The Dog I've Always Wanted

Canine Behavior, Training and Photography

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Live From The Field

May 26th, 2008 · · Book Reviews, Live From The Field

A recent email from a friend….

princess.jpgI’m having a hard time NOT getting this dog that’s free at the Toronto Humane Society. She looks perfect. It’s a puggle [pug beagle mix].

How do i make sure that i don’t go downtown tomorrow and pick her up?

My best advice to you is to pick up a copy of Sue Sternberg’s book “Successful Dog Adoption”. It is a very comprehensive guide to adopting a shelter dog. There is lots of very useful and interesting information available to the would-be dog adopter. In the first place you should ask yourself: is this really something that is going to work out for you and for the dog? Sue Sternberg’s book outlines all the steps in the process of finding the right dog to adopt and ensuring that the dog makes a successful transition into its new home.

This is a book for the serious owner who is prepared to make a substantial commitment of time and effort to the entire process. Impulse should not play any part in the adopting of a dog. There are ways to be almost certain that the dog that you bring into your home will be a pleasure not a nuisance or a danger to yourself, your children, or your neighbours.

Sue Sternberg is well known in the shelter world as the inventor of the Assess-a-Hand. This device consists of a fake rubber hand attached to a stick and is used in the temperament testing of dogs to screen them for adoption. Her original temperament test which is known as Assess-a-Pet is outlined in her chapter “How Do I Meet the Dogs?”. She offers plenty of detailed advice on how to evaluate a shelter dog. And she makes a clear distinction between the parts of the test that anyone could manage to do and those that are best left to the animal professional.

This book is an excellent resource. I particularly like the fact that it contains information on so many topics; there is a lot about play and different styles of play, about basic training practices, and about socialization. She addresses some of the thornier issues that face the contemporary dog adopter. For example there is a chapter entitled, “To Pit Bull or Not To Pit Bull?”

If you are considering adopting a dog and only want to read one book it should be this one.


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