Pet Expressway for Dogs

Types of Dogs Adopted from Animal Shelters

Types of Dogs Adopted from Animal Shelters

Many times you can find a litter of puppies available for adoption at the animal shelter. Some regions of the country have this availability more than others. However, a puppy may not fit your current lifestyle so a teenage or adult dog at the shelter may be a more natural fit for you.

3 Main Types of Adopted Dogs

  1. Owner Surrender Dog
  2. Previously Owned Stray Dog
  3. Stray Street Dog

1. Owner Surrender

An “Owner Surrender” is a dog who was in a previous home, and for one of a variety of circumstances, was given up for adoption. Dogs from this origin can have challenges and issues that can somewhat be predicted because the animal shelter has undoubtedly received a good deal of information on this dog’s personality and home circumstances.

2. Previously Owned Stray Dog

A ‘Previously Owned Stray Dog” can be a bit of a mystery to an animal shelter. The reason behind this is that even though the dog has lived in a home, the animal shelter has no information relative to their personality and home circumstance. The previous owner is of unknown origin.

An example of this would be perhaps a teenage or adult dog who was found roaming the streets of a neighborhood for a long time and has been relying upon survival instincts and the kindness of strangers for food, water and shelter.

3. Stray Street Dog

A ” Stray Street Dog” is a dog who has never been in a home and a  “Previously Owned Stray Dog” is a dog who was lost or let out on the street by his previous owner.

A “Stray Street Dog ” can be the biggest conundrum of all, because the dog has no experience living in a home nor does the shelter have any information on the dog’s life experiences or personality.

Examples of a “Stray Street Dog’ would be a dog who was literally born in the bushes, never in a home.

– Sato Dog Project

Another example would be a Sato Dog aka Puerto Rico dog. This is a dog who has lived wild in Puerto Rico. Sato Dogs are now very prevalent in the United States due to organizations such as the Sato Project. They provide these dogs with passage to the USA and then place them in homes and animal shelters for adoption.

 – Soi Dog Foundation

Another example would be Soi Dog Foundation which rescues stray dogs who are part of the Asian Meat Trade and finds them homes in American and other countries.

Unless you adopted your stray dog from an organization such as the Sato Project or Soi Dog, you may not know whether your Stray Dog is a Street Stray or a Previously Owned Stray. Sometimes a previously owned stray will still have a dog collar on or seems to understand basic commands. But there is no way to tell other than these common-sense cues.

These descriptions are not meant to discourage you from adopting a Stray vs an Owner Surrender. They are merely being presented to help you better understand the journey you are about to undertake when you adopt a dog.

Some people want to adopt a dog who had a difficult go of it because they feel they have a talent and social responsibility to rescue and help a dog in need. They find this to be a very rewarding experience.

Others just want to adopt a dog for companionship, and do not have the time or skill, or desire to welcome a hard to handle or troubled dog into their home. Others have physical, emotional, or mental limitations which may preclude them from adopting a challenging dog.

Advice & Tips When Adopting A Shelter Dog

Here is some general advice to consider when adopting a dog from the shelter, whether it be a Street Stray, Previously Owned Stray, or Owner Surrender. These tips should help you decide which type of canine situation is best suited for your personality and lifestyle. These tips are broken down by category of dog.

New Sounds & Sights

If your newly adopted stray dog is ‘Street Born’, he has probably never heard the sights and sounds of a household. Things we and most well-adjusted house dogs take for granted may be horrifying or anxiety producing for the “Street Born Stray”.

Things such as a vacuum cleaner moving and humming. The sound of the dishwasher and the motion of the ceiling fan. All of these things are novel sights and sounds to a true street stray dog. The dog has absolutely no previous home experience. Never seen a coffee table,, a soft, comfortable couch, or a bed and has never heard an alarm clock.

Dogs of this circumstance will need to be acclimated. So if you are adopting a Street Stray, your advice is to simply “know this” and be prepared to be patient and put in the work to guide him through the transition.

No Over-Reacting

One behavioral tip for these household issues is not to overreact to the dog’s fear and anxiety by overemphasizing it with excessive petting and protecting behaviors. These actions are approval re-enforcers.

You do not want to reinforce fear by approving of it unwittingly by petting and commiserating with the dog. This will convince him that there is something to indeed be afraid of. If your dog is fearful, act as if the noise coming from the washing machine is ‘no big deal ‘ and inconsequential.

In most cases, your new dog will learn over time by your reaction that there is nothing to worry about. If he does not acclimate to the sight and sounds of your home you can look at the information on dealing with fearful dogs.

If your newly adopted stray dog was “Previously Owned”, this notion of being afraid of everyday household items may not be an issue. However, there may be issues that will pop up directly due to his past.

Remember, all you really know about this stray dog is what the shelter staff has learned in the short time that they have been taking care of him. This dog’s likes and dislikes, fears and joys, past experiences whether they be good or bad are a mystery to everyone.

Period of Confusion

His personality and home experiences will be found out through trial and error. For example, the dog may resist when you try to invite him onto the couch because he was not allowed on the couch in his previous home. Or he may drink from the toilet bowl because no one in his previous home told him that it was wrong.

Just know that all of these things will change into what you want them to be by redirecting his behavior and teaching him rules and boundaries.

For any stray dog being adopted, Street Stray or Previously Owned Stray, there will be a period of confusion when moving into his new home with you.

He may flinch when someone tries to pet him or he may crouch when someone stands up abruptly. The dog may jump at startling sounds or even duck when you bring out the broom to sweep the floors. Believe it or not, this does not necessarily mean that your stray dog was abused. They could be overreacting due to nervousness and confusion. Not every stray dog in the world beat with a broom

Unfortunately in many cases, stray dogs suffer from neglect. No one cared enough to teach, love, properly discipline and communicate with this dog. The neglected dog will learn quickly that you do care enough to replace his sad past with a secure future. You do this by giving him time to adjust, attention, affection, and proper training. Before you know it, your stray dog will transition into a wonderful pet.

Reason For Surrender

The dog surrendered by his owner will also have potential issues adjusting to his new home. There is a myriad of reasons why dogs are given up by their owner.

The reason could be behavioral. Lack of training, unsuccessfully housebroken, destructive when left alone, too active for the family, not active enough for the family. The behavioral reasons are endless.

The dog could also have been given up due to the owner’s misfortune. Perhaps the owner became too ill to care for the dog, or passed away or maybe the owner lost their job or their home was foreclosed upon.

Make sure you get as many details as possible as to the ‘Reason for Surrender’ when you inquire about this type of dog. This knowledge will better help you figure out if this is a dog you can take on.

If the reason is behavioral, you’ll need to be prepared to take on this specific behavioral issue. The problem will not just go away magically on its own because the dog is in a new home. It should however resolve over time with proper training and attention on your part.

If the ‘Reason for Surrender’ is due to owner’s health or financial circumstances, that does not mean this dog is without issues. He will still need to transition from missing his old family to loving his new one, learning your personality and household rules.

6 – 12 Week Adjustment

For any dog, Street Stray, Previously Owned Stray, or Owner Surrender, it takes 6 to 12 weeks for him to adjust to his new home. His behavior will change as he begins to relax and as he learns he is in a safe, trustworthy environment. It is only then that the dog’s true personality will come to the forefront.

With guidance, training, and time; the transition will result in a wonderful canine companion. Your most important task is to choose the circumstance that you feel you can best handle and be can be successful at based on your personality and lifestyle.

Remember if you take on a dog you are not equipped to handle, he may end up back at the shelter. Be fair to the dog and yourself as you try and decide which dog is a fit for you.

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Keith Byrne

Keith Byrne

From an early age Keith has been around dogs. He has been involved in dog grooming, dog walking, dog sitting and dog showing as well as voluntary work in animal shelters. His aim is to help all dog owners especially newbies learn about dogs and care for them in a loving, caring and fun way.


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