Finding A Dog
Finding A Dog
Shelby Marlo, CPDT (Animal Behavioral Specialist, Professional Dog trainer) gives expert video advice on: Where do I go to get a dog?; Don't shelter or rescue dogs come with too many problems?; Do dog breeders provide the healthiest dogs? and more...
Where do I go to get a dog?
Where to find a dog is a really complicated question because you go to the shelter and try to asses if this dog is going to work for you, knowing none of its history, and they can turn out to be a perfect match for your life. I have clients who call me on the phone and say, “I got her at the pet store,” and they feel horrible about it. Of course, we don't want to promote the puppy mail situation, however there are great dogs sometimes available there. Certainly that needs to stop and it's wrong, but there are dogs that are still in the need of homes and you are perpetuating that situation by buying that dog there. However, because people have already bought the dog and they come to me as a trainer, those dogs sometimes turn out to be great and sometimes they turn out to be heartbreakers because they have behavioral problems or physical problems. If you're set on a breed, there are breed organizations for every single breed, even the most esoteric breed of dog. I'm a smooth collie person and there's the smooth collie rescue organization of the world. They're all out there, so if you have your mind set on a certain breed, certainly you can find a place that is going to accommodate you. It's a hard question to answer. It becomes the dog who you fall in love with and if you are going to try to rescue the dog, what I really recommend is that you try to have an adoption situation with the dog. This means that you take the dog for a few days, see if it really does match your lifestyle, and give yourself a chance to fall in love.
Can I get a purebred dog from a shelter or rescue?
You can absolutely get a purebred dog from a shelter or a rescue. You wouldn't believe the amount of purebred dogs you can find at your local pound. I hate to use that word, but that is just what we call them. Then again, there are also many, many breed organizations. Every breed has its own rescue organization. If you're into Burmese Mountain Dogs, you can call the Burmese Mountain Dogs rescue society in your area and you can most likely find yourself the dream dog.
Don't shelter or rescue dogs come with too many problems?
Shelter and rescue dogs do on the average come with some issues. Shelter or rescue dogs have lost their first pack, their first human, and so they tend to almost over-bond with the new owner. So you have to just know what you are getting into with shelter or rescue dogs. You have to assess that shelter or rescue dog and now the shelters are getting really, really smart and they are starting to do their own shelter assessments, so that when you walk in and you have a child and a family and you want just a really easy going shelter or rescue dog they're going to direct you to that dog as opposed to just letting you go through and "Oh, I like that dog", because he's cute. That isn't necessarily going to work for you.
Are shelter or rescue dogs free?
Shelter and rescue dogs are not free. They come at a price: you do have to make a payment for them. However, they do come spayed and having all their shots. There's a lot of pluses to that if money is an issue. You have to take into consideration what this dog might have been through and know that you may have to put them through some training. A lot of dog shelters now are offering free training classes and lectures that help you to better assimilate the dog into your home.
Where do pet stores buy their dogs?
Pet stores most likely get their dogs from pet mills, and the reason is that most reputable breeders will not sell to a pet store. However, what I have been finding and again, where I live in Los Angeles and Hollywood, is that it's an area where it is very affluent, so I am finding there's better quality pets that are in the pet stores these days. That's not to discount the fact that in many, many states, there is still horrid conditions for dogs in pet mills.
What is a puppy mill?
The definition of a puppy mill is that the puppies are not taken care of. The puppies are born with their mother. They're kept in a cage. They're soiling the very area that they sleep in which is not natural to dogs. Dogs are clean animals by nature. They will not soil their bed. Dogs in puppy mills are forced to soil their area. They are not socialized. They're not held. They're not loved. It's deplorable the situation that goes on in puppy mills.
Do dog breeders provide the healthiest dogs?
Dog breeders are a breed unto their own. They are hit and miss, just like anything else in life. Some of them really take great care. An example would be the woman who was the founder of Labradoodles in Australia. She goes to the extent of playing the sound of aeroplanes to the dogs because she knows that she's going to be shipping these puppies overseas. She teaches them steps to be in a collar and a leash. She handles them, she holds them, she cuddles them, she gets them to understand what it's like to be living with humans; other dog breeders don't. With them, some of the dogs are outside. They're living in kennels; they're kept like an animal. These dogs don't have a lot of human contact. So, you have to interview the dog breeder, and the dog breeder will also interview you. A really, really good dog breeder will want to do an in-depth interview with you just as much as you want to interview them.
How much does a purebred dog cost?
Depending on the breed you are looking for, usually if you are looking at a dog that's about $200, $300, or 4... $200 to 300, that's kind of a sign of probably not a well bred dog – lower end. $500 is probably the starting amount for a purebred dog, all the way up to a couple of thousand. Cavalier Charles dogs tend to be in the $2,000 range... I'm not sure why... they are pretty, you know, around these days – but they're are around $2,400 is the top amount I've ever heard for a Cavalier dog... and the Labradoodle dogs sometimes can cost that much as well.
What's a pedigree?
The pedigree of a dog will tell you what its ancestry is. It's going to tell you who the dog's mum was, who its dad was. Ideally it's going to go in depth about many things. Behaviourally, what was the dog doing? For example, when I look at a dog I want to know if it showed. Did it show for beauty? Did it show in competition obedience? If the dog's a retriever, maybe it was in retriever trials. Then I'm going to look at the dog's health record, so I'm going to look at the OFA, which is the orthopaedic foundation for hips and elbows. We're going to look at eyes. That's the CERF. These are situations specific to your breed of dog; for example, many retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia, so you want OFA excellent if you can find that. If your dog's parents are OFA excellent on each side, your puppy is less likely to have to have hip dysplasia surgery. That's what you're looking for. You're trying to get a little insight into who this dog is and what it might possibly turn into, although it's not a guarantee.
Do I need a pedigree if I'm not looking for a show or breeding dog?
You don't even need a pedigree for a show or breeding dog. However, it is going give you some insight if you have that knowledge of who the dog might become and of what health problems might arise. So, it's always a good idea to know that, but you don't need it.