Adopting an adult dog

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guitarguy
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Adopting an adult dog

Post by guitarguy » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 pm

We're potentially going to adopt a 2.5 y/o German Shepherd, and I just wondered what the consensus was on this, having never taken in a new dog that was older than 10 weeks. I'm hoping for advice on what to consider, and also opinions on if we 'should' do it.

First some details, we're not unfamiliar with shepherds...we recently lost our GSD Marshall in May. He was only 4 years old and we were very shocked at losing him so suddenly. We do have another little 3 y/o mutt who is extrememly well behaved and very friendly with other dogs and kids. We are somewhat content with having just the one dog, but we also miss having an active and athletic dog as a counterpart to our lazy and mellow little fella. We were planning on waiting a while to get another dog, but an opportunity arose and we're considering it.

Through facebook, I saw that a girl I went to high school with's Dad wants/needs to give up his GSD because he doesn't have the time/energy/agility to deal with a dog like that. Having raised a shepherd once, I understand where he's coming from...they are indeed rather high maintenance dogs as they need lots of activity and training to keep their mind active. Supposedly this dog is great with kids and other dogs, is housebroken, and is neutered and up-to-date on all shots. We're meeting the dog tomorrow to at least see where things go. The only thing she said (behavior wise) is that he's submissive. I don't know how submissive or if it's so much to the point that it's an issue...we'll know after meeting him I suppose. They don't want any fee for taking him...just a good home.

Here are some questions I'm planning on asking (this is the part that surrounds adopting an adult dog). I know a fair amount about the breed already so my questions will pertain to this specific dog.

1. When did he get the dog, what's his history, and do they have any knowledge of his lineage? Any history of medical problems?
2. Does he have any known behavior problems or issues (anything from barking or chewing to dominance, aggression, or separation anxiety)?
3. Is he crate/leash trained? Has he ever had obedience training and/or used any type of training collar?

Anything else I should think about? I'm sure there are more...

The second part of my concern is if we 'should' do this if all of the above checks out. Our current dog is very mellow and requires little no maintenance. He just wants to relax all day, play for a few minutes, eat, and nap. He's nearly the perfect dog for a busy family. There is part of me that loves having this type of dog. But, I also really miss having an active and athletic dog that likes to walk, run, hike, rollerblade, play frisbee (all things I did with my previous GSD).

Now for the concerns...my wife and I both work 9-5 type jobs (basically zero overtime), I am starting grad school in Sept (2 nights per week), I also work part time as a musician on weekend nights, and we're currently trying to have a baby. I know, right? :shock: Because of how busy our lives are, part of me isn't sure whether or not we should take this new challenge on. Before when we had the 2 dogs, we didn't see an issue with keeping up with an active dog with all the extra stuff piled on top. We weren't worried about it at all...we were used to the lifestyle. But now we've gotten used to and are somewhat content with just the one low maintenance dog. We're really weighing on how much we miss that lifestyle (which obviously also has the HUGE benefit of keeping us physically active!) vs. the thought of procuring a little less responsibility to have on our hands through the coming years.

I guess we'll start by meeting Mr. Walter tomorrow morning. If we meet and things go well, and we introduce him to our current dog and things go well, then we'll have some thinking to do.

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by THY4373 » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:17 pm

My wife and I have adopted a lot of rescue cats in our time. While a lot is not common a couple of suggestions I"d make. One I'd pay to get the dog evaluated by your vet before you commit to adoption. Just so you know what you are getting into. I have done this with some but not all of the cats we considered/adopted. One was diagnosed with a heart defect, my wife and I liked him so we kept him but at least we knew going in we were on the hook for $1000 for a kitty cardiologist yearly + his life expectancy was less than a normal cat but he is a wonderful cat so worth it to us. Another cat we considered had "megacolon" which means they have difficultly knowing when to defecate which leads to issues with things coming out when they should not . That was something we could not deal with so we did not adopt him even though he was a sweetie. The rest of our adopted cats (rescue or otherwise) have been healthy and fine cats. I also suggest is that you research how to introduce new animals to existing animals so you know how to do it right. That can make or break the adoption. Maybe dogs are easier than cats who are more loners, I don't know. I have had great success introduction new cats mostly by following guidelines found on line. Finally I'd consider negotiating some sort of "give back" time frame if things don't work out. Most rescues will give you this and in fact insist you return the animal to them at anytime you no longer want it. Again I have great success in introducing new cats so I have never had to give back one I adopted.

As for having time for an animal that is a tough one. They are a burden and a joy. Only you can figure out where that balance plays out for you. My wife and I work from home so we are always around. I would like to have no animals for a period of time after I retire in 15 years so my wife and I can live a bit of a nomadic existence for a while.

ThatGuy
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by ThatGuy » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:26 pm

First off, THANK YOU for considering adopting an adult dog.

I rescued my current German Shepherd when she was about two years old, however the organization did not have her history so I'm unsure of her exact age. Two was just a guess by the vet.

That you already have experience with GSDs is a plus, but every dog is different. You won't get a good sense of the personality of this dog for at least six months. GSDs are notoriously family oriented, and they tend to freak out when broken off from their pack. My dog is extremely submissive, but she did not listen well to me at first because there was no trust, combined with being put into an unfamiliar environment with an unfamiliar pack leader. It takes time, more time, and love to build up that trust.

You are correct in that GSDs do best when they are exercised. They tend to just lay around when no one is around, but really need some activity to maintain a good personality. You already have a dog, and so hopefully they'll play a bit on their own. With your busy schedule it's imperative that you can make an appointment every single day to exercise the new dog. The only time mine gets in trouble is when I've been neglectful. But it's important to recognize that GSDs need people, and attention, perhaps more than 99% of other breeds.

Kids, I wouldn't worry about. Obviously keep an eye out when the kid can't run around, but once again, they're notoriously family oriented and tend to be great with kids.

Health issues are important, in particular hip dysplasia if this is a purebred, but honestly, you probably won't ever get a hint of problems before they happen either from the young age or from the previous owner.
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FlyHi
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by FlyHi » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:42 pm

I am a former German Shepherd breeder & exhibitor. I recently bought an 11 month old male shepherd show dog. My partner is on the board of a Greyhound rescue club. Between us we have 5 adult dogs: 2 4 year old Greyhounds, 1 5 year old Chiuahua, 1 German shepherd Dog and a 12 1/2 year old Corgi.

As a dog owner you should be able to ge a good sense of the dog when you go to see him. You can then determine if the dog is "submissive" or "shy". A GSD should not be submissive. The following is quoted from the German Sheepherd Dog standard:

"Temperament
The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them."

A shy dog is not trustworthy as you don't know what it will do if frightened.

My Shepherd is now 13 months old and is still very puppylike but at age 2 a dog should be more settled. If you have a large fenced in back yard your dog will be able to get enough exercise if he is an active dog. We do have a large yard for out dogs to run and I try to take my Shepherd for a long walk as often as the weather permits, during the walk I also do show ring and obedience training.

I think you are taking the right approach by introducing the Shepherd to your dog. Good luck and let us know what happened.
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JMacDonald
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by JMacDonald » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:46 pm

Hi,
This story won't help you with your concerns, but it is a nice story about a German shepherd that I wanted to share it:

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/12 ... o-20120713
Best Wishes, | Joe

retiredjg
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by retiredjg » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:47 pm

We were planning on waiting a while to get another dog, but an opportunity arose and we're considering it.

Sometimes people go out and intentionally get a dog. It does not seem you were at that point because you are still enjoying the lack of the extra responsibility.

But sometimes the dog just shows up in your life. Hmmm....now that is a different story. If there were not some amount of "readiness" in you, you would have already said no.

If you ever plan to get another GSD, this could be the one. Think back to what you know about puppies. A puppy is a natural born terrorist. How would a puppy fit into a 9 - 5, grad-school-at-night, might-have-a-baby family? Nah....the right time may never arrive.

In the final analysis, since you obviously have some amount of readiness going on, it will probably boil down to how you feel about the dog after you meet him. So just meet the dog and then ponder it a few days. Answers have a way of appearing if you don't push too hard.

I hope to have another GSD in my life someday too!

pellep
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by pellep » Fri Jul 20, 2012 1:02 pm

I'd also suggest a vet vist (if his personality works out for you).

There's lots of medical issues we can identify with a physical exam. Kind of like having you mechanic check out a used car before you buy...

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verbose
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by verbose » Fri Jul 20, 2012 1:37 pm

We adopted a five year old Labrador Retriever as our first dog. She was already trained and socialized (including kids and cats), though we had no idea. Being a typical Lab, she adjusted to our family within 24 hours. She has never chewed up our possessions. Until she reached age 12, we didn't have any toileting issues either. Currently dealing with old age issues, but she's been a great pet.

guitarguy
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by guitarguy » Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:05 pm

retiredjg wrote:
We were planning on waiting a while to get another dog, but an opportunity arose and we're considering it.

Sometimes people go out and intentionally get a dog. It does not seem you were at that point because you are still enjoying the lack of the extra responsibility.

But sometimes the dog just shows up in your life. Hmmm....now that is a different story. If there were not some amount of "readiness" in you, you would have already said no.

If you ever plan to get another GSD, this could be the one. Think back to what you know about puppies. A puppy is a natural born terrorist. How would a puppy fit into a 9 - 5, grad-school-at-night, might-have-a-baby family? Nah....the right time may never arrive.

In the final analysis, since you obviously have some amount of readiness going on, it will probably boil down to how you feel about the dog after you meet him. So just meet the dog and then ponder it a few days. Answers have a way of appearing if you don't push too hard.

I hope to have another GSD in my life someday too!


This is a very insightful post. :)

Truth be told, I wasn't sure when I'd be 'ready' to get another dog. When we lost our GSD Marshall in May it was very devastating. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. We know it'll happen eventually though...we loved having 2 dogs...and I really enjoy being active with dogs and our little squirt just doesn't fit the bill for that. My wife really does want another puppy, but a puppy at this point would be a definite no from me. We're just too busy! I'm expecting that an adult dog will adjust quicker, learn the ropes and will get to the point where 24/7 supervision isn't necessary a lot quicker than a puppy. This, combined with the fact that this dog is potentially falling into our laps is the reason we're considering it.

One thing I have to pay strict attention to though is that my wife and I are dog lovers, and I know once we meet this dog...unless he turns out to be some kind of nightmare...we're going to want to take him. My wife especially has such a big heart she's going to want him as soon as she sees him! But we really have to be strong and pay attention to temperament and whether it'll be a good fit for all involved. Objectively, I really don't think we have the time to correct any major issues if he has any. I'm a pretty avid dog trainer and have helped a few dogs overcome minor issues...and these things take time. That, at least right now, we don't have much extra. Not enough to work on major issues above and beyond normal activity/training and care. If he turns out to be a good fit though, we'll be so excited to give him a good home and definitely a fulfilling life. And I can get off the couch with a new running partner!

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by auntie » Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:16 pm

Adult dogs usually adapt easily to a new home and family. My experience as a foster mom for many adult labs was that you don't really get to know the dog the first few days. We always foster them in a home for a week before releasing them to adoption so that problems will show themselves in time.

I would advise borrowing the dog for a week, with the understanding that you would return him at the end of the week. Pick him up as you come home for the weekend so you'll have a couple days to interact with him and see if there are any serious problems. He needs to learn the rules of your house before you leave him alone all day.

At the end of the week, return him and then have a family discussion. What are the problems you've encountered and can you deal with them? Of course, you may both agree in advance not to return him because he's become your dog. If so, great. If not, don't forget there are a lot of other dogs who need a good home and deserve it just as much as he does.
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retiredjg
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by retiredjg » Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:30 pm

guitarguy wrote:One thing I have to pay strict attention to though is that my wife and I are dog lovers, and I know once we meet this dog...unless he turns out to be some kind of nightmare...we're going to want to take him.

That's why I said to see the dog and then ponder it a few days. If after a few days you are still interested, then you'll know the attraction is more than just being a dog lover. You'll know you actually want that dog to join your lives at this point in time.

I also like the idea of "borrowing" the dog for a week.

Let us know what happens!

Khanmots
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by Khanmots » Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:36 pm

A good rescue organization should be interviewing you to find out what type of personality you're wanting, what your lifestyle is like, etc, and then trying to select a dog that will match that.

Also... given that you have another dog, bring him with you to participate in the "interview"! My first dog never learned to socialize with other dogs as a puppy, so adopting a second one was a bit stressful. The final choice as to which of 3 dogs to adopt though came down to him. I let him interact with all 3 and saw which one he seemed more at ease with (or in his case less stressed). Also, try to adopt at the beginning of a weekend. The first couple days after I got the second they spent a lot of time finding boundaries, lots of barking and some growling, but I was there to let them know when they were getting too heated. By the end of the first couple of days they had started to work things out enough that I felt mostly ok about heading off to work monday (I did stop in at lunch though!) Also, I bought about 15 new toys and dropped them all in the middle of the floor on top of their heads to try to head off fights over existing toys that "belonged" to my first. It mostly worked, but just like kids sometimes the first toy one of them would pick up just *had* to be the best! :P

That said a lot of people have focused on potential problems. There's a lot of benefits as well. You'll likely get a dog that's house trained (especially if they're interviewing and you say it's important), that's not going to chew your shoes or pee in the middle of your bed or all the things that puppies do. You can also choose how active the new dog will be, picking 2.5 years will get one out of puppy state at the tail end of doggy teanagehood, he'll still be pretty bouncy. If you got one that's 4-5 you'd get a more mellow dog, but still with energy when you want to play. You can also do some selection of personality with adults that you can't really do with puppies. Want a dog that'll curl up against you on the sofa while you watch TV or one that'd rather lay down a little bit away and take a nap instead? Their personalities have developed so you can have a good idea (and their fosters will likely know!).

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DiscoBunny1979
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by DiscoBunny1979 » Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:04 pm

One of the key questions you should ask the owner of the dog is what responsibilities does the dog have. In other words, certain dogs require a job to do. Without a particular "mission" in life, a dog can get bored or act up. A German Shepard can be a guard dog, a search and rescue dog, a seeing eye dog, a police dog for drug enforcement or tracking criminals, or just a companion dog. I would venture to guess that a "shy" dog doesn't have the personality traits to do any of these particularly well, except maybe as a companion. A German Shepard usually is determined, alert, engaged, active and adventureous and therefore I would look to see how playful the dog is and how the dog interacts with strangers (you).

Shepards usually require a large yard for roaming and keeping busy. One concern I would have is the mixing of breeds. Certain breeds get along well with others, but many don't mix at all. For instance my Akitas are very independent and don't want competition for affection. Have you thought how the current dog that you claim is well situated would deal with an additional family member, whereas attention would be completely re-directed to the newcomer in terms of training time, game play and food?

Shepards require a lot of attention, some to the point whereas if you are not home at night, they can become the barking problem of the neighborhood. So, another question to ask the owner is how often has the dog been left alone at a time - i.e. a few hours, all day, all night, a weekend, etc. If left to its own devices for an entire weekend, how often was he checked on by a neighbor for a few minutes or was it walked by a dog sitter?

Another question to ask is what type of food does the dog eat. Is it cheap dog food from WalMart or an upscale brand like Blue Buffalo from Petsmart? OR does the dog only get food human food - like steak. There are trainers out there that suggest Shepards only get feed uncooked meat! So what is the diet? You might have to continue that type of diet if you adopt him. If he's use to steak but you provide cheap kibble . . . it's not going to be a good day for one of you.

Finally, how does the dog live? Does he live only outside, or does he have inside use with his own doggy door? I've installed an xtra large doggy door for my Akitas to go in and out as they please. BUT I still end up being their butler on the other side of the house with the sliding glass doors. Talking about sliding glass doors . . . please check the owner's doors in the their house for scratches to determine whether this dog will potentially be marking up your doors.

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by rustymutt » Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:26 pm

In 20 years we've had 3 house dogs. The first dog was a Schnauzer, and was 10 weeks old when I bought her home. She was a great animal and we had no issues getting her house trained. Bernie was a HS dog and 2.5 years estimated old. He was house broke from day one, and smart. He loved everyone and got along with other dogs well. The day he died, a big part of my heart went with him. I've never been so attached to an animal. Now, a little over a year later we have another animal shelter dog, and he's proven harder to train than either of the other two dogs, but we still like him. He's high maintenance. I think either way you go with getting dogs, you can get different results. I think you should get him.
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guitarguy
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by guitarguy » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:29 pm

DiscoBunny1979 wrote:One of the key questions you should ask the owner of the dog is what responsibilities does the dog have. In other words, certain dogs require a job to do. Without a particular "mission" in life, a dog can get bored or act up. A German Shepard can be a guard dog, a search and rescue dog, a seeing eye dog, a police dog for drug enforcement or tracking criminals, or just a companion dog. I would venture to guess that a "shy" dog doesn't have the personality traits to do any of these particularly well, except maybe as a companion. A German Shepard usually is determined, alert, engaged, active and adventureous and therefore I would look to see how playful the dog is and how the dog interacts with strangers (you).

Shepards usually require a large yard for roaming and keeping busy. One concern I would have is the mixing of breeds. Certain breeds get along well with others, but many don't mix at all. For instance my Akitas are very independent and don't want competition for affection. Have you thought how the current dog that you claim is well situated would deal with an additional family member, whereas attention would be completely re-directed to the newcomer in terms of training time, game play and food?

Shepards require a lot of attention, some to the point whereas if you are not home at night, they can become the barking problem of the neighborhood. So, another question to ask the owner is how often has the dog been left alone at a time - i.e. a few hours, all day, all night, a weekend, etc. If left to its own devices for an entire weekend, how often was he checked on by a neighbor for a few minutes or was it walked by a dog sitter?

Another question to ask is what type of food does the dog eat. Is it cheap dog food from WalMart or an upscale brand like Blue Buffalo from Petsmart? OR does the dog only get food human food - like steak. There are trainers out there that suggest Shepards only get feed uncooked meat! So what is the diet? You might have to continue that type of diet if you adopt him. If he's use to steak but you provide cheap kibble . . . it's not going to be a good day for one of you.

Finally, how does the dog live? Does he live only outside, or does he have inside use with his own doggy door? I've installed an xtra large doggy door for my Akitas to go in and out as they please. BUT I still end up being their butler on the other side of the house with the sliding glass doors. Talking about sliding glass doors . . . please check the owner's doors in the their house for scratches to determine whether this dog will potentially be marking up your doors.


Lots of good questions!

Regarding the dog being 'shy', we'll have to meet him and really see what we're talking about. It could quite possibly be just a lack of self confidence issue that would likely be helped a lot by training. I've done lots of obedience training and would pursue that (whether in classes or alone) with this dog too.

Regarding our current dog, he lived with our previous GSD his entire life, from the day we brought him home. They got alone well, played nice, rarely bickered, even slept cuddled up to each other on the floor. I'm fairly confident he'd do fine with another dog too, assuming the other dog is well adjusted and friendly. Ours shows litterally zero jealous tendencies. In fact, he'd usually rather be napping than getting loved up by us!

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by GregLee » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:42 pm

Since '94, when we bought our first house, we've had 4 dogs, all adults and all rescue. They were all mutts, fine dogs, none aggressive. Dog 4, the only survivor, was picked out at the Humane Society by Dog 3, and in fact the two of them always got along famously. We exercise with our dogs off-leash every morning at a beach frequented by other dogs, so it would very inconvenient for us to have a dog that got into fights with other dogs, so I don't think a German Shepherd would be good for us (but maybe I have a wrong impression of GS -- never had one).
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by Minot » Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:00 pm

guitarguy wrote:Now for the concerns...my wife and I both work 9-5 type jobs (basically zero overtime), I am starting grad school in Sept (2 nights per week), I also work part time as a musician on weekend nights, and we're currently trying to have a baby. I know, right? :shock: Because of how busy our lives are, part of me isn't sure whether or not we should take this new challenge on.
If you think you're busy now, wait until you've got a baby.

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by guitarguy » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:47 am

GregLee wrote:it would very inconvenient for us to have a dog that got into fights with other dogs, so I don't think a German Shepherd would be good for us (but maybe I have a wrong impression of GS -- never had one).


Yes, you do!! There are plenty of well socialized and well adjusted GSDs out there. :wink:

If there is any hint of a bad or violent reputation with this breed, it's because of the massive amount of inbreeding and mishandled bloodlines of these dogs. It's sad...people will do anything to make a buck. People just need to do their homework and go through a reputable breeder.

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by camiboxer » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:11 am

I doubt the owner will have much info on his lineage (or at least a GOOD lineage). If that were the case and this dog came from a responsible breeder they would have a contract stating they would take the dog back at any time no matter what. Since he seems willing to re-home him to someone other than the breeder I'd assume he came from a back yard breeder, pet store (or similar).
I'd meet the dog sans your own dog and not tackle that challenge (on neutral territory) until you have gotten a better idea of his personality. It would be a harder task to learn about the GSD's personality/temperament with your dog added to the mix. If the meet goes well then you can get the dogs together later.
In the grand scheme of things a lot of people trying to re-home a dog will tell you all the great things about the dog and neglect to offer up some not so good qualities. Saying a dog is submissive is one thing but it could have a deeper meaning. It seems you are going into this with your eyes wide open and that is a great thing.
I've been involved with Boxer rescue for many years and your post includes a few red flags for me. I am not implying that certain things said would keep me from bringing this dog into my home just that I am aware of some potential issues to look out for. It's been my experience when people say "they don't have time for the dog" they often have no idea what they are doing and it shows in how the dog behaves. It ends up in becoming someone else's problem. It can be something as simple as the dog not getting enough exercise and destroying a home to a dog never being properly socialized and developing serious personality faults.
No matter what the dogs personality you are bringing a new dog into the home which will need to be taught how to exist in his new environment. He may be potty trained, have good manners and be a good representative of the breed at his current home but will need a refresher course at yours. Factor in that you already have a heads-up on the submissive thing and that just adds to the work required to help him become the best dog he can be. I wish you luck in your decision. Thanks for considering bringing this guy into your home.

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by nisiprius » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:36 am

Two points from our experience:
--Rescue organizations are good;
--Behaviorists can be very helpful.

We've had nothing but good experiences adopting adult dogs through rescue organizations. Three so far, two through Newfoundland breed rescue organizations, one from an organization that rescues mutts. The cost is a few hundred dollars but that includes transportation and all needed veterinary services. The organizations we used were accurate in telling us what they knew about the dog's background and what they were like.

We were told that our current dog was good with children, but not good with other dogs when on leash in public areas. That turned out to be true. We were prepared for that and had already arranged for sessions with a behaviorist, who knew what to do and was very helpful--our dog is still anxious when other dogs are nearby but is, frankly, better than the average neighborhood dog now.
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by DiscoBunny1979 » Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:01 am

guitarguy wrote:
DiscoBunny1979 wrote:One of the key questions you should ask the owner of the dog is what responsibilities does the dog have. In other words, certain dogs require a job to do. Without a particular "mission" in life, a dog can get bored or act up. A German Shepard can be a guard dog, a search and rescue dog, a seeing eye dog, a police dog for drug enforcement or tracking criminals, or just a companion dog. I would venture to guess that a "shy" dog doesn't have the personality traits to do any of these particularly well, except maybe as a companion. A German Shepard usually is determined, alert, engaged, active and adventureous and therefore I would look to see how playful the dog is and how the dog interacts with strangers (you).

Shepards usually require a large yard for roaming and keeping busy. One concern I would have is the mixing of breeds. Certain breeds get along well with others, but many don't mix at all. For instance my Akitas are very independent and don't want competition for affection. Have you thought how the current dog that you claim is well situated would deal with an additional family member, whereas attention would be completely re-directed to the newcomer in terms of training time, game play and food?

Shepards require a lot of attention, some to the point whereas if you are not home at night, they can become the barking problem of the neighborhood. So, another question to ask the owner is how often has the dog been left alone at a time - i.e. a few hours, all day, all night, a weekend, etc. If left to its own devices for an entire weekend, how often was he checked on by a neighbor for a few minutes or was it walked by a dog sitter?

Another question to ask is what type of food does the dog eat. Is it cheap dog food from WalMart or an upscale brand like Blue Buffalo from Petsmart? OR does the dog only get food human food - like steak. There are trainers out there that suggest Shepards only get feed uncooked meat! So what is the diet? You might have to continue that type of diet if you adopt him. If he's use to steak but you provide cheap kibble . . . it's not going to be a good day for one of you.

Finally, how does the dog live? Does he live only outside, or does he have inside use with his own doggy door? I've installed an xtra large doggy door for my Akitas to go in and out as they please. BUT I still end up being their butler on the other side of the house with the sliding glass doors. Talking about sliding glass doors . . . please check the owner's doors in the their house for scratches to determine whether this dog will potentially be marking up your doors.


Lots of good questions!

Regarding the dog being 'shy', we'll have to meet him and really see what we're talking about. It could quite possibly be just a lack of self confidence issue that would likely be helped a lot by training. I've done lots of obedience training and would pursue that (whether in classes or alone) with this dog too.

Regarding our current dog, he lived with our previous GSD his entire life, from the day we brought him home. They got alone well, played nice, rarely bickered, even slept cuddled up to each other on the floor. I'm fairly confident he'd do fine with another dog too, assuming the other dog is well adjusted and friendly. Ours shows litterally zero jealous tendencies. In fact, he'd usually rather be napping than getting loved up by us!


--------------------

What I'm saying about a dog being "shy" is that you have to determine what the dog's role will be in your household. For instance, my Akitas role is as guard dogs and companionship. If you want a Shepard as a guard dog, a shy dog - one that doesn't find strangers around the house a questionable source of intrusion whereas they would go on 'alert' - then you have to question if the dog is a good fit. The amount of "training" is something that isn't just during the day as you know. It would have to be around the clock behavior adjustment for an older dog to learn new tricks that would change dramatically his 'nature'. So as you said, you have to know what they mean by "shy". I certainly wouldn't want a "shy" Akita. That's because it's not a trait I would find acceptable to my breed standard.

Yes, a dog can live an entire life with another dog . . but that particular dog is all that dog knows. It's like with my Akitas . . . they can be raised as pups with, let's say a cat. But that cat will be part of the 'pack'. Once the cat leaves the pack (dies or whatever), bringing another cat into the family would be next to impossible because a new cat is not part of the 'pack'. It's an outsider. Therefore, while you know your dog the best, I still believe that a lot of dogs are pack animals. They need time to adjust to their new environments. But a Shepard can either be an independent dog, or very pack oriented as well. If pack driven, he will strive to want to know his place in the pack - and possibly have competition with the other dog to determine rank. This is where the level of being shy comes into play as well. An extremely shy dog, might not even try to compete for position, but fall into a rank, determined by the existing house dog. I don't know if I'd find that appealing in a Shepard. But, we don't know what 'shy' really means yet.

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by G12 » Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:56 am

Regarding the dog being 'shy', we'll have to meet him and really see what we're talking about. It could quite possibly be just a lack of self confidence issue that would likely be helped a lot by training. I've done lots of obedience training and would pursue that (whether in classes or alone) with this dog too.

Regarding our current dog, he lived with our previous GSD his entire life, from the day we brought him home. They got alone well, played nice, rarely bickered, even slept cuddled up to each other on the floor. I'm fairly confident he'd do fine with another dog too, assuming the other dog is well adjusted and friendly. Ours shows litterally zero jealous tendencies. In fact, he'd usually rather be napping than getting loved up by us!


We have rescued 3-Dobes and 1-AmStaff terrier, and the two "shy" Dobes have zero difficulty protecting our house when strangers are near, it is in their DNA just like a GS. Just because the dog may be shy or nervous around new people has no bearing on that when they acclimate to their family/surroundings/territory. A trainer I work with adopted/rescued a GS from a former client who had run into severe financial distress and the dog has velcroed to her. GS's need a job, they are very bright and need mental stimulation and exercise, especially when younger. I think GS are great family dogs when introduced properly, including your present dog. Regarding the AmStaff we rescued most recently, we crated her in the house for two weeks to acclimate and she and our existing Dobe still got into a few scuffles due to the Dobe's territorial and fear based behavior, but they are now best of friends and we are glad to have had all four in our lives. Even if your current dog is mellow he/she may not understand if the new GS has boundaries and may not be as easy going as your first GS. Good luck on your decision.

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by retiredjg » Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:34 pm

So....we are all waiting to hear how the meeting with Mr. Walter went. :D

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by livesoft » Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:41 pm

I read the posts here and was amused. Every dog is an individual and different even with a breed. There is no way to predict anything.

That written, we adopted a 5-6 year-old rescue. At first when walking, it would bark at other dogs, but now after working with my dog, it takes it's cue from me. If I am friendly to the other dogs, my dog is friendly. If I am wary, my dog is wary. If I lunge at, attack, and bite the other dog, then my dog does likewise.

I am especially friendly to big dogs like GSDs. It is sad to me to see a happy, playful GSD or Husky that everyone else is avoiding. So we always approach the owner and ask if we can "Say Hello" which is a euphemism for "Sniff butt".

It is amazing to me what one can do with dogs if they have the mindset and time to do the training.
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by guitarguy » Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:18 pm

retiredjg wrote:So....we are all waiting to hear how the meeting with Mr. Walter went. :D


:annoyed :annoyed :annoyed

I had 3 paragraphs typed up and I somehow got logged out and lost it all!!!!! Here goes the retyping...

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by guitarguy » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:07 pm

We met with Mr. Walter this morning at the owner's home (without our current dog), and overall we had a pleasurable experience. :happy

First of all, it turns out he's not a purebred GSD, which was actually a relief to us. Much less to worry about in terms of bloodlines, backyard breeding, etc. He looks like a shepherd in the face, coloring, and coat, but he only weighs I'd guess 60-65 lbs and stands lower to the ground. They're not sure what he's mixed with. The girl I went to high school with originally got him at 8 weeks, and her dad took him after about a year when she joined the USMC, so they've had him a long time. He's healthy and is on a 'normal' mid grade quality kibble diet.

From the time we rang the bell and he barked a few times (not aggressively, just alert barking) and charged the door jumping and SO full of energy, we could tell he hadn't had much obedience training, and what training he had received was getting basically zero follow through. We walked in and got greeted by a VERY energetic and friendly and JUMPY pup. No manners whatsoever but no shyness that's for sure. The owner's feeble attempts, "Walter, no!!" "Walter, stop jumping, hey, no!!" Yada yada yada...it was pretty clear they had no idea how to deter unwanted behaviors. We proceeded to baffle them a little by totally ignoring Mr. Walter for about 15 minutes and talking about work, our lives and what happened since we saw each other last like 10 years ago in high school, etc etc. When they commented on how we "acted" we were like, "yeah...most people don't know how to properly greet dogs!" :wink:

After about 5 minutes he was calmed down quite a bit, exhibiting pretty normal social behavior...coming up to sniff us as we chatted with the owners. The girl's baby was also roaming and playing, and the dog was very respectful and gentle around him, even when the baby fed him some treats. I got right to the "submissive" issue pretty fast in our conversations. Turns out they had another dog who recently past and Walter was submissive to him, but isn't timid or fearful of people. She was petting him and when he rolled on his back she was like, "see his so submissive!" like it was weird or something. Um...he's enjoying that belly rub!! Nothing abnormal there at all. In fact, aside from his crazy high energy level (due to lack of exercise) I thought he had a great temperament.

When I was ready I decided to interact with Walter. I fed him some cubed up chicken breast I brought with me, and ran him through some basic sit/down stuff. He was very gentle and respectful when taking food from our hands. We then went outside and the owner played some fetch with him while we got the rundown on his lifestyle. Basically the dog is crated all day while the owner is at work (BIG plus for us that he's crate trained), and when he gets home Walter gets about 10 minutes of fetch in their fairly small privacy fenced yard. Very sheltered life. Very little mental stimulation. Very little focus on training, rules, leadership, or limitations. When I asked if I could take him for a walk, the daughter said something like, "Sure you can try! He pulls on the leash and he's really hard to control...you'll see how strong he is!"...etc. I said laughingly and very confident in my leash training ability, come on you're a fricken US Marine!!!

Now for all the good news...I'll tell you guys...Walter is an EXTREMELY responsive dog! He gave no objection to being handled whatsoever. I had him 90% loose leash trained in about 30 mins with a makeshift training collar (using the leash handle), half a chicken breast, a couple laps around the yard, and a brisk walk around the block. He is pretty easily distracted but with a little training he'll absolutely walk like a champ. For the most part I walked him with 2 fingers. When we got back I taught him to stop and wait at gates and doors calmly. The owners were so surprised at how well he was doing. He really learned the ropes very quickly with zero objection. Even when I corrected him it only took a very minor and gentle correction to get his attention. He's definitely not a dominant dog and responded great to some leadership. It was really a pleasure handling him!

After leaving and talking with my wife, we're definitely interested in pursuing this further. We're planning on meeting again this week with our dog to make that introduction. They seem extremely confident that they'll get along great...as Walter apparently gets along great with other dogs. We'll see there. If that goes well, we'll probably decide to take him. After handling him for 30 mins and based on his responsiveness, I know it'll take some work and effort but I'm pretty confident we can fix the few behavior problems he has by getting him some proper exercise and activity (he'd probably average 45 mins of walking and 15 mins of obedience a day with us plus other activities sprinkled in), and giving him some consistent leadership. We're both hoping it works out and that we can help and give him a great home and a fulfilling life!

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by retiredjg » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:59 pm

Yep. And I think we know the rest of the story....

Congrats on your new family member!

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by Fallible » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:57 am

retiredjg wrote:Yep. And I think we know the rest of the story....

Congrats on your new family member!


I think we do, too, and knowing of two older dogs (a Collie and a mutt farm dog) successfully adopted by family members, I also offer my congrats in advance. :)
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by guitarguy » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:04 am

We had meeting number 2 with old (wait, make that young/rowdy) Walt yesterday, this time with our current dog Jack in tow. :)

When we pulled up I had my wife walk our dog around the block while I went inside to get Walt. He was waiting in the back yard and was awfully excited to see me. When I walked out the back door I got a little jumping action as I expected, but this time he got a slight verbal correction with the 'arms folded turnaround and ignore' bit, and then he got slices of hot dog for sitting and greeting me calmly. I leashed him up and took him out front. When he saw my wife and our dog waiting at the end of the driveway oooohhhh boy...old rambunctious jumpy Walt was back! After handling his little outburst and taking off and walking a couple blocks though, he was an absolute champ. Walking calmly side by side our pack for about a half hour. Stopping for training and calm on-leash greeting and butt sniffing sessions with our dog, basically behaving perfectly.

The root of the problem is that Walt never got many visitors where he's at now. People, dogs, etc, he just never learned how to greet other people or dogs calmly. The commitment to training and the extra exercise he'll get with us (notice the foreshadowing there!!) will really help him and he'll learn some manners pretty quick I'd bet. ;)

When we got back from our walk we went into Walt's yard and let him off leash first, and kept out dog on leash. After 30 seconds I saw how friendly the vibe was and our dog was off his leash too. They checked each other out for a few minutes and we decided to let them in the house, where they continued to get along GREAT! They're about the same age and both very playful and even when they got a little riled up, both were easily calmed by me without even uttering a single sound. Walt, like Jack, responds great to body language. Fast forward 10 minutes and Walt is napping on the kitchen floor while our dog is getting loved up by his owner, and then he lays down for a nap a few feet from Walt. Ahh. Very mellow vibe accomplished.

We're picking Walt up this Saturday morning, and couldn't be happier. He'll get lots of activity, training, and leadership from us. That's exactly what he needs to lead a much more fulfilling and happy life. Without getting too sappy, it's funny how life works. When our last dog passed away so unexpectedly in May my wife and I asked ourselves why the heck it happened. Here we are 2 months later, with a great dog who needs exactly what we can give him falling right into our laps. The world works in mysterious ways. We're already looking forward to making an unmentionable amount of 'Grumpy Old Men' jokes when our 2 dogs are older....Jack and Walter...Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau! :)

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by Patchy Groundfog » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:24 am

Thanks for posting the super-happy ending (and a beginning, too) of your story. You're lucky dogs for sure, all four of you.
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by beardsworth » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:33 am

I can't find it in the forum rules just now, but I'm sure it's written down someplace that all threads about pets must include photographs, so that the rest of us readers can go "Awwww . . ." :)

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by retiredjg » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:43 am

Great story, guitarguy!

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by camiboxer » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:45 am

Sounds like this was meant to be.
Getting the dog you want isn't always possible but you will always get the dog you need. :happy
Congrats on the new addition.
THANK YOU for opening up your home and your hearts to the new guy.

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by guitarguy » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:12 am

Thanks everyone for the kind words and well wishes. Aside from picking everyone's brain about adopting an adult dog, I wanted to share the story...especially after everything going so well. We are definitely 'dog people' and we're just glad we can help out and give this guy a good home and an active life!

Per request...meet our new pal Walter (GSD/Golden Retriever mix):

Image

And this is our current little playful pup Jack (Collie/Terrier mix):

Image

This is kind of crappy quality and littered with our neice's stuffed animals...but I had to show Jack being the most chill dog ever. He will teach Walt how to really relax! :D

Image

And lastly I'd be remiss not to show you guys Marshall, one of the most obedient, smartest, most talented and trainable dogs I've ever been around. Always remembered boy! :sharebeer

Image

Now...feel free to "awwww" at will! 8-)

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by englishgirl » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:14 am

Congrats, guitarguy!
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by G12 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:36 am

Great job working with Walter, he is bee yooo teee ful. They are all great looking. Sorry you lost Marshall, but he has to be happy your family was able to help out another GS, mix or not. Sounds like Walter will have a much happier life.

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by zaplunken » Sun Aug 19, 2012 5:12 pm

Great thread, I'm in the process of finding an adult dog. guitarguy, how about an update? :D

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by ilmartello » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:16 am

zaplunken wrote:Great thread, I'm in the process of finding an adult dog. guitarguy, how about an update? :D


A shelter is your best friend.

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by mlipps » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:15 am

ilmartello wrote:
zaplunken wrote:Great thread, I'm in the process of finding an adult dog. guitarguy, how about an update? :D


A shelter is your best friend.


Or a rescue that takes them from shelters...many rescues place the animals in foster, which means you get a better sense of the animal's temperament. The adult dog my parents adopted from the shelter was totally different once we got her home than she was in the shelter. I adopted our adult dog from a rescue and she was pretty much exactly as described, and by taking her they were able to pull another out of the shelter. Same effect, but much better for the adopter.

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by FabLab » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:55 am

guitarguy,
AWWWWW! Great pics. When our guy on the right retires to that Great Dog Bowl in the sky (heh, he's a lab that eats everything), we will probably choose an adult rescue lab. Never have done before; always raised 'em as pups. So, that will be interesting.

Thanks for brightening the day :sharebeer
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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by guitarguy » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:11 pm

zaplunken wrote:Great thread, I'm in the process of finding an adult dog. guitarguy, how about an update? :D


Good luck with your search! :sharebeer

Well, about a month or so in with Walt, and everything is going great. He's settled in well and adopted to our routine after only a few days.

We're still working on his excitement levels when outside and around his triggers (other people and dogs), but he's showing great progress week to week. At first I could barely get out the door while keeping his excitement under control. Now we're able to calmly sit and buckle the leash, get out the door calmly and focused, and do all sorts of obedience training in the front yard. I even had him remain in a down while some dude on a bike rode by just 3-4 feet away. Remarkable progress. We're still working on getting further and further away from the house and keeping his excitement to an appropriate level. I also went jogging with him the other day for the first time, and he did amazingly well...no training collar or anything...you'd think I've been working with him on this for months. The faster pace helped him to keep his focus and he literally ran about 2 miles in my hip pocket. He started to get tired so I cut my run a bit short...we'll build up to it. He's never in his life got that kind of a workout. He loved it. Ears pinned back just traveling. He did have a couple short spots where he slowed down distracted by barking dogs in people's yards...but overall he got an A.

His jumping problem has diminished a lot too, he no longer jumps on me or my wife when we come home. We still have a lot of work ahead of us when dealing with visitors though. Leashed, he's doing better, but still there is lots of practice ahead of us yet to get what we want without aids like gates and leashes.

Obedience wise he's already learned sit, down, stand, shake, go up on the porch, go into your crate, and is a rockstar with general rules like waiting at open doors and outside of the kitchen while we cook and sitting and waiting to be fed or clip on his leash. He gives me great eye contact and focus when we work outside too...he's going to be a great heeling dog! I purposefully haven't taught "come" yet becuase I'm getting him to naturally focus on me and he's doing very well on that. I'll start working with a long line on an official recall very soon. He's just flat out terrific and so hungry to learn.

During our couple months with only the one dog (who really isn't an active working/training dog) I almost forgot how much I like training dogs...especially ones like Walt that are just so eager to work. Having him has already brought a lot of happiness to my life...and what more could we ask for than that!

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by retiredjg » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:18 pm

Sometimes, the right dog just appears. Great stuff!

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Re: Adopting an adult dog

Post by guitarguy » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:25 pm

retiredjg wrote:Sometimes, the right dog just appears. Great stuff!


Absolutely. We weren't even really considering getting another dog at the time...but old Walt just sort of crossed our path and we're happy he did.

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