Training dogs to get adopted: Study reveals behaviors that predict longer stay in shelters
By Patrick Cullen
Growing up, we had a rescue named Jake. He was a mixed-breed, black lab and came with a lot of baggage, as most rescues do. We suspect he was abused in one of the four homes he lived in before we found him. He was difficult at times, through no fault of his own. Jake was ultimately a lovable dog with a funny personality and more than a few goofy quirks. He was my home-based sidekick, until we had to put him down at age twelve.
And to think that such a great pet and important family member, almost wasn’t. When we first visited him at the farm where he was being fostered, Jake was hyperactive and inattentive. He wanted little to do with the five of us no matter how much we tried to interact with him. At the end of a fifteen minute visit, we thanked the woman and left, having decided Jake wouldn’t be a good fit.
Disheartened that we wouldn’t be getting a dog just yet, I was the last one out of the gate. As it closed behind me, Jake jumped up and stared directly into my eyes as if to ask if we’d forgotten something. When I saw him looking at me like that, with our family in front of him and this newest, temporary home behind him, I knew he was meant for us. We took him home that day.
As the timeless expression goes, first impressions are everything. From dating to job interviews, you want to present your best self and do so quickly. Snap judgements can often make or break these sensitive interactions. As it turns out, we should be relaying this important advice to the millions upon millions of dogs who find themselves in shelters around the world. Shelters in the United States take in 3.3 million dogs every year. Many of those, sadly, will never find a home.