This was a rough week training dogs for your friend The Amazing Dog Training Man. This past week I was called a blankhole not once but twice. Now for those of you that know me, you know that I am a very non-confrontational, laid back, easy to get along with type of guy. But I did rub a couple of people the wrong way this week.

Let me tell you about one of the instances. The local humane society asked me to take a look at a dog that they adopted out. The dog was having two problems: dog to dog aggression and housetraining.

No problem, I drove out to the house to evaluate the dog. The owner informed me that his dog wanted to kill other dogs and was urinating on his carpet. I had to wait around for about an hour for someone to walk their dog down the street so I could see the dog’s behavior. Finally a dog showed up and I quickly learned that the dog was not aggressive. He wanted to play! The owner, through no fault of his own, thought his dog was being aggressive. I informed the owner that he should take his dog to a group obedience class that I was teaching at the shelter. He agreed.

On Wednesday when he came he said that there was no way he could attend the class. He still thought that his dog was going to beat up the other dogs and be disruptive. I had one of my helpers handle his dog and we showed him that his dog was fine.

The whole time he was complaining about his dog. Every time I showed him how good his dog was, he came up with a reason why his dog was bad. He then said that his dog was peeing all over his kitchen. I told him that the easiest way to help him with the housetraining problem was to use a crate. He said that no way was he going to use a crate. He said that he would bring the dog back before he would use a crate.

I explained his options:

  1. 1. Use a crate
  2. 2. Use an x-pen to confine his dog
  3. 3. Hire a pet sitter
  4. 4. Bring the dog to dog daycare

He told me that all of those options were unacceptable. He would bring the dog back before he did any of those options. That’s when I realized that he didn’t want the dog and was looking for a way to put the blame on me because he was feeling guilty about bringing the dog back. I said that the best thing to do was to probably bring the dog back to the shelter.

That’s when he got really upset with me. I didn’t get angry because I knew that it was a difficult decision for him, and if it made him feel better to put the blame on me that was fine because in the long run the dog would be better off.

I understand why people get upset when they feel that there is no alternative but to bring their dog back to a shelter but they really shouldn’t. Not every dog is for every person, and shelter dogs especially come with their own unique set of challenges.

Adopting a dog from a shelter can be a very rewarding experience. Two of my dogs are “pound puppies,” and they’ve added tremendously to my life. A good piece of advice though before you bring home a dog from your local shelter is to get as much information from the staff and volunteers first to make sure that it has the potential to work. And then, think of the first few weeks as just a trial. If it works out – great! If not – don’t feel bad or guilty about having to bring the dog back, it just wasn’t meant to be.

All the best,
Eric

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