Q & A: Rescue homework

Q: Currently, we don’t have any pets and are looking to adopt a rescue. What behavioural signs should I look out for in a dog?

A: Fabulous question! Doing your homework before adoption is highly commendable. An important factor to note is that the behaviour you see in the adoption centre is often inhibited (stress) or over-aroused due to the immediate environment. What you see may not be what you get!

Try to obtain as much information on the dog’s temperament from staff and volunteers as possible. Pay special attention to what is said that may not sit well with you. Some adoption centres will allow you to take the dog for a supervised walk or to a quieter area where you can spend time with him. It will give you a better idea of his temperament.

It would not be realistic to give you a list of behaviours to look out for without knowing your specific likes and dislikes and expectations in line with your lifestyle. It is best to consult with an accredited behaviourist, who can initially steer you in the right direction in terms of breed or the specific type of dog you are considering.

Thereafter, the professional can evaluate a short list of dogs you have met who have pulled at your heartstrings, and assist in making an informed decision.

Be prepared that the dog you choose may require additional behavioural assistance, no matter how carefully you have chosen him. You will reap the benefits in the long run. Best of luck on your very exciting adventure.

Samantha Walpole, behaviourist

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