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Tips on Dog Selection and Ownership

We want to help you with the transition of settling your dog into its new home. With our volunteer base and our combined experience, we can help with most situations. Don’t wait until you’ve become overly frustrated with yourself or the dog to contact us.

We will always be here to help! Please email us or contact the foster or coordinator you worked with.

Selecting Your New Dog

The first step in finding the right dog for you or your family is to look over our web site and review the biography on each of the dogs we have available. Once you have come up with your list of prospects, contact the representative you have been working with and request the contact information of the persons fostering the dogs you want to visit. You will be provided their email addresses and you should contact each of them to set up a time convenient for both of you that you can meet the dog.

We always recommend that you visit at least two dogs before making your final decision. But we also know that many times, there is no doubt in your mind and heart that the first dog you meet may be “the one.” The decision about which dog is the best match for you and your family will be a decision you and the foster will make together. If the foster has any reservations about the match, we ask that you respect their knowledge of the dog’s personality and temperament and their insight should they believe the dog not be a good choice for you.

Remember, when you adopt a dog, it becomes YOURS! Your responsibility to care for it, love it, address any behavior problems, train it, and see to its veterinary needs does not end until the dog dies. Your circumstances may change (new cat, new baby, move, whatever!), but your dog will always depend on YOU to take care of it. Your dog will have no one else, so please select your dog with care. Select it with the FULL expectation that you are responsible for the life and well-being of this animal for the rest of its life, even if your dog isn’t perfect!

When you visit each dog, here are a few things you might ask the foster:

Once you and the foster have decided that it is a great match for you and your family, the foster will have the adoption agreement for you to read carefully and sign. The foster will sign the agreement and accept your check or money order for the adoption donation and forward the agreement and check to the appropriate AGSDR representative.

A copy of your adoption contract, vet records, microchip registration, and any other information we have about your new dog will be sent to you by EMAIL after your signed agreement and payment have been processed.

Before You Bring Your New Dog Home

Please bring a collar, leash, and ID tag with you when you pick up your dog!

Crate: Consider bringing along a dog crate when you get your dog. At the very least, ask how he travels beforehand. Why start off the dog's first day with him getting ill in the car? Crates are much easier to clean!

Fence: Even though we conducted a home visit, PLEASE take the time to walk your fence line and make sure there are no missing or loose boards or gaps between the ground and the fence. You will be amazed at what a large dog can get through or under with determination. And even a small gap can entice a dog to dig, especially if you have dogs next door or a path frequented by people walking by. Remember...many things can become more interesting than being alone in a yard, so FOR THE FIRST SEVERAL WEEKS...DO NOT LEAVE YOUR NEW DOG ALONE IN THE BACKYARD without supervision.

Items you should purchase before your new dog comes home:

Questions you might ask when picking up your new dog are:

  1. What food is the dog currently on?
  2. How many times per day does the dog eat?
  3. How much per feeding does the dog eat?
  4. When is the dog due for its next heartworm preventative pill?
  5. When is the dog due for its next flea/tick protection?
  6. What brand of flea/tick protection has the foster been using?
  7. Are there any known allergies?
  8. How does the dog respond to grooming?
  9. What toys/bones does the dog enjoy most?

The Adjustment Period

Please be prepared to have an adjustment period when you introduce your new dog to your home and family members (human and furry). Remember, this is a whole new world for your GSD. Be Patient!

Dogs love routine—give them one! When the dog begins to understand the routine and surroundings, it develops trust and most negative adjustment behaviors will begin to change. The length of the adjustment periods will depend on you, your home environment, and the personality of the dog. It can range from a few days to a few weeks. Just give it time…that’s all it takes!

To help you with this issue, please read adjustment period for what you can expect and how to deal with it.

Interaction and Socialization

GSD's are highly intelligent, and thrive on human contact. If you don't make your GSD a part of the family and ongoing interaction, you will not have a well-behaved GSD. Talk to your dog. Show it affection and approval when it is doing the right thing…or just not doing the wrong thing! Make most of the house dog-friendly, and expect your dog to follow you around the house. Have as much interaction with the dog as possible.

A bored GSD can be destructive. Provide your dog with daily attention, interaction, and exercise to occupy and tire his mind and body.

It is EXTREMELY important to socialize your dog, regardless of age. A socialized dog is a calmer, more accepting dog. After you've given him a week or two to settle in to his new home, take your dog with you as often as you can—trips to buy pet food, hiking, the park (ALWAYS ON LEASH!), family gatherings, and quick errands to any store that will allow your dog access.

Teach others to always ask permission before petting your dog. Some dog are more social than others and there is no rule that says they must allow strangers to pet them. As long as they're well behaved in public, that's all you need to ask of them. We do not recommend "dog parks" as a way of socializing your dog. There are too many risks involved, since there is no way to know the training or socialization level of other dogs there. And remember… no one likes a “bratty” dog any more than they like a “bratty” child.

For more on socialization, please read Socialization on the Resources section of our web site.

Your Dog’s Identification Information

Your dog has had a microchip inserted. We currently use HomeAgain microchips. Immediately after adopting your dog, please send an email to us with your contact info. We will add your info to the registration info at Home Again. If at any time your contact information or your vet information changes, notify us immediately so we can update the information at Home Again. We always remain the primary contact on dogs we adopt out. This is so that we can ensure that even if people move and forget to update the information for the dog’s ID, the dog will not be accidentally euthanized.

For more information, please see microchips.

It is also important to keep regular ID tags on a flat collar on your dog at all times. For info on why this can be important, see "ID Tags."

Your Dog’s Health

There are a number of health issues discussed on the Resources section of our web site. Only a few are covered here.

As your dog's new guardian, it is your responsibility to ensure that your dog stays healthy. Doing so requires providing:

Your Dog’s Training

Housetraining: Our dogs were house dogs as fosters, and generally come housetrained. Not always completely reliably…it depends on how much time they were in a foster home, what their past was (never housetrained, badly housetrained, etc.), and even what their health was when they came to us.

We adopt them to homes that have agreed, as you have, to have them as indoor companions. If you are having any problems with housetraining, please see "housetraining" and read the links provided there also. If you still have any questions or concerns, please contact us (see below under "AGSDR's Commitment to You and Your Dog" for contact info).

Obedience Training: We highly recommend that you take your new dog to obedience classes and have the entire family attend if possible. Please see "obedience training" for a discussion of this issue and its importance to you and your new dog. Also, please see "leadership" for a discussion of the importance of establishing your human family as leaders of the pack for your new dog (and your others if you have them)!

Crate Training: We highly recommend crate training your dog. In fact, we will likely have started this training for you. Done properly, many if not most dogs learn to think of their crate as “their pad” and will use it when they feel stressed or tired.

Crate training serves the initial purpose of being able to contain a new dog (whose behavior is unknown) when you are unable to monitor it or to contain a dog while housetraining it. But crate training has benefits well beyond these initial uses. Crates provide a dog with a mobile dog house of sorts…a mobile “safe place.” This is especially important if your dog is under stress due to travel or moving.

Crates also provide a mobile form of containment for various situations such as travel, injuries which require limited mobility, or accidents where your dog has gotten muddy or rolled in the dead frog they found so enticing (locking them away until you are able to bathe them sure beats them deciding the couch would smell really cool if it had the enticing odor of dead frog too!).

If you’ve never given crate training a try, now is the time to start. Sooner or later, you’ll wish you had! Having the dog learn under pleasant circumstances sure beats them being even more stressed during a potentially already stressful time when you suddenly find it necessary.

Please see Crate Training for more specific info on why this is a good idea and how to go about it.

AGSDR's Commitment to You and Your Dog

ANY TIME an issue comes up…you’re not sure about a trainers approach, you have general questions, or you just want to give us an update (we LOVE hearing from all of our families!)…please NEVER hesitate to contact us.

Just as you have done for the rescued German Shepherd Dog you adopted, we have made a lifelong commitment to these dogs. We will always be here to help!

Contact the person who was fostering your dog, the adoption coordinator you worked with, or email us here.



Last Update : 02/14/2016
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