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Adopting shelter dogs: Owner experiences of the first month post-adoption

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Abstract:

A number of studies have examined factors associated with the relinquishment of pet dogs to animal welfare shelters. In Australia, however, there has been little investigation of new owners' experiences when they subsequently adopt one of these dogs. To address this, telephone interviews were conducted with 62 persons who had recently adopted a shelter dog in Melbourne, Australia. Data relating to adopter demographics, factors influencing the selection of a dog and problems experienced post-adoption were collected. Shelter dogs were primarily acquired to replace a deceased pet or as companions to humans or other dogs. Selection was influenced by the dog's size, general appearance and behavior, with adopters preferring dogs who behaved in a calm and friendly manner. Common problems reported during the initial post-adoptive period were hyperactivity/boisterousness, compatibility issues with an existing pet and pulling on the lead. Escaping was strongly associated with separation-related problems. Three-quarters of the sample walked their dogs daily for 30 minutes or more, with larger dogs exercised for longer. Most dogs were exercised off-lead for some period, particularly larger dogs. This study indicates that improving assessment and matching procedures, and providing in-house and post-adoptive training could increase rehoming success rates.

Keywords: ADOPTION; CANINE; DOG; HUMAN–ANIMAL INTERACTION; SHELTERS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279305785593965

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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