Expert trainer Misha Gildenberger wants to encourage people to adopt, not buy dogs. Buying doesn’t guarantee a dog is perfect without proper training, she says, adding that the feeling you get from
adopting is “magical”.
So, you want to have a dog that is cute and well behaved.
Even if you have a lot of money, you can’t buy your perfect dog, believes Bay of Plenty dog trainer Misha Gildenberger of Roma Dog Behavior Academy.
Eighty percent of the dogs she trains for behavior issues are purebreds, and just because you spend $2,000 instead of $100-$300 on a mixed breed, there’s no guarantee the dog will behave the way you want.
Therefore, Gildenberger, who is also a veterinary nurse, says first-time dog owners should prepare themselves and consider getting professional help, as to which dog is best for them.
She would like everyone to consider a rescue dog first, saying that it is “something that saves lives”; and furry parents-to-be should consider “pre-puppy classes,” just like prenatal baby classes, except this time, you can opt out of what’s coming if it makes you break out in a cold sweat.
Teachings include dog psychology; pet-proof your home; what you need to buy: “Forget a $100 fancy bed. It’s going to break it the first night”; required annual leave to settle your fur child into his new home. A weekend is not enough. She suggests a week.
Not getting help can set you up for failure, he says, adding that the demand for dogs is increasing.
“It is important that more education and responsibility is applied.”
The Argentine, who lives in Pāpāmoa, has 10 years of experience as a dog trainer.
Adopting through a rescue center can be a great way to get a taste of dog ownership, and some kennels offer weekend trials, she says.
This is important because relocating an animal if it doesn’t work can cause trauma. However, sometimes repositioning is necessary.
The cost-of-living crisis and the pandemic puppy boom had led to failed adoptions.
Gildenberger gives the example of those who got a puppy during successive lockdowns when working from home, but have since returned to the office for 10 hours a day, leaving their dog home alone and claiming they can’t afford a dog walker. or a nursery. . “What were you thinking?” she asks.
Thanks to the Covid restrictions, more dogs were also being sold without potential owners having a chance to meet the pup and assess the credibility of the breeder.
There has also been an increase in the number of people buying dogs on social media.
“They take the dog home, he’s too active and they don’t have time for that,” he says.
“Four months later, the mother is crying, the children are not helping, and the dog has destroyed the backyard.”
Gildenberger ran a dog rescue in Argentina for 10 years before moving to New Zealand four years ago with his own rescue dog, Roma.
The time, effort and money animal rescuers invest in animals before adopting them means they refuse to let them go to a home that isn’t suitable, he says, which means some rescue apps can seem invasive, but It’s for the good of the dog.
Everyone should consider a pound or rescue dog, rather than buying from a breeder, he believes, saying “thousands” are put to sleep in New Zealand each year because shelters are overrun and many dogs are considered “hard cases.” .
“The rescue centers are also full, so the whole situation with the dogs is miserable.
“It’s up to the public to take on one of these dogs and spend time with them to save their lives.”
‘She’s a SPCA Special’
When Gail Elliott saw her dog Ruby on the Humane Society website, she knew there was only one way to identify her breed: a DNA test.
Found marooned on Matakana Island with two five-week-old sisters, Ruby’s genes showed she was “whippet, English Staffy, American Staffy, American and English bulldog”.
“She’s a SPCA special,” she says.
“I had a thoroughbred before her, a West Highland Terrier named Alfie, and thoroughbreds, a lot of them are fine, and most breeders are great, but they do tend to have health problems. I’m not saying your the old dog stray won’t, but it seems like they’re less likely to.
“And, if you want to give a dog a life, a home and some love, to me, it shouldn’t matter what it is.”
save a life
Abandoned dogs in need of homes are found in forests, parks and playgrounds, says the nonprofit organization Rescue, Revive, Rehome (RRR).
He has 50 dogs in his care and with a non-euthanasia policy, he closed his doors when it overflowed, attending only to emergency cases.
Despite people’s best intentions, life situations can change and few owners allow dogs, meaning more require new homes, says RRR Canine Team Leader Ronnie McAllum.
Overall, though, fewer dogs are being euthanized, says Rotorua animal control team leader Arana Waaka-Stockman.
When he started in office seven years ago, between 900 and 1,000 dogs a year were euthanized at the kennel, now there are around 200.
Dogs are euthanized if they cannot be relocated and there are many reasons including aggression. Rotorua Lakes Council relocates 130 to 150 dogs a year.
With 50 dogs in the kennel at press time (15 up for adoption), it takes a long time to cover dog welfare, let alone try to rehabilitate them too, he says.
At Tauranga SPCA, center manager Andrea Crompton says the dogs are not euthanized, with the average stay from August 2021 to August 2022 being 38 days before adoption.
Unfortunately, orphaned dogs are on the rise because people don’t want to or can’t afford to neuter their animals.
Animal cruelty is also a sad reality for rescues, says Katrina Thompson of Vada’s Angels.
She has had a blind dog in her care for two years.
Next year, Gildenberger plans to launch a free online training course for anyone in New Zealand who adopts a dog rescued from a shelter.
Amy Ellis of Pāpāmoa has had three adopted rescues: Ziggy, a Boxer and Staffy cross, 4, Boom Boom, a Beardie-Catahoula cross, 2, and Ru, an unknown mix who recently died.
It’s her first time as a dog mom and her advice when choosing a dog is “don’t adopt him because of his looks.”
Instead, match the dog with your home and lifestyle.
“Be realistic about what will be manageable for you and your family. For example, Booms is a working breed, he could never be a one-walk-a-day dog; he needs mental and physical stimulation every day.”
His other must-have tips are to secure the dog from day one and invest in dog training.
“The more effort I put into understanding my dogs and knowing how to communicate properly, ultimately the better our dogs are. It’s a long-term investment.”
Finally, don’t assume that a puppy will be easier than adopting an older dog.
“Any dog, puppy or older, will need a lot of your time.”
And while it can be difficult to change or improve existing behaviors, it’s not impossible, says Gildenberger.
‘Do your research, get help’
A good shelter or rescue kennel will ask you detailed questions, and you, in turn, should do the same.
“You should ask about the dog’s energy level, temperament, personality, his full size when he grows up, behavioral issues, how he is with others, with noise, his health, have they been rehoused before? The whole story for have a complete picture before committing,” says Gildenberger.
“You can also ask the rescue about their return policy. Do they have training classes for hard cases?”
Most rescue dogs come vaccinated, microchipped and neutered.
Do your research, get help and adopt a dog that really needs it: “Saving a life is a wonderful feeling.
“It’s magical, beautiful and you feel like a hero.
“Thinking that the dog you have comes from a horrible past and could have had a terrible fate, but you provided him with that beautiful home; a family.”
# Visit these Facebook pages for more information
Rotorua Pound – Homeless Hounds
Angels of Vada Tauranga Animal Rescue
RRR – Rest Live Rescue – Bay of Plenty
Dog Behavior Academy Rome