Author Topic: adopt or buy?  (Read 875 times)

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Offline johnbltz

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adopt or buy?
« on: September 18, 2017, 10:24:02 AM »
I'm searching for a labrador retriever as an esa, and I'm wondering what peoples' thought are on adoption vs buying. I'm leaning heavily towards adoption, I'd really rather give a homeless dog a good home. That said, I fly several times a year both for work and to go see my partner, so I'm a little concerned about ensuring any dog has the right temperament. With a breeder, I know that the dog doesn't have some breed mixed in that might make them less amenable to being around people, especially in a crowded and cramped airplane. I also worry that training an adopted dog could be significantly more difficult than a puppy, whose environment and training I can control from the get go. This is especially important as I'm new to this kind of training.

Am I overthinking this? Does anyone have experience with training an adopted dog?

Offline OlgatheGSD

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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2017, 10:42:08 AM »
I am training my adopted dog! The thing with puppies is that you never really know what you're going to be getting as an adult. A lot of dogs gain fearful tendencies once their enter adulthood, so you could have a perfectly happy go lucky puppy from the start and end up with a fear biter. Think of it as a toddler growing into an adult. Sure, you can control a lot of their environment, but as they get older they will learn things on their own and they may turn into a completely different person.

I prefer adopting for a lot of reasons. It saves a dog. You know what you're getting (I highly suggest a trainer). It saves you a ton of money. There's no potty training. Vaccines and neuter/spay are all done. You're supporting a rescue or humane society. You're temperament over breed.

On the flip side. You're getting health certifications from the parents of the puppy you are buying. You can see their temperament and have some peace that they aren't insane. You can train a puppy the way you want and socialize them.

To me, young adult dogs are worth their weight in gold and I don't think I would ever get a puppy in the future. That is my personal preference.
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Offline SandyStern

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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2017, 11:12:13 AM »
As someone who flies regularly with a service dog, I strongly suggest that you make temperament the chief consideration.  Very few shelter dogs have quiet, calm temperaments. If you go the breeder route, you should inquire about a retired mom dog or a rehome if the breeder can stand behind the dog.  Regardless of what you decide, you need to have a plan B if the dog cannot deal with the stress of airports. Even the nicest dog can flip out over the slippery, shiny floors, loud noise, and then being crammed into a space like a sardine. If your dog can't deal with flying, what will you do?

A couple other things to think about. When traveling with an ESA, you do not have the right of access to restaurants and stores, or taxis.  This can require a lot of planning ahead. Also, a smaller dog will be a lot easier to manage on a flight.

I have to say that I cannot for the life of me understand how having a dog on a plane is a comfort. I rely on my dog to get around, but the stress of air travel with him is enormous. You have to withhold food and water, which causes vomiting, and then a flight delay can mean the dog has an accident, you will encounter hostile people and aggressive dogs . . . I would not travel with a dog if I didn't need him so badly for walking.

Offline OlgatheGSD

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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2017, 11:23:22 AM »
I didn't see that you would be flying with a lab. That a whole nother can of worms. I do not suggest getting a large dog in the hopes it will travel with you in the cabin. Unless you NEED your dog, lile Sandy does, I would not recommend flying with a large dog that is an ESA. I have no intention of bringing Olga in the cabin with me because it is way too much stress on both of us to be packed in somewhere tight for 2+ hours. I'd be happier with her being boarded somewhere while I relied on a service human to help me.

Also, definitely check breeder adults for sale. That is your safest bet in my opinion. I spaced that completely earlier. Sometimes service dog programs will also sell their washouts, so you get an extremely well mannered dog who just couldn't handle service work for one reason or another but they will tell you why that dog didn't graduate the program and they can help you find the best fit.
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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2017, 11:27:38 AM »
I find flying with my golden retriever a huge comfort. Sure, there isn't a lot of leg room for me but having her support is worth it.

I think that you might have luck adopting an adult dog that has been in a foster home for a while. Foster homes allow the dog's persoanlity to come out more than a shelter and foster parents will know more about the dog's temperment than the average shelter dog.

Remember that training a dog to be stable in an airport can take a while, so plan a cushion between adoption and your first flight.
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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2017, 11:30:17 AM »
Frankly, I'm surprised how many people are implying that trained ESAs don't belong on planes, that only service dogs do. ESAs can be critical for travel for their handler and they can be critical to have at their destination. ESAs are no more optional than service dogs.
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Offline OlgatheGSD

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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2017, 11:38:13 AM »
I think it is more to do with the stress on the dog to be flying and its risk for acting out than it is their right to be there. Olga is not an ESA and I wouldn't even bring her. She would probably be fine, it's me I'm worried about. Delta flight, for example. Some dogs can't handle it.
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Offline SandyStern

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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2017, 11:51:18 AM »
I certainly did not say that ESAs don't belong on planes.
I said, and say again, that I don't think my dog enjoys flying at all, especially coast-to-coast flights. He suffers it with classic good grace and good manners, but I wish there were a way to avoid it for his sake. Here's an example.  I've got a 6 hour flight that leaves at 9 a.m.  If I feed him breakfast, most of the time he poops. But I can't risk that this will be one of the times he doesn't. So no breakfast.  Now we get to the airport, make it through TSA, get to the gate, and there's a 2-hour flight delay.  I sure can't feed him now!  So he gets ice chips, a slice of dried sweet potato each hour, and another trip to the curb for a final pee, and then we're in the air by 11.  Now we're not on the ground until 5 p.m. The poor dog has had very little water and no food since 6 p.m. the previous day. He's been on the go and in public since about 6 a.m., and had to be curled in a small space for 6 hours. Air currents run down the floor in a plane cabin, so he is often too hot or too cold. Sometimes there are seat legs that poke him. Sure, he can get up and change positions, but still. It's a lot to ask. 

I give my dog the best life I can manage for him.  At professional conferences and during long, bad days at work, I tell people that I don't expect him to work for nothing, so we're going out to play ball for 10 minutes once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Flying does not allow me to give him the consideration he deserves.

So, yeah. There are times when I see scared, stressed emotional support dogs in the airport and I question the mentality of a person who derives comfort from the situation.  I am not casting any aspersions.  I don't know these people, and if their suffering without the dog would be greater than the dog's suffering during travel, I understand.  But my puzzlement, and it truly is puzzlement, is the anxiety aspect.  Flying with my dog makes me terribly anxious, and I am not an anxious person.  So from my admittedly limited experience, it just makes no sense to me, although I have seen lap dogs who clearly do not have the same degree of stress for obvious reasons. Being carried offsets the stress greatly.

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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2017, 11:54:18 AM »
If you adopt a young adult, in particular one that has been fostered, you should do well on temperament. I'd personally rescue for an ESA or pet (and always have).

One caution on rescues: they can sometimes "puff" or exaggerate a dog's qualities to get him into a good home. So take a naturally skeptical friend or family member to help you remain objective in the final analysis.

A personal connection and attraction matters a lot for an ESA but you can also find a dog you will love who can be comfortable with flying. Ask what the dog loves to do. Look for an answer that includes car rides and meeting people without prompting them that that's what you are interested in.

Find friends and family members to meet the prospect and observe how the dog is with strangers. Ask to take him for a walk and choose a crowded park with other dogs and lots of different kinds of people (old, young, assorted ethnicities, all genders, with and without hats, facial hair, glasses, canes, walkers, wheelchairs).
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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2017, 12:02:07 PM »
Physiologically a healthy adult dog can fast (not eat) for 24 hours without harm to the dog. I'm not including dogs with health issues or digestive issues or puppies. Just healthy adults. So my dogs skip breakfast on flight days. I don't exercise vigorously at least four hours before airport arrival because that increases thirst.
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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2017, 12:29:26 PM »
A temperamentally suited ESA can handle flying with basic training. They need to be intrinsically happy souls (so labs are usually a good choice) and they need to have good manners (lie quietly without mugging neighbors). You can get sufficient training from a CGC class.

Whether ESA or SD handler, the handler must be focused on their dog and stewarding. Do not put or allow the dog in someone's face. Keep dog on floor and bend over to interact with dog. If dog shows stress, if dog growls or gives anyone stink eye, DO NOT BOARD, GET OFF PLANE BEFORE DEPARTURE, don't just hope he calms down. He's asking you for help, so get him out of the situation he can't handle. Boarding is the hardest part. Pay attention to your dog. Nothing and nobody matters but your dog and his comfort.

Pack a fabric muzzle in your carry on. Have your dog practice wearing it and be happy and confident wearing it. In an emergency, like a change of emotional state during the flight, you can guarantee your dog's safety with a well fitted muzzle. You really shouldn't have an unpredictable biting risk after the doors have closed with a dog who has passed the CGC, has always liked people in the past and was happy up to the doors closing.

Biting problems do not appear out of the blue. Not with a lab. People can fail to observe warning signs with pits and pit mixes because they can be very subtle, but not with a lab.

If the dog has met lots of people, if the dog has passed CGC, if the dog has never given warning previously, the odds of a problem after the doors close are less than one in a thousand with a lab you have known and walked in neighborhoods and parks for the last six months.

Don't take a dog you don't know. Don't take a pitbull or pitbull mix. Don't take a dog who doesn't like people. Don't take a dog who has shown aggression toward people in the past. Don't let your dog's face get in close proximity with a stranger's face.

The dog that bit in the news was a pit mix and even so he growled before biting. He was put close to a strangers face (in handlers lap) he growled to say he was uncomfortable and his handler didn't take him off the plane. That bite was handler error. The handler didn't understand his responsibilities to his dog. That situation was avoidable. That's why I'm spelling out handling rules here. What happened to that team does not have to happen. There were several points where it could have been avoided. But the handler didn't know. No villians in that case, just ignorance.
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Offline Ariel

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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2017, 01:39:48 PM »
If you're looking for an ESA, it may be very rewarding to adopt a dog and feel like you're really bringing each other a huge comfort. I wouldn't suggest going for adoption of Labs for service work without working with a trainer specifically experienced in temperament testing dogs in shelter or rescue environments and even then it's a much larger gamble than getting a dog from a responsible breeder. I agree with other posters, flying with a dog can be a huge comfort. There isn't any task Jubilee can do for me on a plane, but I do have plane anxiety and it helps just knowing she's there with me. For many who have psych issues and planes feed into that, flying with an ESA may be of benefit.
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Offline johnbltz

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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2017, 01:40:46 PM »
Thanks for all the great advice! I'm definitely going to do GKC training, so hopefully that will help. Flying with them isn't really a concern over my comfort/emotional state during flying, but rather that because of my work, and my long distance relationship, I frequently fly to destinations where I will be staying for weeks or months. I'll be finding a good dog sitter/boarding for short trips.

I really appreciate hearing people's experiences with flying, gives me a lot to think about when choosing and training my esa.

Offline swimmergirl247

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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2017, 11:45:12 AM »
Thanks for all the great advice! I'm definitely going to do GKC training, so hopefully that will help. Flying with them isn't really a concern over my comfort/emotional state during flying, but rather that because of my work, and my long distance relationship, I frequently fly to destinations where I will be staying for weeks or months. I'll be finding a good dog sitter/boarding for short trips.

I really appreciate hearing people's experiences with flying, gives me a lot to think about when choosing and training my esa.

but now I'm confused that isn't the point of an ESA flying. if that is the case you can play the pet fee or have your dog flown as a pet, or find a committed dog sitter.

I don't have issues with ESA ion flying but "if it were me and I didn't required a larger dog for task work. I'd go with a smaller dog our of convince, and comfort all around. 
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Offline Ariel

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Re: adopt or buy?
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2017, 11:53:12 AM »
I don't have issues with ESA ion flying but "if it were me and I didn't required a larger dog for task work. I'd go with a smaller dog our of convince, and comfort all around.

An ESA is not a service dog and doesn't need to know any tasks. If the OP prefers a smaller dog that's one thing, but larger dogs can provide comfort too. A smaller dog will be easier to travel by airplane with, but I guess it ultimately comes down to how much the OP will be traveling by plane with his ESA and how much of an impact it makes on him to go the extra effort if he decides on a larger breed or mix. I don't think it matters really and is totally up to the OP's preference if the ESA is well behaved during any future flights.
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