There are many different avenues you could go to adopt your next furry friend. The two most popular would be a shelter or seeking a reputable and ethical breeder. In both avenues you can find puppies, young adults, and even seniors. Breeders may retire their adults and offer them up to a great home and will have puppies on occasion that come from a genetically healthy line of tested parentage. Rescues will often have both mixed breeds, including designer dogs, as well as purebreds that irresponsible owners and those who have fallen on hard times were forced to give up. However, there is a third option if you decide not to jump through the hoops that a shelter wants or having to go to a breeder in order to bring home a canine companion.
This third option is to search out classified sections online, in newspapers and view your local bulletin boards around town for an animal in need of a new home (rehome). These dogs are still living with their current owners and the humans are making an attempt to bypass forcing their pet through the trauma of going to a shelter or rescue before finding a new and permanent home. Just like with a shelter dog, they can come with their own baggage, already be trained, or be brand new to this world as a young puppy. These dogs can make great pets and friends just as any other, but there are things you should consider before bringing home that free to good home dog!
Things to Consider
Backyard breeder or rehome?
Free to good home isn’t always free
The large majority of pets are indeed healthy and well fed, but that does not mean that the puppy described in the flier is health problem free, or that the senior dog has recently been examined by a veterinarian. When inquiring to any animal, some of the first things you should ask about are recent wellness exams, last round of vaccinations, and any previous health conditions. If you decide to meet the dog and his current family, demand to view the paperwork from any and all veterinary office visits of the last few years. If they cannot provide this, move on unless you are fine paying large sums of vet bills in a short period of time.
Is there proof that the dog has been spayed or neutered? If they are not fixed, and you intend to have an altered pet, you must consider the costs of blood work that needs done prior to such a major surgery, the surgery costs themselves, preventive antibiotics as well as pain medication. Is this something you are willing to pay for immediately after receiving your new free pet?
It’s not uncommon for an owner to either forget to mention, or purposefully hide any allergies or special diets the dog may need to be on. They want to place their dog as quickly as possible, and many people are willing to skip over important details to get the animal out of their hair and into a new home. This can include food allergies, flea allergies, grass allergies or even skin sensitivities that can lead to hot spots and infections. These conditions in pets are quite common and often are incredibly easy to treat with an ideal diet and healthy lifestyle, but to many this can be a lot of work for a pet!
Everyone wants to believe that their dog is the most intelligent, and this description may be used as a selling point to find a dog a new home. Phrases such as, “He walks perfect on leash,” or “Knows basic commands,” can mean different things to different people. To some that are rehoming their family pet, walking well on a leash can be pulling hard and leading the human instead of the other way around. Basic commands, typically, means sit, lie down, stay, come and heel on command. Not everyone would agree, though, and believe that the only basic commands a dog needs is sit and lie down!
Not knowing the training background of any dog means you must start from scratch as if you were teaching a puppy. Some dogs may have been taught with harsh corrections while others fully understand the system of positive reinforcement. These habits and learning strategies these dogs have means it may take them a little bit longer to get the hang of your training techniques, while others may take to it immediately. Ask if the dog has ever been professionally trained, been to classes, and if he has ever been punished, corrected, or ignored during unwanted behavior. This little bit of knowledge can go a long ways in your new relationship together!
It’s not uncommon to see the lies of backyard breeders attempting to place entire litters of puppies into homes with a substantial fee attached. More often than not, these fees do not guarantee that the puppy has previously been dewormed, vaccinated or socialized the way an ethical breeder would with their puppies. Furthermore, a backyard breeder is often unwilling to answer your lengthy health and training questions, as they just want you to hand over the fee and take home the puppy.
A backyard breeder is someone who is not breeding dogs as a hobby and to better their breed of choice, but instead is usually following a trend in the popularity of a breed or designer dog to make a profit. Ethical breeders, due to the costs of genetic testing, health care for both parents and puppies, and other expenses involved, do not make a profit on the puppies they place into homes. A backyard breeder will not take the extra steps to have their puppies’ parents screened for hereditary health conditions, feed a top quality diet or provide veterinary care for the puppies before they head home to their new families. If they did so, they would not make a profit and thus would make their breeding practices pointless for their efforts.
On the other hand, there are indeed good Samaritans out there who will rescue a pregnant female dog from a life of being a stray or foster a litter of puppies in the hopes of finding them good homes once they are ready. These people will still ask for a fee, but their puppies will be well socialized and fully vetted before leaving their care. They are also going to be more than happy to discuss health, care, training, socialization as well as just dogs in general with you as they are passionate about what they do!
Many pet owners may be looking for a new home for their pooch due to a behavioral problem that the dog has recently begun to exhibit. One of the most commonly reported behavioral problems is resource guarding according to clickertraining.com. This is the behavior in which a dog may act aggressively or defensively when he has a toy, treat or food. He can even guard people, furniture and other items he would consider a resource. This is often reported as aggression, and people become fearful that their dog will eventually bite their children or other pet, and so they list their pet for adoption so that someone else can deal with this naturally occurring behavior.
Resource guarding is a behavior in which the dog feels he must protect what he has as he feels that his resources are rare. This tends to occur when the dog has not gone through adequate obedience training and taught to trust humans fully. It can easily be cured through training, including teaching him the “trading game” in which he learned to give up what he has for a small treat!
You may not be paying for the dog upfront, but you will be paying in the end. Between hidden health conditions, a lack of training and behavioral problems, you may be paying heavily for a variety of medical and behavioral services for your new canine companion. For most who adopt, the price is worth it. However, don’t not assume that just because the animal is free that it is a good financial deal!
Sometimes we fall in love with one specific dog. He may come from a questionable background, backyard breeder, or free to good home and against our better judgment we bring him home anyways. This is a common occurrence, and while our gut is telling us to walk away, our hearts say take him home and take great care of him. This may end with a hole in your wallet, but with a full heart. In the end, no matter what considerations we take into account when searching for a new companion, it is our emotions and heart that win the game!