Disposable Dogs? We Need to be Accountable for Our Behaviour.

I’ve wanted to write about this subject for a very long time. It’s not something that has just cropped up in the past year or so, but has actually been an ongoing and distressful issue for me.

When did our faithful canine friends become disposable?

Why do we have this epidemic of discarded dogs? Pre-loved canines who have done nothing but be dogs.  And even more concerning, why has this trend become even more prevalent in the 21st century? Is it possible that we actually forgotten the intrinsic value of the precious dog/human relationship?

I’ve worked in – and for – numerous Rescues for many, many years and it is always heartbreaking when you witness the extraordinary amount of young and old, big and small, pedigree and non-pedigree dogs handed over to the local dog pounds, rescues and shelters. The reasons? There’s a very long laundry list of reasons – and excuses – but most of them stem from the single fact that the family dog was an idea not well thought-out.

It all starts one day when someone impulsively suggests, ‘Let’s get a dog!’ Perhaps it’s one partner to another, or one friend to another friend or even a child to their parent and guess what? They do. In a mere blink of an eye, they’ve booted up the old laptop, searched the free ads (and adorable pictures) of dogs needing new homes and within a day or two, they have a new member of the family to love. Just as easy as that!

That’s why I think rescues are struggling at the moment,  full to the brim with lovely animals that are still there months later. You see, rescues make you re-examine that impulsive statement (Let’s get a dog!) and Make You Think it Through Step-by-Step. Where will the dog sleep? What will he eat? Can you afford the proper kind of food for the breed of dog you want? Do you really have time for a dog especially when it comes to training and daily exercise? Does the breed of dog you think you want really fit into your family’s lifestyle? What if the dog becomes ill? Can you afford medical treatment? And what do you do with that K9 family member when you go away on holiday?

Yes, the rescues make you think through this impulse before acting. So why would someone who is more interested in satisfying the “instant gratification” of owning the latest ‘trend’ of the most-popular-dog-breed, go through all the application forms, personal home checks and make a written commitment of being accountable and responsible for this animal, when they can just phone up a complete stranger from an online ad and buy that “instant gratification” from an unscrupulous puppy breeder who only cares about making a profit.

They won’t, because it’s easier not to. Too easy.

It has become all too easy for many people to go down this unscrupulous-puppy-breeder-road and money is certainly not the reason! Rescues and shelters have their dogs vetted, vaccinated and neutered and then ask for a mere pittance in comparison to the price some pedigree dogs are being sold for (and we can be talking hundreds into thousand pounds (or dollars) for some of these breeds). And some of these unscrupulous breeders never give a guarantee of health (because most of them can’t considering the conditions under which they breed), let alone anything else.

So what happens once that cute, little doggy – who just makes your heart melt – comes home?

Once that sweet-faced puppy comes home, too many people suddenly find themselves in complete and utter shock over how much work that cute little Daisy, Inca or Jimbo really are! The constant mess, the expense of all that food they eat .. every day! And the biting and scratching of those (remember, “cute”) little puppy nails and teeth; on you, your new furniture and of course, your favorite pair of leather shoes! Wasn’t this supposed to be “Easy?”

The problem with “wannabe’s” is that they see someone with a beautiful, well-mannered and affectionate dog and they want one too … now! What these same people don’t see (or understand) is that anyone who is good at something will make it look easy; and very responsible dog owners have (out of sight of the wannabe) put a lot of time, knowledge, effort and hard work into creating (and maintaining) a solid relationship with their dog.  This is what separates the “wannabe” from the reality of a good dog owner.

A Good Owner will seek Help

There is a huge difference between someone who wants to learn more about owning a dog because they love their dog and want to do the right thing and someone who just can’t be bothered after the instant gratification part has been satisfied (whom I call the “Trophy Owner”). Unfortunately, there are fast becoming a lot of Trophy Owners in this world and it is at the detriment of our most beloved pets.

Thankfully, what warms my heart are the Honest, Sensible and Rational people of this world who don’t want to contribute to the growing epidemic of disposable dogs. These good owners proactively seek help in establishing the proper relationship with their family pet and addressing issues before they get out of control. They learn about – and then incorporate – the necessary boundaries, discipline and leadership required by their dog to be a fulfilled member of the family. It’s these kind of people who will be good dog owners all of their lives; and with every dog that comes into their home, there will be love, kindness and a better understanding of all the facets of good dog ownership. And because of this understanding and commitment, they will always enjoy a close relationship with their dog whether they are playing, going places together or just cuddling on the couch.

We need more responsible people like this to keep more dogs out of the rescues throughout the country. If we continue as we are, we are heading for a disaster that will affect the health and mental well-being of all our dogs in the very near future.

And truly, what does that say about our society?

Responsibility doesn’t end when you have had enough of the puddles on the floor, the chewing, the howling, the barking, the pulling, the digging, the jumping, the growling and the over-excitedness.

Actually, that’s exactly when your responsibility kicks into overdrive; because your dog is telling you that your behaviour has created their behaviour. These out-of-control behaviours are a symptom that something important is missing in your relationship.

All negative, destructive and excited behaviours can be changed into more appropriate and positive actions by teaching our dogs an alternative and better behaviour. That is the responsibility of every dog owner … just as it is for every parent with their children. We don’t expect children to come fully trained with only the behaviours we like. It’s the same with the dogs we bring into our homes. Teach them kindly and consistently, reward positively and reap the lifelong rewards of a truely wonderful human/canine partnership. 

Did you find this article interesting? Let us know by leaving a message below and sharing it with other dog owners too!

For more information about the Dog Owners Coach, or to book a consultation, please visit my website at www.4dogenterprises.com/coaching or find me on Facebook at The Dog Owners Coach.

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15 responses to “Disposable Dogs? We Need to be Accountable for Our Behaviour.”

  1. Sylvia says :

    Very well and informatively written. So true and so easy to understand if people who get dogs without thinking, would just read this article. I believe it would make them think a little harder on their decision making of getting a pet. I love all my four dogs and one cat. and yes they are a lot of work, expense, and yes constant barking that drives most who enetr our home, nuts! But they are ours and will remain our pets until their end of life.

    • 4dogday says :

      Thank you Sylvia, I wish all dog and cat owners spoke about there pets that way, as part of their family, no matter what. We need more people like you and please share the article with your animal loving friends! 🙂

  2. B Wallace says :

    Well said ! I’ve worked dog rescue since 1999. Could not have said it better

    • 4dogday says :

      Thank you B Wallace, there’s a long road ahead for all our canine friends and we have to do better by them than just saving as many as we can while others breed indiscriminently to make money. It’s an infuriatingly vicious circle when there are no laws to finally ban puppy farming in our or our dogs future.

  3. Mick says :

    Good evening.
    I agree with the article but how do we stop the problem. A few suggestions. We should have to get a dog license before we get the dog. This will stop the ” lets get a dog ” people. Have the licenses available from shelters only. That way a person will have to have contact with someone who can give information and education regarding dog ownership. The biggest problem will be enforcement of the above.
    Thanks
    Mick

    • 4dogday says :

      Mick, you have some great ideas. Here in N.Ireland and the UK dog licenses are mandatory but that doesn’t seem to have an impact on responsibility as the responsible ones have their dogs licensed and the others dont! I like the idea of getting them from shelters and rescues so that people get the right info but would this put even more pressure on these mostly charitable organisations to deal with the paperwork when they are the ones most under pressure? There has to be an answer where governments/ councils can work along with the country’s animal welfare groups and shelters to work something into legislation in this day and age. Thank you for you input, time we put our thinking caps on! 🙂

  4. Dave Ste says :

    In observation I have noticed that some people make a connection with a pet and some do not, or perhaps not as strong. The individuals that make the connection would certainly risk their life for their pet, the others are the ones that leave their pets behind when they move or give their senior pets away when they don’t meet their owners lifestyle.

    The connection is typically referred to as love for the individuals that make a connection, for the others, their pets are just a pet, something to own like a car or item.

    I have also seen this in human families where parent, siblings, do not connect with other family members. We can see this in estrangement of family members as adults as well.

    Perhaps in a world where we jump from job to job or house to house our connection sense is told not to make that connection to protect us from stress or worry. Perhaps the chemicals we ingest are not allowing us to make stron connections or bonding connections to domesticated animals anymore. Or just perhaps it’s been this way for a very long time and we are just finally starting to realize it through stats that are being collected.

    For me, it seems that families that are connected to their pet seem to be connected to their parents and siblings as well. So I typically divide pet owners into two groups, the connection group and the non connected group.

    • 4dogday says :

      Dave this is a very insightful observation and one I am very interested in finding out more about. It does make a lot of sense that our environment and what we put in and on our bodies can disrupt these chemical and electrical pathways, which is of course how our brain works. Very interesting and thank you so much for your input and opinion

  5. Kirsten Rose CPDT-KA says :

    Really enjoyed this article. We must simply just do a better job.

  6. Mayda Diaz says :

    As a cross poster/helper for sheltered animals in the US, independent rescuer, donor & adopter I can say that suffering & deaths of animals arriving to shelters will not be eased until puppy mills/backyard breeders stop the production of dogs for money. “Wastes”, unsold animals are thrown non stop in shelters! These dogs that are suffering and dying are also causing that REAL HOMELESS, REAL STRAY, REAL NEEDY dogs could not get a chance to survive shelter! Dissadvantaged dogs see their possibilities vanish because the same people that protest against puppy mills are the ones adopting their products in shelters! What people is criticizing, people is supporting! In the case of US and very probably everywhere dissadvantaged ones are: Pit bulls, Bull type, OLD!, OLD & SICK (yes two classifications, marked discrimination) Dissabeled, Sick, BIG!, Black, Common looking, Less appealing (?) (Sadly, this description is commonly heard among potential adopters/animal lovers..?), Victims of foreclossure, For Second Time in Shelter!, Deemed as agressive (fear), Used as bait! Pregnant (worst if bull type), Mommas & pups (worst if bull type) and Orphans /Orphans to be<These are the most ignored dogs in the world…( I have too many names in my heart!) Licensing puppy mills will only make problem worse, more animals will die in general and the only ones with the possibilty to make a prosperus business would be puppy mills. Cities/states will need to continue to invest money in the crontrol of population through killing and it will continue to be an investment that produce 0 benefit!!! Money that could otherwise be used to support health and education! Even to support/ make posible a program to follow up adopted animals and animals at the hands of any owner. A PRO LIFE control of the population! Los Angeles city saw this and is trying to aleviate the problem by banning the selling of dogs other than sheltered ones at pet stores but that will not end with the problem because puppy mills keep throwing dogs in shelters! Not to mention that oppoportunities of dissadvantaged ones to survive shelters will be almost none! Only dogs with "more opportunity" will logically be the ones shown in stores!!!!!! Needy souls will die in far bigger amounts!!!!! They are the ones making death statistics sky rocket!!!! THEY DIE!!!!!!! ——— Dogs sold by puppy mills go to new homes "complete" and almost every new owner wants to reproduce animals to make money too PERPETUATING THIS WAY THE CICLE OF BREEDING-SUFFERING-DYING!!!!!!!!!
    In the case of the EU there are trucks loaded with puppies crossing countries to be sold in other places far from place of birth and they are sold by the weight to wholesalers! If some die,the loss is less than if value is expressed in terms of diferentiated units….. and the die.They are sold like meat and many people buy them as if they were objects! Many are sick and can cost new owners a lot of money to try to save them.
    In the US dogs/cats are adopted from shelters but through rescues mainly. Dogs adopted from rescues are said to be cheaper than adopting directly from shelters. This way, too many rescues are giving preference to those smaller "standard beauty" type dogs too because they "sell" (are adopted) easier. Dogs that are commonly related to small breeds and coming from puppy mills. – Dogs from authentic reputable breeders do not end in shelters and can be follow by lines and DNA identification.- Dogs, whose parents customers can see and even grandparents etc… Dogs coming from puppy mills in it's majority cannot be guaranteed to be of X quality or say who the parents/lines were etc… Too many are born sick or defective and only later the owner will notice. Why licensing puppy mills that will not sell prime quality products? Why risking that dogs born to suffer? Why letting dogs that are sentient beings be unofficialy categorized as of better or lower quality? Worse: best or lower quality based on risk related to health? And, what good does this make to reputable breeders whose inversion and responsability is much higher than that of puppy mills/backyard breeders? Why not educating people to understand what a sentient being is and to give importance to life? If someone want a dog from x breed and don't have the money to buy, why not go on saving money until the desired amount is achieve to buy a dog from a good breeder? And, why not adopting homeless, stray dogs and give an opportunity to live? If you live in the EU, you have the advantage that the union embraced the Lisbon Treatise and is COMPROMISED with the achievement of a WELFARE status for ALL the animals in the world. If you live in the US, there is the same compromise but it is not in exercised everywhere with the same enthusiasm- we still have gas chambers like Ukraine and it is said that there are places that kill by electrocution. In any case, the inmense majority of animals IS NOT SURVIVING SHELTER. Many, die by intracardiac injection. I have seen no one talking about the administration of a previous anesthesia. (who knows!) Ask a cardiologist if that could hurt… If a dog gets sick in a shelter, cross posters/helpers are the ones gathering money to help rescues pay shelter for the dog adoption fees and pay for vet fees! Cross posters/helpers are "there" for animals 24/7 but they are common people from middle class in it's majority that are sacrificing for those animals.But, they are doing more than they can and cannot save all! They do the 99 3/4% of the work of saving dogs/cats! Until when? How? They are dried and disheartened and many are abandoning their intention to save animals because they simply cannot keep going. Cannot compete with death… This is the reality of sheltered dogs and it will get worse because people is adopting less, older people (95%) do not want to have animals and population is ageing… make numbers to appreciate the inminent progression of suffering and death.Even the smaller ones will die! Only through a ban to puppy mills cities would recover economically enough to implement a sensible pro life control of the population: common dogs at the hands of owners, adopted from shelters and bought from sellers whichever they have been. Then a NO KILL status to help real needy animals survive. That would keep shelters going, growing, making money and NOT HAVING TO KILL, cities would recover, ceased with the preoccupation of having to invest in killing and money could be used to achieve a better quality life for all.

    • 4dogday says :

      Thank you Mayda Diaz for your insight into this very big problem, I really apprecaite the time it took to write this. You have some good ideas here 🙂 Please share with other shelter helpers and get the conversation moving towards solutions, there are definitely answers out there, we just need to find them.

  7. tonia mcdonald says :

    So true unfortunately. Breeders should be regulated & not allowed to overbreed. I rescued a boxer that had been thrown off a puppy farm onto the motorway in 4inches of snow & left to die. Two years & many pounds later I have the most gentle loving dog who now lives life to the full despite loosing an eye due to the severe eye & ear infection she had when rescued. I would love to meet the people who did this to her and ask them to explain why. I just don’t understand the menality of some people.

    • 4dogday says :

      I totally agree Tonia, regulations and possibly Charging them for the license of some kind for ALL Breeders, whether they are hobby breeders,breeding for income, for showing purposes or whatever. They all need to understand that their actions might make them money but cost our society a lot more if they are doing this willy nilly without responsibility.

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