Articles

FINDING THE BEST NEW HOME FOR YOUR DOG

A Guideline to help you make the right choices for your Dalmatian's future

Prepared by members of the Central Maryland Dalmatian Club
Chris Jackson, Elaine Thomas
Julia Amos and Betty Galloway

STEP #1: MAKING DECISIONS AND PREPARATIONS

FAMILY NEEDS: Before you look for a new home, please make sure the whole family is aware of what is going to happen. If there are children involved, explain to them why you think the dog should be placed, and make sure they understand the issues. Children who can't let go of a pet can make the placement very difficult.

DOG NEEDS: Take a few quiet moments and consider the needs of your dog. You know what kind of home your dog lives in now, so what would you want the ideal new home to be like? If you are placing your dog because of behavior problems, then you should consider how the behavior will affect the new home. Does your dog:

  • like other dogs? cats? children?
  • need a fenced yard?*have a very high energy level?
  • need to go out at times during the day?
  • have difficulty being left alone?
  • need special treatments, diet or medication?

Make a list of these requirements now. It will help later when you seek the right home.

MEDICAL NEEDS: It is important to have the dog spayed or neutered before placement. Without this, you run the risk of the new owner harming your dog by using the animal to breed indiscriminately or selling the dog to a breeding farm/puppy mill. We have enough unwanted dogs in the world already without adding more. Check with your veterinarian or local shelter to see if a low-cost spaying or neutering program is available. Up date shots and other medical care. Give your dog the best start in his/her new home.

STEP #2: PLACING THE CORRECT NEWSPAPER AD

The BEST way to find a loving home is to place a well-written advertisement in your local newspaper. Don't be afraid to use this method. It gets much better results than flyers, notices, word-of-mouth or any other methods. You can get good results by following these recommendations.

Use the list you made previously to be very specific in the wording of the ad. Plan the kind of home your want first then target that kind of home. For instance:

Dalmatian, B/W, male, 2 1/2 yrs, neutered, very active, needs active home with lots of time for a dog. Fenced yard for exercise. No small children or cats OR Dalmatian, B/W, female, 4 yrs, spayed, settled and sweet. likes lots of attention, petting and walks. Cats O.K. Children over age 8 O.K.

You can see from these two ads that the kinds of home that should respond are quite different. If you were looking for a dog and you saw these ads, you would easily know which might best fit your home circumstances. Remember, being specific is important for two reasons:

  • You need to get phone calls from people who have the right kind of home and eliminate all the callers whose homes would not qualify.
  • If you are honest, specific and up front about your dog's needs, then the family who adopts the dog will be prepared to deal with the dog's limitations. If they are not informed, they may try to return the dog to you within days, or worse, take the dog to a pound or just turn it loose.

Don't use the word "free" There are people who take "free" dogs and harm them by reselling them to research labs or breeding farms. Also, the word "free" implies that the free item is something of little worth and you don't want to encourage calls from people who think of dogs that way.

STEP #3: SCREENING CALLS FROM THE AD

Have a list of questions ready to ask each caller and use a notebook to keep the responses organized. Use your list of requirements and the questions listed below when speaking with callers. Make arrangements with your family as to who will take the calls and arrange a quiet place to talk. Here are some sample questions:

  • Have you ever had a Dal before? If the answer is "No", make sure they understand that Dals are not always easy to live with or train.
  • Have you ever had a dog before? If "Yes" what happened to that dog? If the dog was hit by a car then you have the right to ask how such an accident will be prevented in the future.
  • Do you rent or share? If "Yes", can the prospective home provide a letter of permission from their Landlord stating large dogs are allowed. If they live with parents, do the parents want a large dog?
  • Do you have children? If "Yes", how old? Take care in this area. Don't ask a dog who has never lived with children to live with children under eight years of age.
  • Do you have Any other pets? What kind? Are other dogs spayed or neutered?
  • Do you have a fenced yard? If "No" how will this dog get the necessary exercise? Is fencing a possibility?
  • Will the dog live in the house? Be allowed on furniture? Where will the dog sleep at night? Where will the dog stay while the owners are at work?
  • Is there someone home during the day? If "No", how long will the dog be left alone?
  • Does anyone in the family have allergies?
  • ARE YOU AWARE OF THE DAL'S SHEDDING PROBLEM?

There are no "right" or "wrong' answers to these questions. They are a way to help you determine how the home will fit your dog's needs.

AS YOU LISTEN TO CALLERS, SOME COMMENTS SHOULD RAISE DOUBTS IN YOUR MIND! For example:

  • "I don't know anything about the breed but I want one."
  • "I want a dog for the kids to teach them responsibility."
  • "My child (son or daughter) wants to pick a dog for himself/herself."
  • "This will be a surprise for my parents/friend/nephew/grandchild.
  • "We need this dog right away. We don't have time for all these silly questions."
  • "The kids watch the movie all the time and the house is all decorated in Dalmatian stuff."
  • "I just talked my mother/roommate/landlord into letting me get a dog."
  • "We don't have a fence."
  • "Let's hope this dog works out."
  • "Why can't this dog be bred?" or "Why does it have to be spayed or neutered?"
  • "I'm looking for a "mate" for my dog."

Callers who ask these questions may still turn out to be a good home. Just keep digging until you have all the information. Remember that some callers may be good hearted and have the best intentions, but they may not be the right home for your dog. As you complete each call, take a moment and record thoughts and feelings about the caller. You may think you will remember, but after a while all the calls run together.

STEP #4: SELECTING THE NEW HOME

Invite the most likely candidates to visit you and meet your dog. Make sure the whole family comes to visit. If there are children, you need to see what they are like. Rowdy or undisciplined children make the transition to a new home hard on a dog. In addition, the children may be obviously overwhelmed by your dog. In either case, this may NOT be the right home for your dog.

If all seems well and you have a family you like, the next step is to take the dog to their home for a visit. This is an important part of the placement process and should not be missed. It will give you a chance to check out the home atmosphere, physical layout and your dog's response to where he will live. Make it clear, in a nice way, that this may only be a visit. Your may make the decision on site to either leave the dog, arrange for another visit, or pursue other homes.

STEP #5: FOLLOW UP

During the first week, check on your dog's progress in his new home at least twice. Find out if any problems have developed. Continue to check about once a week during the first month. If you can, assure the new family that you will be available to answer any questions they may have as your dog makes the transition to a new home.

Your dog's new family can find some good, helpful reading in "Choosing A Shelter Dog" by Bob Christiansen. This book is available at "Amazon.com", "Borders" or "Barnes & Noble" and contains excellent advice for those who are learning to live with newly adopted dogs.


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