German Shepherd Home
Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#4963 - 02/20/10 01:10 PM Questions to ask a rescue before adopting
shepnterrier Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/13/10
Posts: 2032
Loc: MA
Likes: 79
An adhoc list of question to ask a rescue organization.
The goal is to find out how well the organization knows their dogs behaviorally and medically before placing them.

Questions to ask and procedures to look for:

About the organization:
How long have they been in operation? How many dogs have they placed? What support do they offer if you have questions about your adopted dog?
What is their procedure if an adoption doesn't work out? Do they stand by their dogs and take them back?
Spay/neuter policy?

Foster care:
How long has this dog been in foster care?
How many other dogs (foster and resident) are in the foster home?
Is the foster dog living in the house with the foster family or is it kenneled or otherwise kept outside on the foster family's property?
Are the dogs vet checked, tested and treated for parasites and diseases before socializing with other animals in the foster home?

Life History:
If the dog's age matters to you: Who assessed the dog's age, and on what basis?

Medical profile:
Has the dog been thoroughly vet checked and has a clean bill of health? Been treated for anything? You can request a look at the dog's vet records before adopting.

Training:
Does the dog have any training? What are her/his training needs?

Behavioral profile:
How does the organization test for behavioral issues? Once you are approved for adoption, can you talk to both the foster and the volunteer who first assessed the dog at the shelter?

A good rescue assesses at least these behaviors:

- Friendliness and sociability, with women AND men, behavior when seeing small children
- Energy level and need for physical/mental stimulation
- Level of confidence, insecurity, or fear. What is the dog's behavior in situations new to the dog, its response to startling stimuli?
- Ability to calm down after having been aroused or startled
- Response to being handled and being appropriately restrained
- Food aggression and resource guarding with people / with other animals?
- Behavior towards other dogs in various situations (in home, outside, on/off leash), and different dogs (large/small, same and opposite sex)
- If you already have a dog: What is the dog's play style, and is it compatible with your dog's?
- Level of prey drive, eye or nose driven
- If you have cats, or board your dog at a farm with cats: Behavior around moving (not just caged) cats.

Sue Sternberg's "Successful Dog Adoption' is an excellent in depth guide for adopters.

Please feel free to discuss/add. Based on my experience as an behavioral evaluator, foster, and adopter of GSDs and mixed breeds.

Glad to provide my credentials/references if needed.

Sarah
_________________________
Sarah
Chip vom Dog Pound, border terrior, Director of Rodent Control, CGC
Elly von Rescue, GSD, CGC, HI(C)
Captain Jack, Mama Blue, Little Orca, Bübchen, Tux, Cherub (pocket lions)


Top Likes: 0 
#4984 - 02/20/10 01:56 PM Re: Questions to ask a rescue before adopting [Re: shepnterrier]
shepnterrier Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/13/10
Posts: 2032
Loc: MA
Likes: 79
I wish to add that this list is not intended to be 'all or nothing'. Rather, to help an adopter sound out the realm of the unknown, and to ask her/himself whether they have the support and resources if problems arise.
Many a great dog has been adopted without knowing any of these things before. But also adoptions fail when adopters are in for more surprises than they want to handle, or that their situation allows them to handle.
Also, an adoption fee of 200 to 400 $ for a dog from a foster based rescue organization, as opposed to adopting a dog directly from the pound or from CL ('free to a good home'), should be justified by services the organization provided to the dog.
But if you fall in love with a dog, and you are sure you can and have the resources to handle surprises, who would want to be in the way?!

Top Likes: 0 
#160964 - 06/11/11 09:42 AM Re: Questions to ask a rescue before adopting [Re: shepnterrier]
shepnterrier Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/13/10
Posts: 2032
Loc: MA
Likes: 79
bump
_________________________
Sarah
Chip vom Dog Pound, border terrior, Director of Rodent Control, CGC
Elly von Rescue, GSD, CGC, HI(C)
Captain Jack, Mama Blue, Little Orca, Bübchen, Tux, Cherub (pocket lions)


Top Likes: 0 
#161963 - 06/16/11 12:36 PM Re: Questions to ask a rescue before adopting [Re: shepnterrier]
Virginia Offline
Member

Registered: 03/12/10
Posts: 99
Loc: Baltimore, MD
Likes: 0
Good thread. Some other questions I would have are:

- If the dog is in a foster home, can the adopter still keep in contact with the foster if there are questions or concerns?
- Fears? (Thunderstorms, loud noises, children, etc.)
- If in a foster home, what is the dog's routine in that foster home? (Morning activities, evening activities, bedtime, feeding schedule, etc.) I know that I personally (as a foster home) would prefer that an adopter follow my schedule and gradually wean the dog off of it over time
- Biddability, because I enjoy working with my dogs in many different venues. Also, I find that dogs that are more biddable and in tune with handlers are easier to manage when it comes to problem behaviors. For example, cat chasing by a prey driven dog is easier to curb if the dog genuinely wants to work with and please the handler.
- What motivates the dog? Food? Toys? Praise? Which is the most effective?

I would also ask for specific details and elaboration on things (because I am nit-picky and anal about every little detail). Example: if the rescue/shelter says the dog is good with cats (can you tell I have a cat??), what exactly does that mean? What behaviors does the dog show when presented with a moving cat? Sniffs and leaves it alone? Ignores it altogether? Watches closely but can be redirected? Stares at it unrelentingly with a stiff posture? Wants to chase but not harm? I've found that everyone has a different definition of what "good with cats" mean, and that what I feel is acceptable is probably not acceptable with others, and vice versa.

Top Likes: 0 
#161966 - 06/16/11 01:21 PM Re: Questions to ask a rescue before adopting [Re: Virginia]
Remo Offline
Member

Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 143
Likes: 22
Cats are tricky because a LOT depends on the cat. I once had a foster who would snuggle up with my cat on the couch. Some folks wanted to adopt him because he was so good with MY cat. When he went to their house, their cat was terrified and blew up like a pufferfish and ran. He chased and injured the cat. It was my own stupid fault for letting him off the leash in their house. That was a costly lesson for me and the rescue. We now keep our dogs on the leash if there are other animals in a prospective home. I just placed a dog who was terrified of cats. It took her a couple of weeks to get used to living with the cats. She and one of the cats now take turns grooming each other!

Top Likes: 0 
#161985 - 06/16/11 02:41 PM Re: Questions to ask a rescue before adopting [Re: Remo]
Virginia Offline
Member

Registered: 03/12/10
Posts: 99
Loc: Baltimore, MD
Likes: 0
That's true, some cats are more dog savvy than others. Some know to stay still and hiss and growl when a dog is approaching, and others are more skittish and will run, so of course most dogs will want to chase. I think any potential adopter with a cat should be honest with themselves about the nature and personality of a cat. Has the cat ever lived with a dog? Has it come in contact with or seen a dog? What was the reaction? It's a mistake to assume that your cat will be fine and stand its ground with a strange dog, and let them interact without restraint, even if the cat does well with other dogs. My own cat is a great example of this, she has lived with a high prey drive Dutchie/GSD mix (that has killed multiple prey animals in the past and would definitely kill an outside cat if he were able to catch it) and for the past 3 years with no problem, they will snuggle and sleep next to each other often. But bring in a dog that she doesn't know, and she will run and hide, even though she previously learned that the best thing to do is to stand her ground and go on the offensive when necessary.

Similarly, the dog factors in too. You can have a dog that is okay with "its" cats that it cohabitates with, but want to kill outside strays. For that reason, I think any adopter should keep the newcomer on a leash for the first few days to gauge the dog's reaction to other animals in the house and behavior before the dog can be trusted to roam around, even if there is supervision. Furthermore, why I think going through a rescue that has foster homes is a good idea, because you can really get a good reading of the dog's personality instead of relying on a 30 minute temp test of an animal that's probably already stressed or confused.

Top Likes: 0 
#162380 - 06/18/11 02:15 PM Re: Questions to ask a rescue before adopting [Re: shepnterrier]
shepnterrier Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/13/10
Posts: 2032
Loc: MA
Likes: 79
Originally Posted By: shepnterrier

- If you have cats, or board your dog at a farm with cats: Behavior around moving (not just caged) cats.
Sarah

Yep, always ask for a description of behavior. And, oh, aren't cats tricky!

I remember that lovely GSD mix from a rural vet clinic/pound where he had been for many weeks. Staff was kind and knew him well. I assessed him, incl. behavior around a moving cat. The office cat was moving about us, close to us, teased him: He ignored her completely. I pulled him. Of course I kept him on leash when I brought him home.

Upon seeing my cats he lunged full force. 'Course he couldn't get near them, he was leashed. Six of them ran, one did the Halloween Cat act, and then slowly retreated. Same difference in his response. None of my cats would strike.

I figured the cat at the clinic/pound must have taught him a lesson at some point. I called the staff and asked. Yes, they said, the cat had given him a good whack when they first met, and he had learned his lesson. And don't all cats teach them a lesson? Not mine, sigh.

I kept him separate from my cats (one of them disabled, so no cat chasing ever allowed) and found him a wonderful cat free home. A few months ago his adopters told me they had taken him to a visit to a home with a cat. The cat whacked him well when he hassled her, and he left her alone right away after that.

Since then when I assess I always ask about previous interactions between the test cat and the dog. If known. In any case, as Remo already said, it is crucial to always securely leash the new dog and keep them at a good distance when s/he meets the resident cat, no matter how the dog or the cat behaved with others before.
_________________________
Sarah
Chip vom Dog Pound, border terrior, Director of Rodent Control, CGC
Elly von Rescue, GSD, CGC, HI(C)
Captain Jack, Mama Blue, Little Orca, Bübchen, Tux, Cherub (pocket lions)


Top Likes: 0 
#298542 - 11/01/13 11:54 AM Re: Questions to ask a rescue before adopting [Re: shepnterrier]
shepnterrier Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/13/10
Posts: 2032
Loc: MA
Likes: 79
One thing I ask a rescue these days is not only whether they train, but also how they train, their training philosophy and methods. And if they use a trainer, on what basis they chose her/him, and her/his training philosophy and experience.
_________________________
Sarah
Chip vom Dog Pound, border terrior, Director of Rodent Control, CGC
Elly von Rescue, GSD, CGC, HI(C)
Captain Jack, Mama Blue, Little Orca, Bübchen, Tux, Cherub (pocket lions)


Top Likes: 0 

Monthly Photo Contest Winner
Newest Topics
Excavation
by Woodreb
12/10/17 07:40 PM
First CT Snow
by Woodreb
12/10/17 05:26 PM
Snow dogs.... In North Georgia
by SouthernThistle
12/08/17 01:52 PM
Activated Charcoal for Chronic Pancreatitis?
by Kamahi
12/08/17 01:19 AM
My Dear Shoshi
by Shilohsmom
12/06/17 06:17 PM
Welcome Home Neilla
by Wisc.Tiger_Val
12/06/17 03:02 PM
Odin: he's home and full of sass
by SouthernThistle
12/03/17 03:48 PM
Buddy 04/07/2000 to 11/24/2017
by PositiveDog
12/02/17 08:37 PM
Santa may giving early Christmas Present to us.
by Wisc.Tiger_Val
11/30/17 09:47 AM
How to keep my GSD Maximus calm at K9 class
by Kimbe's 3
11/29/17 02:00 PM
Help Support the Forum
New Topics - Other Animals & Chat
"I CAN:T Believe it happened again"
by Shilohsmom
12/01/17 10:33 PM
Holiday cards
by Shilohsmom
12/01/17 10:20 PM
Holidays in December
by Shilohsmom
11/27/17 11:07 PM
Thanksgiving Plans anyone?
by Shilohsmom
11/18/17 09:51 PM
Resurrected :)
by SouthernThistle
11/08/17 10:34 AM
Who's Online
0 registered (), 34 Guests and 5 Spiders online.
Affiliate Link
Newest Members
Zion, Susan dawn, Po32273, Storm, Jalena4, Lemonfield1, Dysie, Dan Wolf, Kimbe's 3, ElsaMae
2863 Registered Users
Forum Stats
2863 Members
100 Forums
20326 Topics
324454 Posts

Max Online: 137 @ 01/07/16 07:28 PM
Amazon Prooducts