Should You Take in a Pit Bull Rescue?

Should you take in a pit bull rescue? Or is it dangerous to adopt a pit bull that has an unknown history and parentage?

Adopting a pit bull with an unknown history can be a risk, but each dog should be judged on its own merits by his current personality and behavior. While it is true that many pit bull rescues of unknown heritage have been horribly abused, neglected or forced to fight, they still love people more than anything and they can still become loving family pets. Responsible rescues and dog shelters will evaluate dog behavior before putting the dog up for adoption and offer only those pit bulls that display the proper temperament toward humans for adoption.

Some may think that it is better to adopt a pit bull puppy instead of an adult pit bull. But since the adult dogs are already grown up, their personality has already developed and you can see whether your pit bull is dominant or submissive with people and whether he has aggression to other dogs. Dog aggression is a trait that does not develop in some dogs until they are fully mature. So it is possible that the cute little puppy that you adopt who is friendly with all other dogs may not like dogs at all later in life. That includes dogs that they have grown up with and lived with their entire life.

Both environment and genetics play a role in determining a dog’s mature personality. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t adopt that cute pit bull puppy. Just make sure that you are willing to keep your dog if he becomes dog intolerant or dog aggressive as he gets older. But if you want to know how your dog will ultimately act around humans and other animals, there’s something to be said about adopting an adult dog. With an adult dog, what you see in their personality and temperament is what you get. It doesn’t matter what the history was. It’s an easier decision to make because you can see whether the dog is going to be a good match for the family.

Before you take in a pit bull rescue you should understand the federal, state and local laws pertaining to pit bulls. Before you adopt, make sure that pit bull type dogs are not banned in your area. Make sure that your homeowner’s association allows you to own a pit bull. Also, make sure that your homeowner’s or rental insurance policy does not prohibit you from owning a pit bull. And before you adopt, make sure that you are willing to deal with the stigma that many people believe about pit bulls.

How to Know If a Dog Is Right for You

When looking for the right dog for your family, it’s important to make the perfect match. First, consider the dog’s activity level. If you’re a person who loves to be active, then a more active dog will be a great match for you. But if you’re more of a couch potato, you should choose a dog with a mellower personality.

In addition to asking about how active the dog is, find out if the dog is affectionate. Ask questions about the dog’s personality. That way you’ll get a better match.

If you have young children, an adult dog may be a better choice than a puppy. Raising children and a puppy at the same time can be overwhelming. If you have kids, bring them to the shelter to meet the dog and see how the dog reacts around your children. If your children are overly energetic, look for an energetic dog.

If you have other pets, that can be a problem with a pit bull. Known for their animal aggression, many pit bulls have trouble interacting with other dogs. And cats are considered prey by pit bulls. So make sure that the dog gets along with your current pets through careful introductions in a controlled environment.

To learn more about pit bulls, go to All About Pit Bull Breeds.

Why People Are Looking for Rehoming for Dogs

Sometimes, through circumstances beyond your control, you may have to think about rehoming your dog. The good news is that there are people out there who are looking for rehoming for dogs.

Many people who are thinking of adding a new dog to their family think that rehoming is definitely the way to go. They would rather find a dog that has been living in a good home. The dog has been well taken care of and it is already trained.

If you’re thinking of getting a rehomed dog, just be sure that you know what you’re getting into. Find out as much as you can about the dog. Find out why the current owner is rehoming the dog. Ask for the dog’s veterinary records. Does the dog have any medical conditions or special needs? Find out if he is good with children or other household pets. Get as much information about the dog as you can before you make up your mind.

Rehoming is different than adoption or rescuing. With rehoming, it is up to you to make sure that the dog has been spayed or neutered, and that all vaccinations are up to date. Always ask the dog owner these questions to make sure the dog is ready for your home.

Rehoming Your Dog

When you have to give up your dog to a new home it’s never easy. But you may be forced to give up your pet for reasons beyond your control. You might have financial problems that prevent you from properly caring for your dog. You may be facing foreclosure. You may have found that you have a pet allergy. There can be any number of good reasons that it is no longer possible for you to care for your dog, and your primary objective is to find him a good home.

When searching for a good home for your dog, always start with your inner circle. Speak to family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. One of them may be willing to take your dog and give him a good home. Talk to everyone you know about rehoming your dog. Sometimes word of mouth goes a long way toward finding a new home for your beloved pet.

Speak to your veterinarian. He or she may know of someone who would be willing to take your dog. Speak to the breeder, person or rescue organization you got your dog from – they may be able to help you rehome your dog.

If you have no luck finding a new home for your dog this way, it’s time to broaden the search. You just have to make the right connections. Ask your veterinarian to post flyers in the office. Talk to local shelters and see if they can help match your dog to a potential new owner. They may have a bulletin board or a newsletter where you can advertise.

Use your social media to reach out to others. Post your dog’s photo or a great video. Tell your dog’s story and ask your connections to share the information on their social streams. Look for adoption websites where you can advertise and ask your local shelter if they have a website where you can post your dog’s information.

Make flyers and put them up in high traffic areas. Post them at the grocery store, the office, at school, at church, and in veterinary offices.

Good advertising makes it easier to connect with a new potential owner. Always remember to list your contact information. Have a good photo of your dog. Make sure to describe your dog and all of the wonderful things that make him so special. The better you describe your dog the easier it will be for potential new owners to get to know him. Let them know that the dog is spayed or neutered and tell them that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. It is always best to have all vaccinations up to date before trying to rehome your dog.

Rehoming Your Dog to Strangers

If you find that you have to give your dog to someone that you don’t really know, you may be worried. The questions just keep going through your mind. Will my dog go to a good home? Will they take care of him? Will he be happy there?

When you are rehoming your dog to someone that you don’t know, it’s good to take precautions. Ask the right questions before placing the dog. You can ask the potential new owners to fill out an application and you can also ask them to show you their home. Find out if there will be children or other household pets in the home. It’s important to make the best possible match for your dog.

Are Rottweilers Good Family Dogs?

The Rottweiler is a large, stocky, muscular dog that can appear very intimidating. In TV and film, the Rottweiler often is depicted as a vicious aggressor and an attack dog. With those negative images in mind, many people jump to the conclusion that a Rottweiler will not make a good family pet and that he will not be good with children. This simply is not the case.

Are Rottweilers good family dogs? The answer is yes, they can be.

A Rottweiler should not automatically be ruled out as a family pet. When correctly trained, socialized and cared for, the Rottweiler can make a wonderful family pet – loyal, loving and calm.

Are Rottweilers Good with Children?

The Rottweiler has a very strong bond with his family, and that includes the children. If you raise your Rottweiler pup around your children, he will be loyal and protective of your children.

A Rottweiler can be very happy living in an active household with children and other pets. They enjoy playing and interacting with the children in the family and consider them to be members of their pack. Rottweilers can be very protective of their children, seeing themselves as their protectors and guardians.

A Rottweiler lives for playtime and they love playing with children. But do not assume that just because your Rottweiler loves your children he will also love other children. Rottweilers can be wary of humans they don’t know. If a Rottweiler feels that his children are being “hurt” in any way he will rush in to protect them.

Until the Rottweiler is fully trained and socialized, you should supervise him around children. If Rottweilers are not exposed to children from the time they are puppies, it is likely they will not do well in a family setting. A Rottweiler that has never been exposed to children will likely be potentially dangerous if they feel threatened by a child.

Rottweilers and Other Pets

When a Rottweiler is introduced to other household pets from a young age, he is likely to accept them as part of his pack and he will enjoy their company. Rottweiler puppies are large and they grow rather quickly, so they can be very unaware of their own size and strength. That’s why it’s a good idea to supervise play sessions that involve multiple pets until you’re certain that they’ve all adapted to one another.

This is not a breed who will immediately initiate play or interaction with new dogs.

A Rottweiler can become aggressive with other dogs, particularly those of the same sex. If he is provoked or made to feel that his family or territory is threatened, a Rottweiler can easily become assertive and dominant. And while a Rottweiler can get along with the family cat that he has grown up with, he is otherwise disposed to see cats as prey.

Rottweiler Temperament

Rottweilers have a wide range of temperaments. There are different breeding lines that are bred for different purposes, and each has a different temperament. With a Rottweiler, you must know what you want before visiting the breeder. You need to ask the right questions so that you don’t wind up with a pet that is simply too much dog to handle.

The Rottweiler Home Environment

Rottweilers are powerful dogs that require a lot of space to play and exercise, and plenty of things to do. A home with plenty of secure outdoor space is ideal for a Rottweiler. In smaller spaces and with too little human interaction and guidance, a bored Rottweiler can develop behavior problems.

These affectionate dogs prefer to be with their family members. They do not enjoy being left alone for long periods of time. They enjoy being in the same room as their family members. And despite their size, they love to cuddle in your lap and lean against your leg.

A wary breed, the Rottweiler is not immediately accepting of strangers. He must take his time to decide who is worthy of his affection. As part of his socialization, your Rottweiler should be introduced to friends and family members from an early age. It is important that you provide your Rottweiler with enough socialization so that his protectiveness doesn’t turn into aggression.

A Rottweiler is a strong-willed dog with a mind of his own. That’s why it takes a confident owner to take charge and show him who is the boss.

Although they are well respected as guard dogs, the Rottweiler loves the family life. The Rottweiler is a very sweet dog and his priority is always his family. With the right training and socialization, the Rottweiler can make a great addition to any family.

Spinners 101: Why Does My Dog Spin

Does your dog’s behavior drive you crazy? She might shake her stuffed animals violently back and forth, “talk” back when you give her a command, or grab dinner off the table every chance she gets. Those actions have somewhat logical explanations. What about the activities that seem to have no rationalization? One of these dog habits is spinning. Some dogs spin before they lie down. Others do it when they greet new people. Is spinning normal, or is your dog just a little insane? Here are some theories that explain why dogs spin.

Securing the Area

Before dogs had loving companions to make life safe for them, they lived, hunted, and slept in packs. They couldn’t just flop down on a couch at night, confident that they were safe from predators. Some experts think that dogs would turn around before they went to sleep to get a good look at their surroundings. If they sensed danger, they could address it before closing their eyes. Herding dogs might be trying to get a sense of everyone’s location before they relax.

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Getting Comfortable

Another theory is that dogs turn around incessantly to create a nest for themselves. This activity could help them inspect the ground for uncomfortable rocks or twigs. It might also pat down tall vegetation to create a comfy bed out in the wilderness. When my dog is spinning in circles before she goes to sleep, she looks like she’s trying to scope out the most comfortable way to sprawl out across my legs under the covers. Perhaps she’s trying to figure out where my feet are so that she can plop on top of them. Pregnant pups may do this as natural maternal canine behavior to create a nest before she delivers her babies.

While there is not a great deal of research on this subject, one dog expert set up his own small study to explore why dogs spin before sitting. He set up an area that had either a smooth carpet or a rug with uneven lumps underneath it and sent dogs in to hang out for 15 minutes. The dogs were three times more likely to circle before sitting on the bumpy surface than on the flat one. This doesn’t prove that seeking out a comfortable position is the only reason why dogs spin before sitting, but it supports the theory.

Another way that some breeds get comfortable when hitting the hay is by covering their faces with their tails. You’ll notice this in cold-weather species, like huskies. These dogs have fluffy tails, which protect them from biting winds and snow. Even though you’re probably not letting your dog sleep outside in icy weather, she carries this trait from her ancestors. Rotating before she settles down helps her maintain her warm position more easily.

Staking Their Claim

According to Live Science, wild dogs might have circled an area to make a visible mark. This would have been a sign to other dogs that this spot was taken. It would have also made it hard for vermin, like snakes and rodents, to hide in the area and bite the dog while she slept. Did you ever think that your dog is turning in circles on your mattress to show you that it’s no longer your territory?

Protecting The Pack

In the wild, canines often slept with the pack. This provided body heat and helped protect the animals. Sleeping in a tight circle helps distribute warmth to every animal. When they’re curled up, the animals can still spring up if they need to act quickly. They wouldn’t be able to do that if they were lounging on top of each other. Turning before settling down can help the dogs form a tighter bundle.

Letting Out Some Excitement

Some dogs can’t contain themselves when they’re happy. If your dog turns in circles when you walk through the door, she’s telling you that she’s super excited. She doesn’t know whether she wants to wag her tail, lick you, jump up to get closer to you, or press her body into your legs. Therefore, she does everything at once, which can end up looking like a frantic spin.

Banned Breeds: A State By State Guide

Breed specific legislation has been making the headlines for years. Breed specific legislation or as it is often called, BSL, is a law that bans or restricts certain types of dogs based on their appearance or breed in an effort to decrease dog attacks on humans or other animals. You may be surprised to see that a majority of the states in the U.S. either have BSL or allow BSL in some form – either through being grandfathered in or in or as a part of a homerule exemption. The most common breeds banned through BSL include:

Breed specific legislation first came into being in the early 1980s after several fatalities occurred following attacks committed by dogs. It was the aim of these early laws to identify certain breeds as “inherently dangerous to society.” It should be noted that dogs are not the only animals to have faced breed-specific legislation. At one point potbellied pigs were banned from city limits as were goats. BSL can range in severity and direction, for example, some BSL bans certain breeds from particular areas such as public beaches or parks, whereas other legislation bans entire breed from towns altogether. In the past 20 years over 25 different breeds have been involved in dog bite fatalities.

According to the Michigan State University College of Law, “Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is defined as a law or statute that equates the qualities of a dangerous dog with a certain breed, and bans or restricts certain breeds based on identity, not behavior of a specific animal. This type of legislation does not make concessions for those members of the breed who are valuable assets to their communities, such as therapy dogs, assistance dogs, or advanced trained dogs such as drug dogs and search and rescue dogs.  BSL identifies a dog as “dangerous” based upon its breed alone and not based on any action or offense that the individual dog has ever committed”

When trying to understand BSL, you’ll come across some terms that may be unfamiliar to you. Below is a guide to help you understand some key BSL terms.

  1. BSL

    • Breed specific legislation

  2. BDL

    • Breed discriminatory legislation

  3. APBT

    • American Pit Bull Terrier

  4. HB

    • House Bill

  5. SB

    • Senate Bill

  6. Grandfather Clause

    • A law that allows municipal level laws to continue to be honored and enforced even after legislation that has been passed to ban BSL because the original municipal level law existed prior to any state-level legislation.

  7. Home rule Exception

    • A municipality is allowed to pass and enforce laws regardless of if there is a state level law or not. Such could be the case in states that allow municipalities to self-govern outside of state laws.

Breed specific legislation can include either bans or restrictions. Some restrictions include:

  • Muzzling the dog while in public

  • Spaying or neutering the dog

  • Contain the dog in a specified kennel with predetermined features such as concrete floors and chain link walls

  • Keeping the dog on a leash of a predetermined size

  • Purchasing liability insurance of a predetermined amount

  • Hang “vicious dog” signs at the place of residence

  • Have the dog wear a “vision dog” tag or identifying marker





States with breed specific legislation being enforced and there is no legislation that prohibits breed specific legislation





North Dakota


Puppy Mill Bans — What You Need to Know

You’ve probably heard the negative things about puppy mills and the way they treat their dogs. It’s enough to make any dog lover cringe, but recently animal advocates have started fighting back in order to create puppy mill bans to stop the sale of puppies from bad owners.

Puppy mills are often tied to pet stores, usually the ones you see in the mall — with sad puppies watching shoppers from behind the walls of their small, soiled cages. What puppy mill bans are trying to do is force stores like these to permanently halt the sale of puppies from mills and require that detailed information about where the puppies come from.

Recently, in Febuary of 2017, the city of San Francisco voted to eliminate the retail sale of any dogs who come from mills. This successful vote will allow more dogs from shelters and rescues to be put out in front to be purchased, rather than being overlooked for a dog who seems like a better option. Shelter dogs are typically in a desperate state of need, and truly need to find a forever home in order to survive. Puppy mill bans help shelter and rescue dogs increase their odds of finding a family that will take care of them, and eradicates the poor practices that go on in puppy mills.

The puppy mill ban also wants the sale of dogs under eight weeks old to be illegal, meaning the puppies will not be able to be stripped from their mothers early and be at a higher risk for significant health issues. This is why many of the puppies from pet stores aren’t the dream come true that their owners thought they would be. These dogs were raised incorrectly, and now are suffering because of it. Puppy mill bans seek to stop puppy mills, which often have no regard for the health of the pups. Instead, their main goal is set on greed — at the expense of the puppies they leave to fend for themselves in the world.

Puppy mills are essentially built on the model of making money, rather than providing puppies to good homes. This means that there is usually no care taken to make sure that the dogs are adequately cared for, because all the owners care about is selling puppies for profit.

Mills are usually run as a disgusting operation meant to breed dogs fast with little attention to their health. The dogs often live in wire cages that are just big enough for them to survive in, and the environment is very unsanitary. In puppy mills, dogs are bred as often as possible in order to get the most profit from a continuous stream of puppies.

Puppy mill bans are a step in the right direction for pet owners to have a better understanding of where their desired dog is coming from so they can refrain from supporting puppy mills.

What Puppy Mill Bans Mean for You and Your Family and How You Can Help

Puppy mill bans like the one in San Francisco help raise awareness to the fact that puppy mills still exist and are trying to take your money. By making sure that families are aware of where puppies from mills are being sold, they can easily avoid these places and buy a puppy that has a safe and healthy background.

Currently there are 18 states with cities enforcing puppy mill bans. On this list are several major cities, like Boston and Philadelphia, who are helping to spread the word that puppy mills are not acceptable by placing a ban on the sale of their dogs.

If you want to help in the fight against puppy mills, the best thing you can do is educate yourself. Before you get a new dog for your family, be aware of where he’s coming from. Don’t order your pup online, and stay out of the pet stores in the mall. These are the most common places for puppies from mills to be found, and your money only goes to help support them. Try talking to the store owner about changing their store to more humane practices, and supporting shelter and rescue dogs who are in dire need of homes.

If you don’t know where your puppy was raised, don’t purchase from that supposed breeder. Puppy mills are still selling millions of dogs each year, and it’s up to dog owners to seek out the frauds and refuse to buy from them. When you do choose to get a dog, go to an adoption agency or a shelter to find a dog in need. One less dog bought from a puppy mill is one more dog towards getting puppy mills banned for good.

Do Small Dogs Live Longer Than Large Dogs?

Do small dogs live longer than large dogs? We want our dogs to be with us for a long and happy life; that’s all part of being a good owner. It makes sense, then, that animal lovers would have questions about their dog’s lifespan, especially as it relates to their particular breed. There is a lot of misinformation out there, as well as some that could be confusing for owners. When we took a look back at some of the questions our readers and clients have asked on this subject, these were the most common:

  • Do small dogs live longer than large dogs?
  • Why do smaller dogs live longer?
  • Is it true small dogs live longer than big dogs?
  • How long to small dogs live?
  • Do all small dogs outlive big dogs?

Here are the answers to these questions about your dog’s size and what it means for their lifespan.

Do Small Dogs Live Longer Than Large Dogs?

Simply put, the answer is yes. It is widely known and accepted that small dogs live longer than large dogs. For example, a Great Dane is considered ”senior” at seven years of age, while a small poodle or Chihuahua is barely considered middle aged at the same age.


Why Do Large Dogs Have Shorter Life Expectancies?

This is a fascinating question, especially if you have ever owned a small mammal such as a rat that only lives to about two years of age. You would think that a smaller size would lead to a longer life, but this just isn’t true with small mammals. Take a look at elephants, for example; they can live as long as humans, and they are huge!

Nature doesn’t always follow specific rules. In April 2013, Dr. Cornelia Kraus from the University of Göttingen in Germany published some groundbreaking research on this subject to help determine the connection between size and life expectancy in dogs. Dr. Kraus analyzed data on the age of death in over 56,000 dogs from 74 different breeds. She found that small dogs do indeed live longer, and the researchers were able to quantify that number. Their findings indicated that for every 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of body weight, a dog’s lifespan decreased by one month.

Dr. Kraus suggests that bigger breeds die more frequently from cancer than smaller dogs do. This may be due to the tendency of large breed dogs to grow faster, which may be associated with the abnormally fast cell growth seen with cancers and accelerate overall aging. Another risk factor may be that larger breed dogs could have more dangerous lifestyles than smaller breed dogs who are more “pampered,” thus increasing their risk factors.




Why Do Smaller Dogs Live Longer?

The flip side of that question is that if big dogs live shorter lives, is there anything that makes small dogs more likely to live longer? Honestly, no one knows for sure. Here are some of the popular theories on the subject, though:

1. As mentioned above, it is believed that smaller dogs live longer because they grow more slowly than large breed dogs. Smaller dogs don’t have the fast division of cells that big dogs have and can be associated with cancer and accelerate aging.

2. Another theory has to do with concentrations of growth hormone. Studies suggest that small dogs have lower concentrations of the growth hormone IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor 1, in their blood than big dogs. Lower concentrations of IGF-1 shows a reduced risk of age-related diseases and longer lifespans. In humans, high levels of IGF-1 have been associated with increased risk of death from heart disease and cancer.

When Is a Dog Considered a Senior?

The determination of when your dog enters their “golden years” can have big impacts on their health. For example, there are some tests that vets encourage which only become necessary past a certain age or stage of development. When a dog becomes “senior,” however, depends on the size of the dog. Because large breed dogs have a shorter lifespan, they are frequently considered seniors sooner than small breed dogs. Our article, When is a Dog Considered Senior? gives you the lifespan of the most common breeds.

As for a general guideline, it helps to know that dogs are generally considered senior during the last 25% of their life. The following estimates for senior status take a dog’s weight into account:

  • For dogs over 80 pounds: approximately 4 to 6 years of age
  • For dogs 51 to 80 pounds: approximately 6 to 8 years of age
  • For dogs 16 to 50 pounds: approximately 7 to 9 years of age
  • For dogs 15 pounds or less: approximately 9 to 11 years of age

How Long Do Small Dogs Live?

Small dogs (those less than 15 pounds) typically have a lifespan of 11.25 to 15 years. However, some small breed dogs can easily live to be 18 years old.

Do All Small Dogs Outlive Big Dogs?

Of course, no one can predict how long an individual dog will live. There’s always the possibility of unpredictable illness or accident, genetic predisposition to disease that may lurk in your dog’s genes, or just sheer bad luck. Generally speaking, however, the larger the breed, the faster they age and the shorter their lifespan is.

Tips for Introducing a New Dog to Your Family

Introducing a new dog into a household where there is already another pet — whether a dog, cat, bird, or small mammal — can be quite tricky. How to accomplish this without squabbles or bloodshed is a question often posed to animal behaviorists. The character of any new dog you plan to integrate is an important factor. Where possible, you should take into account the sex, age, breed, and past experience of any dog you plan bring home before making a commitment.

The impact of obtaining a new dog can be strenuous on the other pets in the household. However, once the initial stress of introductions has passed, the new arrangement can turn out to be a happy one!

When you bring home a new puppy, remember that his life so far has been spent with his mother and littermates. Adjusting to a new house – new smells, new people and, possibly, new siblings in the form of other pets – is going to take some doing.

On the other hand, if you bring home an adult, the suitcase he brings along with him may include emotional baggage — fear, nervousness, etc. — from an earlier relationship.

In either case, your assignment will be the same: to nurture your new pet with a low-key comfort zone. Whatever you do, don’t overwhelm him with a welcoming party of noise and visitors.

Plan on spending the entire first day at home with your pet, acquainting him with his new digs — inside and out. If you’ve purchased a crate, introduce the animal to the enclosure, but don’t force the issue. Allow him to enter on his own terms: Keep an open-door policy all day long. The crate will soon become a welcome haven from havoc in a busy household.

Introducing a New Dog and Preparing Your Home

When you’re introducing a new dog to your home, you need to make sure your home is just as ready as your family is. Your home is full of potential dangers to your new puppy, but they’re easy to fix if you know what to look for.

  • Furniture. Certain types of furniture can be dangerous to puppies. Reclining chairs can trap a curious pup that crawls inside. Rocking chairs can roll on a puppy’s tail or foot, so make sure your pup isn’t sitting near the rocker when you decide to take a break.
  • Slippery floors. Puppies in the early stages of learning to walk are not steady on their feet and are often clumsy. Slick floors, such as linoleum or hard wood, can result in slips and falls. Cover the floors with rugs to help your puppy with his footing. Don’t encourage running on slippery surfaces.
  • Stairs. These can pose another risk to your puppy. Not only can they slip and fall down the stairs but the stairs also lead to other areas of the house out of your watchful eye. Place baby gates so that the puppy does not have access to stairs.

Introducing a New Dog and Keeping Him Healthy

Before you take a new puppy home, take him to your veterinarian for a full physical examination. It’s important that the newcomer doesn’t have any diseases that might affect your other pets. Make sure he has been de-wormed and is up-to-date on his vaccinations before bringing him home. It’s also important for your other pets to be healthy and be current on their vaccinations before introducing your new puppy to them.

Certainly routine vaccinations are essential for prevention of infectious diseases in puppies. Puppies receive immunity against infectious disease in their mother’s milk; however, this protection begins to disappear between 6 and 20 weeks of age. The exact sequence cannot be predicted without specialized blood tests.

To protect puppies during this critical time, a well-researched approach is taken: a series of vaccines is given every 3-4 weeks until the chance of contracting an infectious disease is very low. The typical vaccine is a “combination” that protects against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, parainfluenza, and canine parvovirus (the four viruses are commonly abbreviated DHPP). Many veterinarians also recommend incorporating leptospirosis in the vaccination series.

Introducing a New Dog to Other Pets

Introduce your new puppy to other members of the pet population s-l-o-w-l-y. If there is more than one other animal in your menagerie, introduce the newcomer to one pet at a time, so you don’t overwhelm him. Let your new charge and the incumbent(s) sniff and inspect each other. They may growl and bark at first, but this may simply be a sign of insecurity.

A Day in the Life of Animal Shelter Volunteers

Standing on the threshold of the dog cage, 8-year-old Mike Tomlin eyed the black Labrador retriever with some uncertainty. He had arrived, with his parents, to find a canine companion at the Marti Huizenga Animal Shelter in Fort Lauderdale, FL. But he never owned a dog before, and he didn’t know how to approach him. Luckily there were several excellent animal shelter volunteers there to help.

For his part, the lab was also cautious. A lot of people had passed his cage that Saturday. Some petted him; others ignored him. But no one chose him. By the afternoon, he was tired and had been disappointed too many times.

Shelter volunteer Lenny Nourick watched all this. With the practiced movement of a shelter veteran, he guided Mike into the cage and slipped a dog biscuit into his hand. “I always keep a few in my pocket,” Nourick confided, “to help people break the ice.”

The tactic worked. Within a few minutes, Mike and the lab looked like they had been friends all their lives. When they left the shelter together, it appeared they would be inseparable.

For Nourick, it’s the most worthwhile part of his job as a volunteer shelter guide. “My job is to make it easy for people to adopt,” he explained, “and to make sure it’s a right fit.”

The Importance of Animal Shelter Volunteers

Humane societies around the world depend on animal shelter volunteers like Nourick, who comes in each weekend for 4 to 6 hours. Nourick’s job is to find out what sort of pet a person is looking for — he carries a sheet with the location of all the different breeds — and the temperament. Because he and other animal shelter volunteers work with the animals daily, they know what type of family is suited to each pet. Nourick, a volunteer for almost 5 years, is vitally interested in making the right fit because he nor any other volunteer wants to see an animal returned. “That ticks me off to no end,” he said.

Becoming a shelter volunteer is not for the faint-of-heart. Taking care of hundreds of dogs and cats is possibly one of the easier aspects of the job, Nourick said. The hardest part is the knowledge that many animals will have to be put down after a certain amount of time, or if they pose a threat to other animals or people. “I find it very distressing. It’s not a rosy world out there.”

But for many animal shelter volunteers, it is impossible not to help out. Connie Siegel has been a volunteer at the shelter for two years and enjoys it more every day. She said that her first overwhelming desire was to “rescue them all,” which is the most common feeling rookie volunteers go through.

That’s why shelters normally don’t allow volunteers to adopt any animal for the first 6 months; without that rule, the temptation to fill one’s home with otherwise hard-luck pets would be just too great. There’s always that one special kitten or puppy.

“Everyone goes through those emotions,” she said. “But you can’t take them all.”

Instead, animal shelter volunteers rejoice over singular victories, like the best friend Mike Tomlin found. Sometimes the victories are doubly sweet,” Siegel explained.

“We had a cat and dog that lived together here,” she recalled. “They were inseparable. The cat was older, about 5 years, and she ‘adopted’ the chow. Someone adopted both of them. We all cheered.”

What Animal Shelter Volunteers Do

Animal shelter volunteers perform a plethora of services. They help feed the animals, clean the cages and, of course, help people find lifetime companions. Volunteers also help transport animals between shelters and clinics to perform veterinary services. Some volunteers help educate children in the importance of responsible pet ownership. A few volunteers will “foster” animals that need special care and cannot be housed with the general pet population.

Shelters are very flexible in the hours. Every extra hour donated is helpful, but many volunteers have a tough time staying away. Siegel said she’s scheduled every other month for about 5 hours over a weekend to fit with her job as a flight attendant. But she usually spends 16 hours every weekend at the shelter. “People think I’m nuts, but I love it here,” she said.

People become animal shelter volunteers for different reasons. Nourick said he and his wife lost their dog of many years, and the shelter offered a course in pet bereavement. After the course, he stayed on as a volunteer. Siegel said she has always desired to be a volunteer, and had helped in an aviary for about a year. She persuaded her boyfriend that she wouldn’t bring home a slew of cats. She kept her promise – mostly. “I have four cats.”

Giving a Puppy for Christmas? Here’s How to Prepare

Thinking about giving a puppy for Christmas? The holidays can be the best of times to welcome a new pet into your home. Or they can be the worst of times. While the emotions and warmth of the season can inspire you to share your home with an animal, the distractions can also make this a terrible time to bring home a furry friend.

There’s no shame in being honest. Most households are too preoccupied with the festivities to take on the responsibility of a new pet. Beginnings are important. When you welcome a pet into your home, you promise to keep him for life. You must make him a priority until he feels comfortable as a member of the family. The holiday season — with its shopping, entertaining and general confusion — rarely leaves you with time, energy and attention to spare.

On the other hand, people communicate almost intuitively with animals, and some people can get to know and appreciate a pet in the best spirit of the season. People with time to spare are great candidates for getting a puppy near the holidays. Can at least one adult take time off from work for about two weeks? Can you give large chunks of time to your new pet, playing and getting to know his personality, his likes and dislikes? All new pets need extra attention, but puppies and kittens eight to 16 weeks old need intense socialization at this phase of their lives.

Tips for Giving a Puppy for Christmas

One thing you have to remember in any dealings with puppies, especially very young ones in the two- to four-month window of age, is that they are very impressionable.

In the first few months of their lives you can set them up for success or failure based on your interactions with them and your ability to guard them against psychological trauma. If you care for them when they need care, have reasonable expectations for them, and set limits of acceptable behavior and protect them from adversity, all should be well.

Raising puppies properly is an active process that requires you to understand how they might interpret your behavior toward them, including how you address them and how you handle them. If we largely ignore them, rarely speak to them, and hardly ever pet or touch them, they may grow up to be overly needy or withdrawn. On the other hand, if we burble at pups constantly, and pinch and prod them as if they were produce in a grocery store, that too can have negative consequences. Pups so treated become desensitized to human speech and averse to handling, and this can lead to problems down the road.

It is far better to meter speech and handle the pup in a way that it appreciates, so that it comes to enjoy human company, understands our utterances, and appreciates petting and physical contact.

What to do First When Giving a Puppy for Christmas

Even if the breeder has done everything right and you adopt a near perfect puppy, it doesn’t take long — if you are not careful — to undo all the good work and create problems that will trouble you and perhaps your pup for the rest of his life.

The first month or two after adoption is the most critical although the juvenile period that follows is also important. Let’s suppose you adopt your new puppy at 8-weeks of age and let’s suppose you’re heading home with your new dependent to a household that you have carefully prepared to accommodate the youngster’s needs. You have purchased a dog bowl, puppy food, various chew toys, a doggy blanket, an X pen, a crate, a dog bed, and a collar and lead. “Now what?” you may think to yourself as you pull into the drive and carry your new pup across the threshold.

As you step across the threshold, your first thought should be for the wee mite. He has just finished a mysterious journey in a jolting jalopy and now finds himself in an unfamiliar den, full of unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. It must be a disturbing time. For that reason, some quiet time, down time, should be first on the agenda. Perhaps you could bring the pup through to a quiet room and introduce him to his blanket or dog bed, to his water bowl and food bowl, and stay with him for awhile until he becomes curious and starts to investigate. Then other individuals in the household can come along and introduce themselves peacefully and slowly, bearing in mind all the time the pup’s best interest.