Helena le Mahieu of ASH Animal Rescue argues that most behavioural problems can be prevented or corrected at an early stage.
Unlike many other shelters and dog pounds Ash Animal Rescue has a strict ‘NO KILL’ policy as we are convinced that dogs shouldn’t be killed because they are unwanted, homeless or have issues.
The reasons why dogs end up in a shelter can be looked at in many different ways. For us one distinction is whether the owner’s circumstances have changed to such an extent that they can no longer care for their pet, or that it has developed behavioural problems which makes life difficult or impossible for the owners to continue providing the required care.
This last group needs our help most, and yet these animals are harder to re-home as their issues need to be assessed and addressed with re-homing taking longer because of it.
"Prevention starts before your dog
joins your household."
We are convinced that most of these problems could have been prevented or corrected at an early stage. A stitch in time saves nine certainly applies in most cases. Prevention starts before your dog joins your household. There is such a huge variety of dogs, different coats, different sizes, different energy levels, and different temperaments. Be honest, discuss and decide what would suit your lifestyle, your circumstances.
Maybe you think it best to start with a puppy as they have no issues yet and it will be easier to train them. Don’t forget that all dogs were puppies once and yet many got into trouble and ended up in rescue. Puppies will only grow into well behaved adults if they get the right start in life, socialising being one of the most important things; a puppy that spent the first 8-9 weeks of its life in a shed or similar with little or no interaction with humans may be frightful and scared of noises and strangers for the rest of its life.
"You don’t need to be a dog behaviourist to have a dog, but if a problem becomes a habit, you have to find help to solve it."
The new owner will have to keep up the socialising and add a new dimension to it; puppy needs to learn social behaviour around other dogs and their owners. A reactive dog can cause its owner a lot of stress; it can take the fun out of any walk. So sometimes it is tempting to give up on walks altogether which is a big mistake. You don’t need to be a mechanic to own a car and you don’t need to be a dog behaviourist to have a dog but if a problem becomes a habit you have to find help to solve it.
We re-homed a Bassethound years ago and all went well for a while. His owner would start every day with a nice walk to the park where Homer would play off the lead with all his buddies who would also be there every day. Then one day he rang me and said they were in trouble, Homer no longer would come back to him when it was time to go. He was late for work three times that week. He was seriously considering bringing Homer back to us as the problem seemed to be getting worse by the day. I reassured him and said that Homer could always come back to us the same as any animal ever re-homed from Ash. I asked him what he did when he finally caught Homer and put him on the lead. He admitted he would give out to him, which would only make Homer more determined not to be caught the next day. So I asked him whether he was willing to try a different approach. Take him to the park as usual every day, keep him on the lead, be positive and allow him to meet his friends, don’t even tell him it is his own fault that he can’t be free now. Do it all week and only when you don’t have to go to work in the weekend you let him off the lead and play free. When it is time to go home tell him once it is time to go, turn around and walk away in the direction of home. Before you leave the park show him the lead and hook him on praising him for being a good boy. Don’t chase, don’t keep calling, if it doesn’t work you do another week of walks on the lead. They never looked back, one week was enough and Homer lived happily ever after …...