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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Dog ownership, and the adoption process in particular, can be daunting. We have compiled some information that we hope you will find to be useful on your quest to either start or expand your dog family!

FAQ Topics

Adoption Considerations

Behavioral

Food-related

Fostering

T
ips on Bringing Home Your Rescue Dog (external link)

Thank you and happy reading!


Behavioral

Q: I’ve heard that crate training is good, but it seems like it might be mean to confine the dog. Do your experts recommend this?

Q: How do I crate train my dog?

Q: I've read that it’s important to socialize my dog. Why?

Q: I’ve heard that crate training is good, but it seems like it might be mean to confine the dog. Do your experts recommend this?

A: Crating a dog is not mean or cruel. In fact, crates are a very useful tool. Dogs find sanctuary in the quiet, dark confines of the crate and it allows them to settle down, relax and sleep. Dogs den by nature. The owners need to remember that dogs are dogs, not humans. You may think, "I would never crate my child," but consider the fact that human children are not canines who den in the wild. When you bring in a dog that is young, high-strung, not house-trained, or possibly destructive, the crate is a great option to give the dog some down time. There are many benefits:

  • Allows the puppy or dog time to decompress
  • Provides a safe haven while you are not at home to supervise
  • Keeps your dog safe from household hazards when you are away
  • Gives you some dog-free time when/if you need it
  • Provides the safest means of transporting your dog while in a vehicle
  • Protects your floors during the house-training months
  • Protects your furniture from dogs who might chew in times of boredom

Consider crating if your dog is barking, digging, chewing, has accidents, or is constantly running or pacing indoors. It's OK to give yourself a break from your dog. It's OK to crate them for a short period of time while you vacuum, mop and pick up the house. It's OK to crate them when you have a party and don't want your dog underfoot. Crating your dog while you are away for a couple of hours is much more acceptable than leaving them outside to bark and annoy your neighbors.

Read more here.

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Q: How do I crate train my dog?

A: Crating a dog is not mean or cruel (Read this answer). Here are a couple of hints for successful crate training :

  • Keep the crate where your family resides so the dog will feel less isolation
  • Cover the crate with a blanket
  • Offer treats or kibble to entice dogs into the crate for the first time
  • Use your happy voice to encourage your dog to get in the crate
  • Don't associate punishment with the crate - it's their sanctuary, not their prison
  • Make sure your dog has adequate water if you are gone for extended time periods
  • Don't over-utilize crates. In other words, don't leave your dog there all day and then crate again all night

Read more here.

FAQ Topics


Q: I've read that it’s important to socialize my dog. Why?

A: Socializing reduces fear of the unknown and builds confidence. Here are a couple of ideas for ongoing socializing for your puppy and/or dog.

  • Daily walks in your neighborhood
  • Supervised play dates with other dogs
  • Doggy daycare
  • Puppy classes or ongoing obedience with other dogs in a group setting
  • Agility classes (fun for the dog and for the handler)
  • Walks at public parks
  • Visit stores that allow dogs (pet stores are great for this)
  • Visits to the vet clinic
  • Walks in parks
  • Visits to public beaches that allow dogs

Read more here.   

FAQ Topics


Adoption Considerations

Q: I love puppies, but it’s been suggested to me that an older dog might suit me better. Why is that?

Q: What does it mean when the dog biography says "best as only dog"?

Q: What does it mean when the description says "no kids"?

Q: What should I expect during the first week of dog ownership?

Q: Why are your adoption fees higher than at a shelter?

Q: Should I take my dog for group obedience classes or invest in private sessions?

Q: When you say recall, what exactly is that in reference to?

Q: I really want to adopt a puppy but I'm not sure I'm ready to handle a young dog. Do you have advice?

Q: I love puppies, but it’s been suggested to me that an older dog might suit me better. Why is that?

A: Older dogs suit many families better than puppies. Senior dogs make great pets and more people should consider adopting one. Not only are mature dogs calmer, past the destructive years and often have a more easy-going temperament, they are also content to enjoy companionship without asking much in return. Forget the bouncing, counter-grazing, high energy young dog who would think nothing of eating the new couch! Please consider offering an older dog his or her forever home so that they can enjoy their golden years surrounded by love and comfort. Remember, these mature dogs were once cute little puppies too, but somewhere along the way, someone turned their back on them.

Read more here.    

FAQ Topics


Q: What does it mean when the dog biography says "best as an only dog"?

A: Most of the adoptable dogs are fostered with other dogs. When the description says "Best as only dog", it means that the foster parent has noticed some behavior that indicates that the dog would do best in a household that has no other dogs. Some examples of such behavior include:

  • The dog is friendly toward people than toward other dogs
  • The dog has poor "dog manners". In other words, the dog may not know how to properly read other dogs' signals, which often times will lead to a dog fight. The dog isn't being mean, but it is unable (or unwilling) to properly assess other dogs' body language. When this happens, certain behaviors are ignored (hackles up, warning growl, stiff body posture) and often times it will lead to the dogs tangling with one another
  • The dog is overly protective of people and/or belongings. When another dog approaches, the dog will literally fight (growl, show teeth, or worse)
  • The dog is simply isn't interested in playing with another dog. This is not ideal for people who want a second dog so that their current dog has a playmate

In the end, if you do see a label on a dog's biography that states "best as only dog" please take it to heart. It is for the best for all involved; you, your current dog and the dog that's up for adoption.

Read more here.

FAQ Topics


Q: What does it mean when the description says "no kids"?

A: A dog that comes into the rescue with no prior history with children (especially if that dog came in as a stray) will be labeled "no kids" until it proves that it is safe with children. This is based on the observations of the handlers in the organization, who might note certain behaviors that might make the dog a risk to children.

Kids are known to grab dogs anywhere on their body, pulling the tail, sitting on the dogs, running with toys....and that can lead to problems down the line. This is hard for dogs that are not well socialized, are lacking confidence or show signs of being skittish. This doesn't mean that the dog is mean or aggressive, but their lack of confidence could indicate a potential for a nipping or biting situation in a household with children. Dogs that are not comfortable being handled are typically labeled No Kids.

Dogs that appear to be confident and well-balanced, but still have no history, may go to an experienced foster home with children at this point, to further observe the real-life interactions between the children and the dog. If things go smoothly at the foster home with no red flags, an OK for children may be approved.

Obviously with a large breed dog such as a German Shepherd, extra precautions must be exercised. Anyone who is looking to adopt a dog should quiz the rescue organization about how they evaluate the suitability of their dogs for living in a household with children. NWGSR is especially rigourous in this respect, but please be aware that we cannot guarantee the absolute safety of any dog with a child. This is where parents must step in and be responsible. Always supervise, especially a newly adopted dog in a new household.

Read more here.

FAQ Topics


Q: What should I expect during the first week of dog ownership?

A: There is an adjustment period for a dog to settle into his or her new environment.

Owners that bring a newly adopted dog home should expect their new companion to pace, whine, act nervous and possibly not eat for at least the first 24 hours. This is perfectly normal! Imagine if someone took you and plopped you down in a completely foreign environment with no explanation; you, too, would be confused and disoriented.

Here are a few tips to help ease the transition for your new family member:

  • Taking the dog for several long walks during the first several days is an excellent way to create a bond with your new companion. Dogs look to their handler for guidance and a walk is a perfect way to let the dog know that he or she is in your care and you are his security blanket. Be sure to have a securely fitting collar and solid leash and be aware of where you are taking the dog so as not to put yourself in a situation that is uncomfortable (or dangerous) for you or the dog.
  • Establish the clear and consistent rules and boundaries of the household from day one. Don't coddle the new dog and treat him/her like a baby. Let the dog know what is acceptable in the household and what is not. If you don't want a dog that thinks the furniture is their throne, don't allow them up there just because "they're new, cute and scared". Dogs who are given clear, consistent rules will respect their new owner more and be more eager to please. German Shepherds are happiest when they are very sure of the rules, their role, and what is acceptable and what is not.
  • Be extra vigilant during the first 24-48 hours of ownership so as to prevent potty accidents. Even a house-trained dog may feel the need to mark his/her territory with all of the new smells bombarding its nose. Offer to take the dog out for frequent potty breaks (hourly) until you feel comfortable that the dog knows where it is appropriate to relieve itself, and watch for subtle cues or requests from the dog (walking by the door to go outside or a soft whine or pacing).
  • If you have children, exercise care while the new dog interacts with them. Make sure that the children know that it's not appropriate to grab the dog (especially in the face or hindquarters), jump on the dog or corner the dog so that he/she feels threatened. Do not leave your new dog unattended with children until you are certain that the dog is completely comfortable with its new human siblings.
  • Be patient with your new dog. Don't expect that the dog will learn the rules of your home overnight. As the dog settles into the routines of your household, he/she will begin to relax and a strong bond will start to form. If you are patient and take time to accept your new dog, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly those first few tense moments pass and how quickly it feels as if your new companion has always been a part of your life.

Read more here.

FAQ Topics


Q: Why are your adoption fees higher than at a shelter?

A: Our rescue relies on donations to survive. We do not receive any state or federal funding to support the vet care, food and other expenses incurred by caring for the dogs while they are in foster homes.

We hope that adopters see the value in adopting a dog from a foster home where it has been loved, trained, observed and evaluated. The dogs which we place are always spayed or neutered (unless they are young puppies, in which case for health reasons we contract with adopters to spay or neuter them once they are old enough), up-to-date on their shots and micro-chipped. We have closely observed their behavior and evaluated what type of family they are best suited for (active, sedate, middle-of-the-road), as well as noting any tendencies that might make them unsuitable for certain home situations (for example, homes with cats, small children or perhaps other dogs that may or may not be good personality matches).

Additionally, while the dogs are in foster care, they are actively being crate-trained, house-trained and are brushing up on their indoor house manners. We fully support adopting dogs from shelters, but we also hope that potential adopters appreciate the added value of adopting from a knowledgeable rescue that houses dogs in a loving family setting, rather than in an impersonal  kennel run without one-on-one attention, observation or training.

FAQ Topics


Q: Should I take my dog for group obedience classes or invest in private sessions?

 A: In a group setting, dogs are faced with distractions that they must learn to overcome. They are exposed to other dogs and people, and they are required to interact with them in an acceptable manner.

Being able to focus on the dog's owner/handler in a group setting is a valuable skill, especially for owners that intend to take their dogs out to public places (like public dog parks) on a regular basis.

Owners with a new puppy can accomplish multiple goals while attending obedience classes that include other dogs. The puppies will be gaining wonderful socializing exposure at the same time that they are learning basic commands. Varied sights, sounds and stimulation will help the dog to learn appropriate reactions and coping skills (especially important for puppies). The added, and obvious, bonus is that a certified trainer is present and can assist both the owner AND the dog in appropriate responses to various situations that may arise.

However, some dogs are not cut out to attend group obedience classes. This is often the case for a newly adopted dog who may be facing some behavior issues. One-on-one training is often the best choice for a dog that becomes overly excited when encountering other dogs and/or people, or for dogs that exhibit leash aggression. Dogs reacting in this manner can be too distracting for a group setting and it's not fair to the other class members to have to endure constant jumping, barking or lunging. Enlisting the services of a private trainer can be the key to the overall success of a difficult dog.

If a dog has been banned from a group obedience class, he/she can learn basic commands through the help of a certified trainer. The trainer will not only teach the dog, but more importantly, teach the owner appropriate responses to the dog's "issues". After the dog learns to both focus and respect his or her owner, rejoining a group obedience class may be possible.

Owners with hectic, sporadic schedules can also benefit from one-on-one training. Group classes typically meet at a specific time, date and location. If an owner has a rotating shift, the group class may not be feasible.

The most important thing to remember is that obedience classes are important and should be attended. The key is finding one that works for you and your dog and following through. One additional point of importance: the skills learned in class MUST be exercised at home too. Just showing up to a class once a week and not following through at home is a recipe for failure. Attend classes, practice at home, and enjoy your well-behaved friend and companion!

FAQ Topics



Q: When you say recall, what exactly is that in reference to?

A:  In essence, recall refers to a dog's propensity to come back to his/her owner when called.  

Dogs who have excellent recall are a joy to own. They want to be near their owner more than where their nose may lead them, and if their curiosity does lead them away the mere sound of their owners voice makes them come running.

So, where does this excellent recall come from? In some dogs, it just seems to be part of their personality. These dogs are typically very bonded to their owner, handler or caregiver, and they shadow them. These dogs are often referred to as velcro dogs because they stick to their owners like velcro!  

In other dogs, this attribute can be nurtured through training and the creation of a strong bond.  Food-motivated dogs can be enticed by receiving a tasty treat every time they are called. Using a "happy" voice and showering dogs with praise is another way to foster a positive association between being called and coming to the owner.

In dogs without that natural bond, obedience training is crucial (obedience training is always crucial with or without that bond!!).  Finding a quality trainer to instruct the owner on proper technique is vitally important. After all, excellent recall can literally be lifesaving for the dog. Imagine a dog racing towards a busy road.....if you are unable to make this dog stop and respond to the command "come", the consequences could be horrifying.

If a dog has excellent recall, owners can usually open the back of their SUV without fear of the dog bolting away or work in the yard without the stress of the dog taking off on a personal adventure. Obviously, good recall is important, so responsible owners should strive to train and/or nurture the bond as soon as they get a puppy or dog. Your life will be easier and your dog will be safer if you are able to accomplish this. If your dog is having problems with recall and you are not having success with it on your own, consult with a qualified trainer as soon as you can - it truly can be life saving!

For more information, check out Manners Unleashed. The clinic is designed to help dogs who need work with recall issues.

FAQ Topics



Q: I really want to adopt a puppy but I'm not sure I'm ready to handle a young dog. Do you have advice?

A: Puppies are cuddly, adorable and oh so much fun! But, they are also A LOT of work. Are you really ready to be committed to the needs of a new puppy? Ready for the training (potty, crate and obedience)?? Committed to raising a puppy that will be a wonderful dog?

Being prepared means more than having a collar, leash, crate and bowls. New owners need to consider all aspects before diving into the puppy process. These sweet babies need an owner who is dedicated to starting things off on the right foot. Teaching good manners (no biting, chewing, jumping), working on potty training and crate training from day one, and looking ahead to the needs of an adolescent and adult dog.

Puppy ownership is DOG ownership and the faint of heart should not jump in on a whim (especially if motivated by the pleading of their children) and most importantly if they aren't willing to commit to ownership for the lifetime of the dog. Nothing is worse than bringing a puppy home and then turning your back on your responsibilities after several weeks or months because it's just "too hard". Or worse yet, making it through the cute puppy months and then rehoming your companion or taking him or her to a shelter when the sweet puppy breath smell has faded and the gangly pup or rambunctious adolescent dog's sweet puppy looks have faded.

So, know what you are signing up for if you want to adopt a puppy. What should you expect?

  • Expect to get up throughout the night to attend to potty needs (probably every 2-3 hours for a 8-12 week old puppy)
  • Expect to keep the puppy on a lead during this time or resign yourself to cleaning up random messes if you don't make it outside in time (it takes up to 6 months to fully potty train a puppy due to their bladder size)
  • Expect to listen to crying when the puppy is away from you. Dogs are pack animals and want to be WITH their people, so if you are away from them, most likely they will cry. There will be an acclimation period as your puppy learns to use his/her crate

Be committed to finding a puppy training class to start your dog off on the right foot to learn good obedience and manners. Studies show that puppies' brains are 80% developed by the young age of 16 weeks. So you need to start early! Be committed to socializing your puppy to avoid fear issues in the months to come.

If this is your first puppy (dog) ever, expect to adjust your schedule. If you are used to taking off for extended weekends or even long nights out on the town, you should realize that a puppy (soon to be a dog) has needs that must be considered first. If you take the step to adopt, or buy, a puppy, don't resent that puppy when you are inconvenienced down the road. Be prepared and know what you are signing up for - a lot of work on the front end, and a devoted, loving companion for many years afterwards.

FAQ Topics


Food-related

Q: I heard that some dogs like raisins as treats. Are they safe?

Q: What is bloat?

Q:I heard that some dogs like raisins as treats. Are they safe?

A: No! Beware of raisins and grapes! Just a small amount of these sweet treasures can cause acute renal failure in dogs, a trend first noted by the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Although the exact cause of the renal failure from ingestion of grapes is not known, the effects are real and frightening.

Dogs suffering from the affects of grape and/or raisin toxicity typically exhibit vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort within the first two hours of ingestion. You may also note weakness, increased thirst, and a general lack of appetite. If you know that your dog has ingested grapes or raisins or suspect that they may have, an immediate trip to the veterinarian is essential.

Treatment within the first 2 hours typically includes the induction of vomiting. If a greater span of time has passed, activated charcoal may be utilized to help absorb the toxin from the intestines. However, the prognosis for dogs that have already shown advanced signs of toxicity is guarded at best. Safeguarding against the initial ingestion of the grapes or raisins should be first and foremost, as the consequences after the fact are too severe. Awareness of the danger by all members of the family and guests of the home is paramount.

Read more here.    

FAQ Topics


Q: What is bloat?

A: Gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV (more commonly known as bloat) is a serious, sometimes life-threatening condition that is most commonly found in deep chested German Shepherds. 

Overeating, especially in puppies, can cause a simple form of gastric distention. Belching and/or vomiting usually relieve this problem. However, if the stomach twists (torsion or volvulus) the blood supply to the stomach and/or intestines can become blocked and the tissues begin to die. The hallmark signs of GDV are abdominal distention or swollen stomach, salivating and retching. Anorexia, restlessness, lethargy, depression, rapid heartbeat and weakness are additional signs of this serious ailment. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from GDV, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible as this is a genuine emergency and time is of the essence. In most cases, surgery will be required to save the dog; however, recovery can not always be guaranteed. Additionally, the procedure is costly and recovery is long.

To avoid this dangerous condition, prevention is of the utmost importance. Feed your dog smaller portions two to three meals a day and do not exercise your dog for two hours after a meal. In this case, as with so many others, an ounce of prevention can make the ultimate difference in the well-being of your dog.

FAQ Topics


Fostering

Q:  I don’t think I can foster because I would get too attached and want to keep every dog. How can you foster a dog and then let it go?

Q: I don’t think I can foster because I would get too attached and want to keep every dog. How can you foster a dog and then let it go? 

A: We are asked this fostering question all the time. Fostering is great for:

  • A dog lover who is horrified by the dogs dying in shelters and who wants to do something - anything - to help. This person can make a huge difference in the life of the dog that they foster and help another dog make it out of the shelter alive
  • A person who already has a complete dog family. In other words, they are not looking for another dog and are happy with their current situation. You are less likely to be tempted to keep your foster dog if you are happy with the way that your household is. Also, you are helping another dog make it to their forever family and can feel great about your part in the process
  • An individual who is considering a second or third dog to their family. What better way to pick a companion than to test-drive them in your own household? If you find a dog that fits your family's dynamics perfectly, then you adopt. If the dog isn't perfect at your home, you can keep him/her until they meet the family that has the perfect dynamics

There can be a combination of all three - horrified by the dying at shelters, 99% content with the dog family, but possibly looking for that perfect dog out there - he or she is out there waiting, but can help many others in the interim.

Again, fostering is extremely gratifying; feeling good about your part in the process and helping save a life in your quest for the perfect companion.

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