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The second-hand dog
A DOG WITH A PREVIOUS LIFE
by Mo van den Tillaart
It so happened that we have been taking care of two Shelties that had previous owners, before they transplanted to the Netherlands and ended up with us. They were both born and raised in California (USA). The first one was called Leo, he was approximately 8 years old, and the second one was Sunny, he was 4 years old.
This running away is a main concern when you decide to take care of a second-hand dog, for they don't feel at home right away. There is no relationship or loyalty yet. It can take several months of tender loving care and good food before an older dog gets used to its new owners. So there are a few very important rules to follow when you consider taking care of a second-hand dog. Make sure that all outside entrance doors are always closed securely and the gate is latched in a fenced yard. Also make sure that the collar will not come off the head too easy, not even when pulled on. Write name and address on the collar (just in case). And my most important advise: never ever open any outside entrance door BEFORE you have the dog securely in its crate, or attached to a leash.
There are so many situations that can cause your second-hand dog to run away. You yourself can be very careful, but others, like little children and/or visitors, can cause the problem for you. For instance:
In order to become a trustworthy pet, your second-hand dog needs an enormous amount of tender loving care and attention from its new owner. Be with him as much as possible and shower the dog with treats and hugs. Know that the dog needs lots of company, contact and bonding activities, like grooming and training. That restores his sense of worth, pride and dignity. Frequent short leashed walks will help the dog familiarize with its new surroundings and become more comfortable with you. It will also help you housebreak the dog, if it wasn't already.
During the first few days, your new dog will be very quiet, but after a week or so, the dog will probably begin to bark when the doorbell rings or at people coming in the house. This might be the first sign that the dog is starting to feel a little bit comfortable. However, that does not mean you have to allow him to bark all the time. Obedience training would be a very good idea.
Introduce your rules and regulations right away. The dog needs a strong leader to call the shots. Usually problems will slowly depart if trained firmly. Be consequent. And be aware that a dog with a bad history will be less flexible than a dog that grew up in a loving environment. You can only guess at some of the things that might have happened to him before he came to you.
We know that many older dogs are successfully adopted. It can be tough in the beginning, but in the end there is a reward: unconditional love, loyalty and companionship by your furry friend who thinks you are the most wonderful person in the world!
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