Only bad dogs must get surrendered shelters by their owners.
Nope! Only good dogs stuck in bad situations get surrendered shelters by their owners.
96% of those bad situations are the result of THIS ONE THING:
Their owner neglected to provide training.
It’s as simple as that. Adopters often have this fantasy belief, especially when adopting an adult dog, that it will come to them fully trained and well adjusted. I was guilty of this myself when I adopted Jake.
That just isn’t reality.
In case you are wondering, the reasons that other 4% of dogs get surrendered include the adopter passing away or becoming too ill to care for the dog, a mismatch between dog and adopter that inhibits the formation of an emotional bond and similar reasons that are neither the dog’s nor the human’s fault.
Getting back to the 96%, let me first express that in a number. We are talking about approximately 153,600 dogs annually being surrendered to shelters in the U.S. by people who neglected to provide training and enrichment for their dog (add 6,400 dogs representing the other 4% of surrenders for a total of about 160,000 surrendered dogs).
How does a mere lack of training wreak all this havoc on the lives of dogs?
The lack of training impacts dogs in these two key ways.
Training builds a dog’s confidence and their relationship with their human helping them to adjust to their new home and learn the rules.
Training teaches a dog how to behave in their new home so they do things their humans like and don’t do things their humans hate.
Think about it this way:
Let’s say you adopt a four year old mixed breed female named Bella. Bella is adorable, spayed and has all her shots and a clean bill of health from the veterinarian but you have no idea what Bella’s life was like before you met her. You don’t even know if her name was Bella before arriving at the shelter. The shelter tells you Bella is house broken. Awesome. But when you bring Bella home, she keeps peeing on the floor. What’s up with that?
Bella isn’t being naughty, she isn’t stupid and she’s not trying to dominate you. She’s stressed!
Why might Bella be stressed. After all, she just got adopted. She should be delighted. Bella is delighted but maybe, just maybe, you still feel like strangers to her, your house smells new and maybe scary, there are noises she’s not familiar with and everyone is crowding around to get a look at her. Bella doesn’t know what to do and her nervousness makes her pee on your floor.
Maybe Bella is also heartbroken and afraid to trust people because her last family abandoned her by the side of the road.
Maybe she is traumatized because she was neglected or mistreated by humans in the past.
Maybe Bella just forgot all her potty training because she was in the shelter for a long time.
So, what do you do? Well, for 153,600 dogs like Bella every year, people give up and return the dog to the shelter.
But Bella hit the jackpot, she got adopted by you and you are committed to setting Bella up for success. You wipe up the pee without mentioning it to Bella, give her a meal and a quiet place to rest for the night and in the morning, you sign yourself and Bella up for basic obedience classes.
Over the weeks you attend class and practice at home with Bella, you begin to get to know and trust each other. You see Bella’s personality start to shine. Her confidence shoots through the roof because you are teaching her how to please you and she has learned all the basic cues.
Bella loves taking walks with you and getting treats for responding to your requests. She has blossomed into a bright, happy well-mannered dog because you gave her the time she needed to acclimate to her new surroundings and learn the rules of her new family.
Your rescued dog wants nothing more than to love you, be a good dog and live with you forever. And you’re a total Dog Hero for making that possible for Bella.
Now, I may have made up Bella, but her fictional story is mirrored by real life dogs every day.
Stressed out dogs finding themselves homeless and alone in a shelter through no fault of their own get lucky enough to get adopted and have a new chance at life but aren’t give even basic obedience training, let alone time and space to settle into their new environment get surrendered because they don’t magically have perfect behavior the minute they walk through the front door.
Shelter dogs are good dogs, they’ve just been dealt a bad hand and sometimes they need a little help reaching that “good” dog status.
If you are thinking of adopting a dog or already have an adopted pup, read our free guide for setting your furry family member up for success! You’ll be glad you did. Download the GUIDE here.