Finding a New Home
for your Silky Terrier

While it is usually not a quick and easy process to find the right home for particular dog or dogs, persistence and determination pays off. If we can do it, so can you. Following are some guidelines to help you succeed.

But before you lose heart or give up if you have been having problems with your dog, you should know that it's almost never too late to turn the situation around. Many behavior problems result from isolating the dog alone in the yard. Because a dog is a pack animal ~~ a highly social creature ~~ to be happy, it needs more than food, shelter and a fenced yard. A Silky Terrier is a companion animal in the truest sense ~~ it can only thrive where it is allowed to be a part of the family, interacting daily with its human pack. A good obedience class may do wonders for your dog's behavior, making it possible for you to allow it in the house. When you let your Silky become a larger part of your life, your bond will grow deeper, and you ma y find you want to keep it after all!

Moving: People who have not bonded with their dogs often decide to give up their dog when facing a move. Locating rental houses or apartments that accept dogs can be difficult, but it IS possible. A good apartment locating service or real estate agent can help.

Sometimes the situation that requires you to give up your dog is really beyond your control. However, if lack of time, planning, commitment, and training contributed to this outcome, please do some serious reflecting. If, in the future, you choose to own a dog again, be a committed, responsible owner! Think about why this dog didn't work out and how you can prevent this situation from repeating itself.

If your Silky is very old, please consider taking it to your vet to be euthanized if you absolutely can't keep it. Animals who have been with you a long time suffer enormous grief if forced to separate from you. Always remain with the dog to relieve its anxiety. A dog who has been faithful to you for many years deserves nothing less than a dignified end with you at its side.

Working to Place Your Silky Through Breed Rescue

We generate most of our applicants through our website and referrals. The majority of our applicants don't get one of our Silkys. Some lose interest when they find out that our dogs are always spayed/neutered (this is a quick way to eliminate less responsible applicants). A lot can't pass our screening process.

Our concern, as the dog's only advocate and protector, is to place it in the best home we can. This is a home where the owners recognize the financial and time commitment involved, as well as a home where the Silky is welcomed as the companion it craves to be. This means that the dog gets the obedience training necessary to allow it into the house, that it plays a part in the family's life and outings, that it is given regular exercise and play sessions, regular vet care, is kept on a heart worm preventative, and outfitted with a sturdy collar and ID tags.

If your dog has special problems that you have not been able to handle, it is vital that you be honest about this with your applicants. Withholding information can make you legally liable. The new owner is likely to get rid of the dog also and perhaps not too carefully. With your dog's life is hanging in the balance, it is up to you to find a new owner who understands the dog's problems and can cope with them.

If your dog's problems relate to aggression, we recommend that you get an evaluation and recommendations from a trainer who specializes in behavioral problems. The cost of a one hour session is usually $25 - $50. If the problem is too severe to be handled with behavior modification and a special kind of placement/home situation, you may need to consider euthanasia for the safety of others.

How to Find a Good Home for Your Silky Terrier

Once you have made the decision to find a new home for your dog, the last and best thing you can do for your Silky is to make as sure as you can that the next home is a happy and permanent placement. The decisions you make on behalf of your dog will determine not only the quality of his life, but even whether he will live or die.

Unfortunately, you will have to guard against turning your dog over to people who may present themselves as a legitimate applicants, but in reality are in the business of acquiring dogs, especially pure breed dogs for harmful purposes. Small dogs such as Silky Terriers can be and are used bait for fighting dogs, and they're sold to labs for experimentation, and tortured by occult gangs. As with any other breed or mix, sadly many are abandoned to die of starvation and disease, maimed or killed by cars, and dumped at animal pounds to face euthanasia.

Please don't rush your pet to an animal shelter. Shelters are the place of last resort for lost and abandoned animals. They are not placement centers for pets. If your dog has heartworms or even the slightest health or behavioral problems, it will be euthanized immediately in most shelters. Shelters have a difficult time placing older dogs and those with special needs. The vast majority of animals that enter shelters are euthanized.

Preparation for placement: Begin by getting your records in order. Be sure your dog is current on its shots, is spayed or neutered, is on heartworm preventative and has had a recent heartworm test. Bathe and groom your dog. Make sure its ears are clean and its nails are clipped. Outfit it with a handsome collar. Assemble a file folder with all your vet care and shot records, current rabies vaccination certificate, AKC papers if you have them, the dog's city or county dog license, receipts from your purchase of the dog, obedience school diplomas, etc. This is information you can show to potential adopters and give to the dog's new owner.

Have your dog spayed or neutered. It is one of the best and kindest things you can do for your dog's health and will increase the odds that your dog will end up in a loving home as a companion animal. This is your insurance that your dog will not end up with an unethical breeder who will exploit it as a cheap breeding source. It is also a way to do your part to end the canine suffering that results from the pet overpopulation problem -- there will always be more great dogs than there are great homes for them. There are millions of unwanted dogs in this country, including pure breeds. Counter to the image of spoiled pets leading cushy lives, only two of every ten dogs born ever gets a permanent home, and not every permanent home is a good one. DON'T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR GENERATING MORE HOMELESS SILKYS! One other strong consideration in favor of spaying/neutering your dog is that it greatly reduces the risk your pet runs of developing mammary, ovarian and /or testicular cancer.

When you begin the process of placing your dog, contact the person from whom you got the dog. Ethical breeders feel responsible for every puppy they breed.; sometimes they will take the dog back or help you find another home. Others, less responsible, may benefit from learning how often their puppies' placements don't work out.

Getting Ready to Advertise: The first step is to decide on a price or "adoption fee". NEVER offer your dog "Free to a Good Home." There really are many people constantly on the prowl for free pets (especially popular pure breeds) in order to exploit them for profit. They may seem to be the perfect home, even visiting you with children or elderly companions to gain your confidence. Asking a fair price for your dog is the best way to protect it from these con artists pretending to be good pet owners. Be wary of anyone not willing to pay a reasonable price for your dog-- do they REALLY want a companion dog? If they can't afford to pay a little, how will they pay for vet care, food, obedience class, etc.?

Here is a site that gives more information about what can happen to "free to a good home" dogs ~~ http://www.petrescue.com/library/free-pet.htm . In return the adopter should get a dog which has already had vaccinations, a heartworm test, and been spayed or neutered. A good home will not mind the adoption fee if you have saved your receipts and can document the care the dog has recently received. After all, the new owner would have to pay for all that anyway.

Finally, a more common pitfall to avoid for your dog is well-intentioned people who love the idea of a pet, but who are unprepared to choose a breed wisely, much less able to raise and train it. These are the people who seem as though they will be good owners, but when you check back with them six months later, they're singing a different tune that goes "Oh I had to get rid of the dog..."

Therefore, even when dealing with nice people you must carefully screen your potential buyers.

Placing ads: Advertise in as many places as possible including your work place, volunteer organizations, etc. Use community newspapers and newsletters in addition to major newspapers. (Note: Some papers have more than one pet category with different ad criteria ,and a price difference between the "pet for sale" and "needs good home" categories. In the latter, you may be prohibited from listing a price.) Make sure that your ad includes a concise description of your dog, such as breed/sex/age, your phone number, and your requirements . Based upon your knowledge of your dog's temperament and habits, decide on the kind of home you want it to have, and be prepared to state your requirements such as: No cats; no same sex dogs; doesn't do well with other pets; fine with older kids; this mature family pet would be good for senior citizens; well behaved housedog.

Be ready to emphasize your dog's strong points. Is s/he friendly, housebroken, obedience trained, good with kids, other pets, cats, a good traveler in the car , etc. ? Also be honest about problems if you aren't, you're setting the placement up for failure. If the dog has a bad habit or problem, the new owners had better be able to cope or they will end up getting rid of the dog.

Interview everyone who responds to your ads. Don't be afraid to ask for references and for the name and phone number of the applicant's vet. Be sure they know about the costs and vet care needed to keep a dog healthy. Find out the ages of any children or grandchildren that share the home, and if there are other pets. Ask if they've had dogs before, and if so, what happened to those dogs. Look for a home that has kept dogs from youth to old age. Find out the circumstances of those who have had dogs lost, stolen or given away your dog could end up the same way.

Avoid parents who are getting a dog "for the kids" unless the parents really want the dog themselves. Dogs need mature interaction and will make more work for adults in the household. Be sure they understand that Silky Terriers are active, very social dogs that need a lot of human attention and require training. During the interview, phrase your questions so as to NOT reveal the answer you are looking for. For instance ask: "Will you keep the dog inside or outside?" rather than "You will keep the dog inside, won't you?" Trust your intuition, and don't hesitate to turn away a caller if something just doesn't seem right. Be picky and hold out for the right home for your dog.

Be honest with callers and tell all you know about the dog's behavior and health. You may hide or lie about a problem during the interview, but once the dog is adopted, the new owner will find out soon enough and may try to return the dog to you, or worse yet, might try to sue you!

Here are some questions that shelters and rescue groups use to screen applicants for their dogs:

  • What are the occupations of the adults in the household?
  • Where are you employed?
  • Do you own or rent?
  • Do you have a fenced yard? What kind of fence?
  • Do you have other pets at home now?
  • Are the other pets spayed/neutered, on heart worm preventative?
  • Who is your vet?
  • How will you discipline the dog? Exercise it?
  • How will you control fleas?
  • Have you ever taken a dog to obedience classes?
  • Have you read any books on dog care/training?
  • How will you transport the dog? (Do they understand the danger of transporting a dog loose in the back of a pick-up ?)
  • Will the dog be kept in or out?
  • Where will the dog sleep?
  • How much time do you have to spend with a dog?

Questions for the applicant's vet: Explain that "Mr. And Mrs. Doe" are interested in adopting your dog and you want to make sure the dog will get a good home. Ask whether their pets get regular care, have been spayed or neutered, and are on heart worm preventative.

Questions for the personal reference: Ask how long they have known The Does, how are their pets cared for, what kind of fence do they have, (this indicates how well they actually know The Does), what kind of interests and hobbies they have, do their dogs stay in or out, and would they give a dog to The Does.

Once you have an interested caller that passes your phone interview, arrange a visit. However, be cautious about inviting strangers to your home. Meeting them at a public place such as a close by pet store may be safer. Have the potential adopter bring their entire family. It is important that everyone in the household meet and get along with the dog. Even if the dog is "for my wife (or husband)," if the spouse dislikes the dog there will be problems! If the adopter already has a dog, arrange for that dog to come visit also to be sure the two will get along. However, introduce the dogs on neutral territory like a park or school playground.

A good home means a good fit between dog and owner. Silkys with good, stable temperaments are very good with children, but supervision with young children is vital. Make sure that the adopting family understands that going to a new home is stressful for the dog and a period of mourning and adjustment is to be expected. Even a housebroken dog will probably have some accidents the first few days. Don't place extra pressure on the dog with baths, obedience exercises, etc. before it is settled in. Provide the new family with a written list of the dog's food, medication, schedule, etc. Send some favorite toys and a blanket with the dog to help it feel more secure. Don't forget to remind them about how vital it is to keep the dog on a heartworm mediation and to outfit it with a sturdy collar and ID tags. Make sure the new family understands that Silkys must be kept on-leash or in a fenced area at all times when they are outdoors.

Consider having the adopter sign a contract. A sample contract that you might want to use, or adapt to your specific needs, can be found at http://www.petrescue.com/library/adoption-form1.pdf. You should allow 1-3 months to find your Silky a new home, depending upon the time of year and your dog (age, health, manners and behavior). It is time well spent. You will have peace of mind knowing that your dog is safe, loved, and cared for; you will not be lying awake at night wondering if it's been euthanized in a shelter or hit by a car on the highway! Remember: Silkys are a popular breed and there IS a demand for adult dogs. You CAN find your dog a GOOD home!

Warning: If your dog has a history of truly aggressive behavior such as severely injuring or biting (breaking the skin) of people, children, cats, or dogs, you may be legally liable for any actions of that dog, even after it goes to another home. In such a situation, the best action may be to have the dog euthanized. It is a difficult choice, but aggressive behavior is dangerous in any breed, even a small breed such as a silky, and can only result in injury and pain to the dog's victims, and poses the potential threat of a lawsuit for you.

One last thought: It might be well to reconsider if you really need to give up your pet. There are many situations such as relocations, divorces, new jobs, sickness or even death in the family that can require people to find a new home for their pets. Many families purchase a puppy on impulse only to find when the puppy grows older, that owning an active dog is not compatible with their lifestyle.

Probably the most common reason that people seek to place a dog are behavioral problems such as inability to sufficiently housetrain, excessive digging or chewing, jumping up on small children and excessive barking. However, behavior problems can usually be corrected with proper training combined with giving the dog more attention, and allowing the dog to live inside the house as a companion to your family. True, this demands a major commitment of time and energy. But the new owners may also tire of the dog when they find out that it requires time, work and money to keep. At this point, they will want to get rid of the dog who may end up being shuffled to yet another owner or series of owners -- each one worse than the other -- before it ends up at best, euthanized in a shelter or at worst, abused or abandoned outright.

Unfortunately, many people who are irresistibly attracted to the idea of owning a dog, end up disappointed in the reality. Inclined to blame the dog, most never realize where the real fault can be found. The Monks of New Skete, who have written a book called "How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend", assert that you will end up with the dog you deserve. If you buy a dog without bothering to learn about dog behavior and training, if you never read a book or go to an obedience class, you are not going to end up with "Rin Tin Tin" or "Lassie". And, you will never experience that special human-animal bond with your dog that some part of you once yearned for.

Click here to return to "Re-Homing your Silky Terrier",
and information on listing your Silky on the rescue web site.
Thanks to the National German Shepherd Dog Club, to Anne McGuire and the Houston Golden Retriever Club and to Texas Brittany Rescue for sharing information contained in this article.
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