Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Asima and Dog Behavior

One of the most interesting things about my job and something I've been learning about a lot is dog behavior. The shelter environment is really stressful on them and over time they can develop some behavioral issues if they are not socialized and worked with. Which is why the volunteers are so important at shelters! If you are ever wondering how you could help rescue animals, start by volunteering at a shelter. I have seen very skittish and nervous dogs improve and become more comfortable with people by working with volunteers and/or the staff. They need our attention and love! :)

I've been reading a lot on dog behavior and learning SO much about why they act the way they do and how we can help them. Shelter dogs though are much trickier to work with because of the environment they're in versus working with a dog in a family home. I'm still learning and trying to do my best in order to help these dogs out so they can be adopted out quickly. It's a work in progress and I will definitely have another post once I finish the book I'm reading just for dog behavior! So stay tuned.

Meet Asima :) She got adopted and went home today after being at the shelter for 6 months. She was one of my favorite dogs at the shelter and I truly hope it all works out and that she has a permanent home. I got really attached to some dogs when I first started working at the shelter but I realized how difficult it is to part with them after getting so emotionally invested in them. I still give them all a lot of love and I do get close to many, especially the ones that have been here for a while, but at the same time I've been trying to not get sooo close. I had to turn away when she walked out with her new owners because of how sad I was to see her go! (Note: I am very happy that she got adopted)! She's been here since I started and Asima was a dog who came in to the shelter with a VERY skittish and timid personality; so I decided to put some before and after pictures of her.

As you can see in the picture above, she would always crouch down, have her ears laid back, and carried her tail in between her legs. Typical body language of a scared and frightened dog that doesn't yet trust people. After working with her and giving her time to open up, she would come right up to us and give us so much love! Notice how perky and alert her ears and face is in the second picture - what a transformation! The key is to not force them and let the dogs become comfortable with you with time. Which is why it is so frustrating when people return dogs after only a couple of days! Every dog is different and some need more time than others to learn to trust people again and know that everything will be ok.

We had a return today for a small Corgi mix named Sunshine that was adopted out this past Saturday. The couple said that she would always crouch down and shy away anytime someone would try and pet her, and they thought she would bite them. OH man...they didn't even give her a week to get comfortable in her new home! And I bet they were trying to force her to like them versus letting her come to them. To top it off, they wanted to exchange her and just get another dog...ha yeah right like we would let that happen.


Anyways, I added a video that I took of Asima the day before she went home :) It was truly bittersweet because I am happy that she got adopted...but at the same time I'm sad that I can't see her every day. She was the first dog I really worked with and learned how to train and socialize dogs. It was with Asima that I realized that not every dog is doomed to be a nervous wreck for the rest of their lives...they are capable of change and can adapt if given the chance :)

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