Decoding Shelter Descriptions

Decoding Shelter Descriptions

There are tons of fantastic dogs in shelters across the country.  Even though there are a lot of dogs to chose from when adopting, not all of them are going to be a perfect fit for you and your family.  In order to help find the best match, shelters often list descriptions of their dogs to help give you an idea of the dog’s personalities, energy levels, and other important info.

Sometimes the descriptions can be hard to “decode” as there is often important or curious information that can be pulled away from these descriptions if you read between the lines.  Here are a few excerpts from various shelter websites from across the country and some insight as to the true story.

Though a little shy at first, she’s content to stick right by your side once she gets to know you. She’s a sensitive, sweet girl who would thrive in an adult household.

A few things catch my curiosity here.  First off, they come right out and say that this dog is shy, that is great info to have because a potential owner needs to know this.  However, they make the suggestion that the shyness is something that will pass.  What I take away from the description is that the dog will continue to be shy in other situations due to the mention that she is content to stick right by your side, which is a trait of a shy and nervous dog.  Yes, the dog may no longer be shy of the new owner but other people and environmental factors may continue to make the dog nervous.

As for thriving in an adult household, this suggests a possible issue with children.  Many questions arise here: what are the issues, with what ages of children do these issues exist, and to what severity do the issues exist?

Spot is very friendly to all people and although he loves to play with her other puppy pals, he would be best in home by himself.

Having a dog that is friendly to all people is huge asset and a great quality to look for when adopting a dog.  The description mentions that Spot loves to play with other dogs but should be placed in a home with no other pets.  If he plays with other dogs, why would they suggest he be the only pet?  My best guess here is that he is a possible resource guarder or has some prey drive towards cats.

This peppy girl would do best with older children though, as she prefer alone time while snacking.

Peppy can often times be code for high energy or flat out crazy!  There is nothing wrong with these qualities but just make sure that your family and household can meet the physical requirements that she may have (sounds great if you’re looking for a running buddy).

Although children are mentioned here, it sounds like more of a resource guarding issue than a children issue.  I’m guessing they are suggesting older children so that the entire family can properly avoid situations and manage the resource guarding so that no one gets hurt.  Keep in mind, the same education/management will need to go beyond the older children and has to cover guests, friends, pet sitters, vet staff, strangers, and everyone else that may come into contact with the dog, both inside the home and away from home.

Rover is eager for lots of other training and would be happiest with an active family where he can be the only baby. 

Alright, try the one above on your own.  What are some of the take aways you get from this one?

When looking around at dogs in shelters, Craig’s List, or various adoption sites you should be asking tons of questions to help find the best possible match for you, your lifestyle, and your family.

We share this information with you, not to encourage you to pass over certain dogs, but because we feel that adopting the right dog is the best possible outcome for you, your family, and the dogs.  Even when making the best choice, please remember that all dogs need training, structure, boundaries, and exercise (both physical and mental).  If you live in the Austin area and would like to learn more about how to make your dog the best dog ever, we can help!

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