its inhabitants. Kittens and puppies are often more adventurous and will thaw out quicker. An older pet may be more cautious and take longer to feel comfortable. Fortunately, all kinds of pets will eventually adjust as long as you’re patient with them. All animals are inherently curious, and you won’t have to wait long until your pet starts exploring your entire home and making it his own.

Be Loving

Even if your pet hides in the corner of your house all day long, he or she still needs love and attention from you. Make sure to spend lots of time with your pet, such as petting him and talking to him quietly. He’ll learn that you’re not a threat and begin to trust you. Now is not the time to start dog training or discipline the animal if it did something wrong. Of course you can redirect his attention to a different toy if it chewed up your shoe, but it’s more important to build trust than to expect obedience at this point.

Stick to Routines
Dogs and cats like routines. Your animal was probably used to being fed at specific times of the day at the shelter. Dogs may also have their outside time scheduled. If at all possible, you should try to keep the schedule the same for a little while. If you don’t like those times, you can always change them later (by gradually adjusting the time about 30 minutes each day). If you can’t follow the shelter’s schedule because of work or other commitments, then you’ll just have to do the best you can.

Getting a new pet is exciting, so it can be kind of disappointing when your new pet is just hiding at first. But when you follow these tips and let your new pet set the pace, it won’t take long until you have made a new best friend for life.