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Prevent pet surrenders after the holidays: Give new pets time to adjust

Posted at 5:46 AM, Jan 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-04 11:48:10-05

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Getting a new pet for Christmas is exciting. Unfortunately, pet surrenders spike after this time of year as people drop off suddenly unwanted pets at local shelters and pounds.

"April, May, June and July -- that's when the shelters start receiving these surrendered dogs because dogs start getting into their terrible twos at eight-month of age," said dog trainer Daniel Marullo. "And if people just take their dogs and participate in training, they wouldn't have these dogs in shelters."

But if you got a dog or a cat as a gift and you are not sure what to do next, trainers and staff at Tri-County Animal Rescue in Boca Raton shared some tips.

Marullo is a former dog handler for the military and now trains dogs here at Tri-County. That way, they're more easily adoptable with a lesser chance of surrender.

"A lot of dogs that get surrendered to shelters is because people don't have the time to train their dog and learn a little bit about their dog. They think that it's gonna turn out to be perfect, it's gonna go to the bathroom outside, it's not going to chew anything. It's not going to jump on people," he said.

Marullo has trained at least 7,000 dogs in his career and says a dog is only as good as the person at the end of the leash.

"Let your dog figure you out because it will take years to figure your dog out," Marullo said. "It's all about your trust with your dog. If your dog doesn't trust you, your dog isn't going to listen to you."

They tend to see an uptick in surrenders after the holidays -- usually four to six months into the new year. So, Marullo says new pets need lots of time to get adjusted into a new home.

He suggests taking your new dog on a long walk.

"Put the dog on a leash and take them for a nice long walk before we bring them into the house, that way you can control the energy by their batteries being worn down," he said. "Remember, it's basically like you're bringing a homeless person or stranger into your house and don't give them free run of the house."

Be sure to give off a calm and assertive energy with your new pet.

"Everything that we do should go down the leash. So, if our energy is calm, it's gonna go down the leash nice and calm. If we allow high energy, it's gonna go down the leash and the dog is going to react to it," said Marullo.

Give the dog a tour of the house on its leash and do not touch, talk to or make eye contact with the dog during this time. This allows the pet to greet each new area of the home without interruption.

"A lot of people think when they get a new dog -- because they're nice to it, they love it, they give it really good food, that the dog is going to listen to them, but unfortunately, human psychology can't be used on a dog," said Marullo.

And be sure to get a crate for training purposes.

"A lot of people like to take the dog off a leash and let it run around the house. And then all of the sudden, the dog gets into this and that. By having the dog in a crate in the house, you can let the dog learn quite a bit about you," said Marullo.

Another tip: Do not take your new pet to the dog park for at least one week until you have built more bond and trust with your dog.

There are countless cats and dogs available for adoption at Tri-County Animal Rescue in Boca Raton, which is a no-kill shelter.

Click here to browse all of the adoptable animals. You can also call 561-482-8110 for more information.