How to Help a Stray Dog

We’ve talked previously about why it’s a good idea to adopt rescue dogs. What if you happen to chance upon a dog that needs to be rescued? What should you do if you find a stray dog?

Picture this scenario:  You are driving along somewhere and you see a dog all alone and looking very sad and lonely. From the looks of it, the dog is either lost or abandoned. You’d like to help, but you are not entirely sure if that is a good idea or what you should do. Here are some important tips on what you should do to help a stray dog.

Safety First

Always remember that the first rule is to ensure your own safety, that of other people around you, and the dog. Using the example above where you are driving, do not just stop in the middle of the road to check the dog. Park your car in a safe area and check out the dog at a safe distance. Remember that this is a strange dog that might react aggressively if you come too close or make any sudden movement.

The same is true if you are walking your own dog and you find the possible stray. Keep yourself and your dog at a safe distance while you check out the situation.

Make Sure the Dog is a Stray

The next thing you should do is to find out if the dog is actually a stray, and not just a pooch with a taste for adventure. Look around for people nearby who might be the owners or who might who the owners are. If you see a collar, it might just be lost.

On the other hand, if the dog is dirty, weak, sick, or wounded, there is a very big chance that the dog is a bona fide stray, and probably an abandoned one.

Call for Help

Do not attempt to approach the stray yourself. That could be bad for you and the dog. The best thing you can do is to contact the authorities for help. If you have contact information for a local animal rescue or shelter, call them first. If you do not have that information, try calling the local animal control agency or the police instead.

Make sure you give whomever you call the important details about the dog’s condition and your location so they can find your easily and come prepared for the situation.

Keep the Stray at Bay

If you are fairly certain it is harmless, you can try to approach it to keep it from running away while waiting for the authorities to get there. Do it slowly to avoid scaring the dog into bolting, or worse, coming at you. Make sure the dog sees you coming, and maintain a calm manner.

If the dog seems friendly, extend a closed fist so it can smell you. Do not make sudden movements, and talk to it in a low voice to keep it calm. Give the dog some treats if you have any to help in ease the tension.

If you can get close enough, you can try to restrain the dog with a leash or piece of cloth tied around its neck. Secure it enough so that the dog can no longer slip away, but not make sure it is not too tight.

It is probably a bad idea to put the dog into your car, especially if there are other people in the car. You never know how a dog will react to strangers and a strange environment, and travelling with it could be dangerous for you.

If you feel the dog is becoming aggressive, stop and do not try to make any attempts of securing it directly. You can try restraining the dog by creating a barrier around it so that it cannot run away, but wait for the authorities to take care of the situation.

Let the Professionals Take Over

Curb your soft heart and resist the urge to simply take care of the dog yourself. This may be a good idea in some cases, but it is usually better to let the professionals handle the actual rescuing so they can check the dog thoroughly for medical and other problems.

You can keep tabs on the dog if you want, and if it has no owner, you can try to adopt the dog by going through the proper channels. This ensures such a move is in your best interest as well as that of the dog.

It Helps to be Prepared

It is a good idea to be prepared in case you do find a stray dog. Include the contact information of the animal control agency, the police, as well as any animal shelter and rescue organization in your area in your phone book. Keep a dog collar and leash, a water bottle, dry animal treats, and a warm blanket in your car.

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Top Tips When Adopting A Rescue Dog

If you are thinking of adding a new member to your family, adopting a rescue dog could be good path to take. Adopting a rescue benefits not only you and your family, but a dog that badly needs a loving home.

Of course, adopting a rescue dog may also have some pitfalls, but if you go in knowing exactly what to expect, you can avoid the worst of them. Here are some tips when adopting a rescue dog.

Make sure you are ready to adopt

The rescue dogs in shelters are definitely ready for adoption. The question is, are you? The first you need to consider is whether you and your family has the commitment to adopt a rescued dog. This is the first thing you need to ask yourself when thinking of getting a dog, regardless of whether it is a rescue dog or not.

Talk this over with your family and make sure you are all on board with the idea. Having a dog is a big responsibility, and if it is your first pet as a family, you may not realize how big a responsibility it really is.

We suggest that you try fostering a rescue dog first instead of adopting it outright. Think of it as a sort of test run to give you and your family some idea of what you are getting yourselves into before actually committing. It will also help you prepare better for when you do decide to adopt a rescue dog.

Do your research

It always pays to do research and get as much information as possible. This puts you in a better position to make good decisions.

A good place to start is to debunk the misconceptions about rescue dogs. The biggest of these is that rescue dogs are abused or abandoned dogs.  This means it will be very hard and problematic to take care of them.

The truth is, although some rescued dogs were abandoned and abused, most are in shelters for other reasons. Many healthy dogs in shelters, including puppies, come from happy, loving families that just cannot take care of another dog for one reason or another. They send these dogs to shelters in the hopes that others with more resources will adopt and be able enjoy their company.

Aside from researching more about rescue dogs in general, it is also very important to find out as much as you can about the history and background of the dog you plan to adopt. Do not be shy about asking as many questions as you want from the rescue organization, and expect straightforward answers.

Put yourself in their shoes

To better understand how to deal with a rescue dog, try to put yourself in their position. This will make it easier for you to understand their behavior and know how to deal with it.

The first thing you should remind yourself is that you do not know much about them. The shelter may give you some idea about their history or background but for the most part you do not know what kind of personality they have or how they will behave.

Keep in mind that most rescue dogs are scared. It does not matter if they were abandoned, abused or came from a happy family. They have just been transferred to a shelter, an unfamiliar environment where they are people and dogs that are all strangers to them. Before they can get accustomed to this environment, you come along and introduce them to yet another strange environment. This constant change of surroundings is enough to scare any dog. Or most people, for that matter.

Prepare your home

Just as you childproof your home for toddlers, you should dog proof your home for the new arrival.

  • Keep small items that a dog might swallow out of their reach.
  • Make sure there are no loose wires, cables or strings around that they might bite on or chew.
  • Keep chemicals and medicines sealed tight and out of reach.
  • Remove poisonous plants from your home, or at least out of reach.

Give them proper training

Most rescue dogs have been through different surroundings and supervised by different people, so they usually pick up a few bad habits along the way. The good news is dogs easily adapt to new environments, but you should still make sure they do so properly by giving them the right training.

You and your family can do this on your own with a little research. If you feel uneasy doing it yourself, find out from your veterinarian where you can avail of the services of a good dog trainer.

Make sure they are healthy

Most shelters give the dogs under their care regular checkups, but this is usually quite basic. It may not reveal serious or major health problems that a more thorough examination may find. It is best to bring your newly adopted dog to your own veterinarian for a more thorough examination.

Make time for them

The most important consideration for you is time. You need to have quite a bit of this, as well as patience, when you first bring home your scared arescue dog is scared. You must give them time to adjust to you, your family and your home.

They may not warm up to everyone in the family. If this happens, keep that person away initially and gradually allow them to come near. Do the same with other pets as this may also occur if you have other pets.

Give them some space to process their new circumstances. This can be as small as a basket with a pillow or as large as an entire room. This may take some time, so avoid pressuring them and  let them work it out.

For some it will take one to two days for other it could take one to three weeks. Just show them as much love and care you give to the other members of the family and soon they will feel part of the pack. The important thing to remember is for you and the other people in your family to not get frustrated with the situation as they will pick up on your emotions and this will not help in the transition to adapt.

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