The assumption shelter dogs are more likely to have behavioural problems is not necessarily backed up by evidence.

A review by the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour challenged the assumption that shelter dogs have relationship-breaking behavioural incompatibilities by arguing that the negative perception towards them is not based on biological data but on social constructs.

Sam March, Shelter Manager at the Animal Welfare League NSW, the location of Channel 10’s The Dog House, said misconceptions surrounding shelter dogs are that they are surrendered to a shelter due to behavioural issues or are “broken” and won’t make a suitable family pet.

“Unfortunately, the impact of these misconceptions is that people who are looking to adopt a dog end up purchasing from a breeder or pet store rather than a shelter, resulting in dogs’ length of stay extending in the shelter whilst waiting to meet their new family.”

The Animal Welfare League NSW sees hundreds of dogs come through its doors each year who are successfully rehomed either with or without rehabilitation prior to rehoming.

“At Animal Welfare League NSW we ensure our dogs are microchipped, vaccinated, flea and worm treated, desexed and have had a full health check from our veterinarians. Our dogs are behaviourally assessed to ensure we can find the most suitable home to not only for the dog, but also to match the new family’s lifestyle.”

The review conducted a study of relinquished dogs and owned dogs and found an increased risk of relinquishment if the dogs soiled at home, displayed fear, hyperactivity, or destructive behaviour. However, it stated these behaviours may not necessarily be dog-problems but rather the product of owner and environment factors.

March urged those looking to acquire a pet to look past the misconceptions and consider adopting a pet as opposed to buying one.

“By adopting you are giving a beautiful dog a second chance at life and reducing the amount of abandoned, surrendered, abused and neglected animals that find themselves in shelters all around the world. These dogs want nothing more than a loving family who will meet all their needs whilst also having a warm bed to sleep on at night.

“Animals come into our care for many reasons with an array of backgrounds however they are extremely forgiving regardless of what their past may entail.”

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