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Tips for helping clients avoid behavioral nightmares when adopting?

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Forums Members Members General Discussion Tips for helping clients avoid behavioral nightmares when adopting?

This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  amycat1@gmail.com 10 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #10982

    amycat1@gmail.com
    Participant

    I have a general medicine practice in the Northeast and see a lot of dogs adopted from southern rescues.  It’s become a very common scenario for me to see a newly adopted healthy, happy(perhaps somewhat shy) 4-6mos old puppy soon after adoption, then when I see them again at 1 1/2 – 2 years ago and they have some fairly significant behavioral issues.   I also see transported adult dogs that have major behavioral issues, but clients have been told by well-meaning rescues that they just need to “settle in”, etc.  A few of these situations have resulted in heart-breaking euthanasias or relinquishments.

    I’m a strong supporter of adoption and have gotten all of my pets this way, so I don’t want to discourage clients from adopting.  I would, however, like to help clients make educated decisions when choosing a puppy or dog to adopt.  I feel like it’s a bit easier to spot red flags when adopting an adult (e.g. has had multiple homes, can only be adopted to a home w/o children, men, etc) than it is with puppies.  I was hoping to get some recommendations from this group in this regard –e.g. Would you recommend only adopting a puppy in the 8-10 week old range (allowing time to socialize the puppy before its “socialization window” closes) unless you were certain it had been well socialized during its critical socialization period?  Would you recommend completely avoiding adopting from a group who does “off the truck” adoptions? (This would be my instinct, but I have met many dogs adopted this way who are awesome!)

    Thank you!

    Amy

  • #10983
    John Ciribassi
    John Ciribassi
    Keymaster

    Amy

    This is a difficult topic, because of the very reasons you mentioned in your post. We do not want to discourage adoptions from shelters and rescues but the fact is that we are seeing more (in my opinion) animals being adopted out by well meaning groups who in the past would not have been when euthanasia of aggressive animals was more common place. I believe these adoptions occur for a few reasons. One is that the group truely may be unaware of a behavior issue with the animal, they may not be as forthcoming as needed in giving needed info to the potential adoptees or the behavior simply is not present or observed in the pet prior to adoption. We all know that temperament testing cannot reliabily ID all behavior issues. Finally, as we know, often serious behavior issues (especailly aggressive behaviors) may not become obvious until the period of social maturity.

    I think potential adoptees should consider a few principles when adopting:

    • observe the pet at the shelter with all family memnbers present (including, if allowed, other dogs in the household. Have them look for signs of shyness, unwillingness to interact or excessive hyperactive behavior.
    • ask the adopting group for all behavioral, medical and historical information that they have on the dog, including results of any temperament testing that might have been done.
    • input from kennel staff or fosters that may have spent time with the animal
    • verify, in writing, the return policy of the group
    • have them take the dog for a medical visit and enroll in either puppy/kitten class or age appropriate training classes soon after adoption.
    • ideally adopt from a group that offers training classes and assistance with behavior issues should they arise and see if they refer to veterinary behaviorists or CAABs in the area.

    Also, ACVB and AVSAB are considering developing a position statement on this very issue and hope that something will be available within the next year.

    Thanks for the great question.

    John

    John Ciribassi DVM, DACVB
    Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants
    Carol Stream, IL 60188
    drjdvm@gmail.com
    www.chicagovetbehavior.com

  • #11084
    avsabe@gmail.com
    avsabe@gmail.com
    Keymaster

    Thank you, John. This has been on my mind also. Can I share your recommendations on my website?

     


    Carolyn Lincoln, DVM
    AVSAB Corresponding Secretary

    Carolyn Lincoln, DVM
    AVSAB Corresponding Secretary

  • #11088
    John Ciribassi
    John Ciribassi
    Keymaster

    Absolutely Carolyn.

     

    John

    John Ciribassi DVM, DACVB
    Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants
    Carol Stream, IL 60188
    drjdvm@gmail.com
    www.chicagovetbehavior.com

  • #11104
    avsabe@gmail.com
    avsabe@gmail.com
    Keymaster

    Thank you!


    Carolyn Lincoln, DVM
    AVSAB Corresponding Secretary

    Carolyn Lincoln, DVM
    AVSAB Corresponding Secretary

  • #11122

    amycat1@gmail.com
    Participant

    Thank you also, John!  Looking forward to the position statement.

    Amy

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Carolyn Lincoln, DVM
AVSAB Corresponding Secretary
avsabe@gmail.com

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