That morning, I’d arrived at the breeder’s facility to choose and purchase my first puppy. After spending time with the entire litter, there was one puppy that had chosen me. Of all the dogs, she was the one. When I exited the pen, I told the breeder which puppy it was. He confirmed which one I pointed to, we did the paperwork, got my pup and breeders puppy pack, and took her home. But, as we left, I wondered if I had pointed out the right one to him. I should have trusted my gut.
This was the wrong puppy, however. She took an instant dislike to my grandmother. She growled and wouldn’t let the vet handle her, and the vet recommended that I exchange the puppy for a different one. That’s what I did. The breeder wasn’t happy about it, but I identified the same pup I wanted originally, and she turned out to be the best dog I’ve ever owned. Lesson learned.
Years later, I worked with a student and helped her find a breeder. I told the breeder what kind of puppy she should have. But the puppy that arrived wasn’t the type of puppy she had hoped for. In a similar way, this puppy didn’t trust anyone, was growling at everyone, and was fearful by nature. I had to tell my student the truth, which broke her heart. I saved her a lot of future heartache, but it was the right thing for me to do and was best for her. The puppy was returned to the breeder.
Can you pick the wrong dog? Of course you can. Not all dogs are the right fit for your home. Sometimes it is a result of having unreasonable and sometimes silly expectations. Sometimes it is because the dog you met turned out differently once it was in your home. Sometimes the dog that works for you won’t work for the rest of your family. There are many reasons why a dog might not work out.
My first rule these days is to “trust but verify.” You need to spend some time with that dog and get to know it pretty well. If the dog is a particular breed, you need to do some in depth research, and that can include getting good advice from a trainer, veterinarian, the breeder, and information gleaned from authoritative sources. Believe what you see, not just what people tell you. My second rule is to try and predict what kind of life you will be able to provide your dog over the next 10 years. If you can assure sufficient training, social time, play, stability and resources, then that works in your favor. If the time isn’t yet right, then now isn’t the time to take in a dog that you are eventually going to have to give away.
You can do all the right things and still get a dog that won’t work out for you home. For all the online critics who will condemn you if you have to rehome the dog, not one of those blabbermouths will step up and adopt that dog from you. You will only feel good about what to do as long as the new home will fully meet your dog’s needs. Rehoming a dog should be rare, not something done frivolously. Rehoming can be harsh on a dog, and potentially catastrophic if the new owner neglects or abuses your dog.
Do all you can to get the right dog, at the beginning, so that you never have to rehome your dog