do we work with rescue dogs?
by Olivia Kennaway, Paws in Work blogger.
where do the puppies come from?
First things first, no we don't own hundreds of puppies (who eventually turn into dogs)... Whilst it is a heavenly idea, the logistics of that are enough to make your paws sweat.
No, our puppies are sourced from vetted, reputable and fully trusted owners. As part of our licence, we ensure that each owner goes through a stringent screening process to confirm that they are ethical and to check their puppies are being socialised properly from an early age in the run-up to them going to their forever homes.
We meet regularly with the owners before their puppies go to their first event, and any owners who do not meet our strict criteria cannot take part in our partnership. We only deal with reputable, ethical and trusted owners because we are working to raise awareness of ethical breeding and what to avoid in order to put a stop to puppy farms.
what kind of pups do we work with?
We work with an individual litter from one household at each event due to the young age of the puppies and their need to be around their brothers and sisters at this stage of their development. The age of the puppies at a Paws in Work event can differ on a litter by litter basis, but typically the puppies are aged between 7 to 13 weeks old.
We take many measures to make sure that during a puppy’s first ‘fear period’ they are presented with nothing but positive reinforcement from a PIW event. Their time with us depends on when the little pups are due to go to their forever homes and if the puppy wishes to carry on socialising with their brothers and sisters afterwards.
There are many factors that need to be considered when choosing which litter to work with for what event, such as; location of the event in correlation to the location of the puppies, the pups’ age, number of pups in the litter and their general temperament. Because of all these factors, it’s extremely difficult to tick all of these boxes when considering working with a rescue litter. It would be very unlikely for us to be able to match up a rescue litters age with the right location, timings and travel logistics. We also cannot be sure what experiences they may or may not have had before they were rescued and thus would have to be extremely careful that nothing they experienced with us triggered a past negative experience.
why do dogs end up in rescue shelters?
There are numerous reasons for dogs ending up in shelters, however one of the biggest causes of dogs ending up in rescue shelters is due to bad temperament or behavioural issues. Negative experiences at a young age could induce fears and anxieties in a pup; and in turn this could lead to pups becoming fearful of new situations, people, animals or even displaying aggressive behaviours towards all the above. This in essence is due to a lack of knowing what they should do or how they should react when presented with new experiences. This is why our puppy socialisation around their fear period is CRUCIAL to help prevent this (and another reason why it’s very difficult to judge a rescue puppy’s fears).
So with this in mind, one of our main aims is to help prevent puppies from being relinquished to shelters, by ensuring they are properly socialised at a young age. This is why we mainly work with puppies that we know have come from loving, responsible homes that have given them the best possible start to life.. However, if a rescue centre is able to pass our checks and meet the criteria we need; and we are ultimately satisfied that working with us would be in the best interests of the puppies, then we would be delighted to work with litters in rescue.
A lot of the time pups ending up in shelters could have been avoided if the new owners were more educated on the responsibilities of dog ownership, or more knowledgeable on what to look for when finding a new pup. We aim to educate people on the importance of socialisation and what to look for when considering getting a new pup i.e. ethical breeder, right breed for your lifestyle and so on; with the hopes that if new owners are armed with the right information, they will buy the right puppy for them and therefore will not need to give a pup up even if their circumstances change. Through educating dog owners and positively reinforcing a variety of new experiences for puppies (such as Paws in Work puppy therapy events), we will hopefully see fewer behavioural issues in puppies and ultimately less likelihood of dogs ending up in a shelter or being given up by their new owners.
Want to support a rescue shelter? Check out the The Pack Project UK who work with small rescue centres across Europe to help find homes for stray and abandoned dogs.