If I adopt a dog from a shelter, how will I know he or she doesn’t have any behavioral problems?
The first few months of a dog’s life are a very important imprinting period. What a puppy learns during that time will last a lifetime. But just like children, every dog is different; each has her own personality and her own genetic makeup.
Even brand new puppies from pet stores and breeders can and do have many of the same behavioral issues as rescue dogs–in some cases, more often and more serious than rescue dogs. (Many pet store pups spend entire months in crates or cages with little or no human contact. They need just as much help with behavioral issues as any rescue dog if not more.)
Once you have a particular dog in mind, speak with a professional trainer about him. No dog is perfect, but a knowledgeable staffer at the shelter will be able to tell you a bit about the dog’s history and help assess his current emotional well being. The shelter staff can be a great resource and may offer suggestions as to how to deal with any bad habits or unwanted behaviors.
Every dog can be a good dog–it just takes time and consistency. Ask the shelter or rescue group what kind of temperament testing has been done, and if possible, speak to the trainer who performed the tests. The great news is that with work (and every dog needs it) any dog can learn to be a balanced, happy, and well-behaved addition to your family.
Visit the DogTime ADOPT A DOG section to see available dogs and cats in your area.