A dog can bring an immense amount of joy to a family. Sadly, many times shelter dogs get a bad rap.
When we were looking to add another dog to our family everyone had their opinion. Everything from what type of dog I should get, where we should get it from and why I should AVOID shelter dogs at all costs.
The advice to avoid adopting from a shelter really upset me. There are so many dogs that need homes.
The reasoning ranged from they are dangerous, they run off, they won’t bond with you, they get into garbage…
I could continue, but I am pretty sure you get the point.
After doing research on several breeds and local breeders I started doing some research on shelter dogs. Were they really as dangerous as everyone was making them out to be? Are they unable to bond? Does being a shelter dog make them less trainable?
Today I am busting 9 myths about shelter dogs.
Shelter dogs are dangerous.
This is a very broad generalization about dogs. Shelter dogs are no more dangerous than a purebred dog. Whether someone gets a dog from a breeder, their next-door neighbor or a dog shelter, once the dog becomes part of the family, caring for it will be the owner’s responsibility. From buying food, ready-made dog kennels, a bed, to collars and basic grooming supplies, there is a lot that goes into looking after a dog.
ANY dog can be dangerous!
Sure some breeds are more likely to be considered dangerous, but what makes a dog dangerous is how it is handled by its owner.
Any dog that has been mistreated can become dangerous.
Some breeds are also more protective than others. Protectiveness in dogs really needs to be approached with care, proper training and respect. It is also important to keep a dog that is prone to being protective properly socialized.
The danger or threat that a dog could potentially pose is a PEOPLE problem, not a dog problem.
Shelter dogs can’t be left alone with kids
No dog should be left alone with kids.
Kids don’t always think about their actions before doing something. If you have kids it is important to teach them how to behave and interact properly with a dog.
However, I have seen first hand that even with the best parental guidance kids can make momentary bad decisions. It is these odd, one-off poor interactions with a dog that can be dangerous.
Moral here: no matter how “good” you think your kid or dog is, never leave the two alone together.
Shelter dogs can’t bond
Many dogs that come in to the shelters have had pretty rough lives. They are leery and standoffish or even afraid of people.
This doesn’t mean that they can never develop a bond with a new owner. In many cases, all these dogs need is love, compassion and patience.
This was our exact experience when we adopted Sadie. She was scared and wasn’t too interested in meeting any of us. However, I saw the sadness in her eyes and had to at least give her a chance.
Once we got home and she was able to run round and play she was a totally different dog. Now, she still had some quirks about her. But over of the course of the year that she has been with us she has developed an incredible bond with everyone. All she needed was a loving home and people that weren’t going to give up on her (dog toys and a fancy bed didn’t go wrong with her either, I found these beds to be decent).
I am glad we took a chance on her.
They have all been abused
This is another fallacy. Not all dogs that end up in shelters have been abused. Dogs end up in shelters for all kinds of reasons.
Sometimes the owner dies and no one wants the dog. Life changes may occur and a family may have to surrender the dog because they can no long afford to take care of it. Puppies end up in the shelter all the time because of accidental litters.
These issues are of no fault of the dogs.
Don’t get me wrong, abused dogs end up there too but shelters do their due-diligence in making sure the dogs are “adoptable.”
They run off
This is just silly. Most dogs will run off if they are not tethered to you or in a fenced yard!
We have 3 dogs and only one of them is a “runner.” The other two are more than content with our home and yard.
I would like to say that it is a matter of training them but from my experience it has to do with the personality of the dog rather than the training. Sadie is very well trained but if she gets the chance she will bolt after a rabbit or a bird. Obviously, she needs some work on that.
But comparing her to my GSD mix who is not a “runner” it boils down to their personalities.
It is funny how you notice these things when you have more than one dog!
Shelter dogs are garbage eaters
You wouldn’t believe how many people told me this was the reason they would never adopt from a shelter!
Shelter dogs are no more likely to get into your garbage than a purebred.
In fact my shelter dogs have NEVER gotten into our garbage. Personally, I believe when it comes to food and snacks these dogs of ours are very spoiled. So I guess our garbage just doesn’t appeal to them. We also don’t eat much meat so they aren’t in there looking for bones or scraps from dinner.
They chew up furniture
All dogs will chew up stuff if they are bored. Invest in some Benebones, Kong toys, antlers for dogs, Mammoth ropes and other heavy duty chew toys to keep your pooch occupied.
Also, I am a firm believer that dogs should be kennel trained. Keeping your dog in its kennel while you are gone will ensure that they don’t chew your furniture up while you are gone.
Shelter dogs can’t be trained
The old saying “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” isn’t completely true.
While puppies are easier to train, that doesn’t mean that an older dog can’t be trained. It may just take a little more work.
Sadie was almost 2 when we adopted her. She wasn’t house trained and didn’t have any manners. Teaching her a the first few commands was tough (she is very stubborn). Once we got through those she began learning new things much quicker.
Shelter dogs aren’t healthy
I did a lot of research on this before we decided to adopt from the shelter. My main worry was that we would all fall in love with a dog and it would get sick and have to be put down.
As it turns out, the answer to this varies. Many studies have been done comparing the health of mix breed dogs to purebreds. Some results favored the mutts and others said that purebreds.
Your best bet is to talk with the shelter workers and see what they know about he health of the dog you are interested in. Also, ask what their policy is on sick dogs.
Our local shelter also has a 5 day requirement of health review by a veterinarian. If you adopt a dog and take it to the vet in those 5 days and the vet says there is something wrong with the dog the shelter will give you a refund and take the dog back. If you don’t have time to take your dog to a vet practice, then you can easily make use of a mobile vet service (like Vet Care At Home). This should help make things a bit easier for you, and means that you won’t even have to worry about leaving the house and finding the closest vets to you.
If you are looking to add a furry family member I hope you found this helpful! Did you or your family adopt a shelter dog? Let me know in the comments below!