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Finding the right dog for you: Working with animal shelters
Many animal shelters have websites that show the dogs available for adoption-- you might call and find out how often that site is updated. Sometimes they only have the resources to update it once a week so it may not be super current (remember, these organizations are nonprofits dependent on volunteer resources so don't criticize-- volunteer!).

You can find a great list of shelter websites at the Lab Rescue Website. Click here. Thank you to the Lab Rescue folks for maintaining such a great website.

Our show featured Ken White, the President of the Peninsula Humane Society /SPCA. I give him an A+ for vision, common sense, and leadership.

If you rent, be sure to work with your landlord in advance of trying to adopt a dog so you can bring in proof (usually a copy of your lease) that states that you as a renter are authorized to have a pet in your residence.

If you have kids, don't bring them with you to search for a dog-- they'll fall in love with each one they see, and it will be emotionally difficult for all of you. You the adult should first search for a dog based on your own critieria. When you meet a dog that you are SURE you want to adopt, after you've spent at least an hour with it, make an appointment for the rest of your entire family to visit with the dog the next day or so (most shelters will hold a dog for a day for you if they know you are that serious). At that point, see if the dog gets along with the rest of the family. Remember, your kids will love any dog you bring home-- so use adult criteria to choose the new member of your family. Give your children a strong sense of participation by letting them choose the new name, or by letting them choose the leash, the dish, the collar, the color of the ID tag, etc.

 

Finding the right dog for you: Factors to consider if you have kids

More discussions on the question of whether to get a puppy or an adult dog
From the Santa Clara Valley Humane Society
From a Lab Rescue resource...
The virtues of older dogs
Questions you should ask a breeder
Housetraining an older dog

More articles on kids and dogs:
Safety and kids
Kids and dogs- a common sense approach
Resources from one of my favorite websites, dogplay.com
A great article from the Santa Clara Valley Humane Society

Should I plan to have my child be responsible for training the dog? No. That's an adult responsibility. Read why here, in this excerpt from Diane's dog training website.

Q: I want my kids to train my dog, so the dog will respect them. Should I have my son or daughter go through the training?

A: We're going to get your dog to a point where it actually understands the meaning of certain commands. Once it does, you can teach your kids how to give those commands correctly. Most people don't realize the importance of consistency while a dog is learning, and the subtle ways in which a command is given-- one person says the word like a question ("Fluffy, sit?") while the other person says it like an Army sergent ("Fido, SIT!"). These are two completely different (and confusing) experiences to a dog who is learning something new. What you do with your body when you give a command matters a lot, too, and varies from person to person unless great attention is given to it.

I want you, the adult, to learn how to train your dog. Once your dog is well trained, then your kids can learn how to effectively "command" the dog. These are two very different stages. Your kids are very welcome to come watch classes if they are patient enough and old enough to sit quietly and watch for an entire hour. But they won't be participating in the exercises in class, and your attention will need to be focused on the class. We'll be going at a pace that would make it impractical for someone under 18 to try to keep up (classes that incorporate children go much more slowly and cover a lot less material than we'll cover). We'll be able to structure a few of the homework exercises to include children who can assist you with the training-- for example, they might toss the treat on the ground when you click. The timing of the click is very important. The timing of the treat-toss is not. We don't want to make the dog off-limits to the rest of the family! We just want to preserve the training activity so you get the most value from your 8-week class.

If you are having behavior problems between the kids and your dog, let's discuss them and address them. Having the kids train the dog is not necessary to fix those problems. But I do agree that we all want to get to the point of having a well trained dog that obeys both the adults and the children in the household.

If there is enough demand among my students I will offer a special 2-hour seminar you can bring the kids to that will serve as the foundation for enabling them to understand the basic principles of positive reinforcement and consequences we'll use in our training methods.