Many of our long term residents are struggling to find their new home because they would do best as an only pet. I want to get creative to get these wonderful dogs out of the shelter and into their forever home.
Looking for suggestions on:
- Marketing and promotion tips to reach people who only want 1 dog
- Any "monogamous" dog event ideas
- Adoption counseling tips to help "seal the deal" when the right adopter arrives
As far as marketing strategies for single dog homes- I would first reach out if you haven't to local vet offices. Often times when a pet parent has had a pet die, they call their trusted vet first when they are ready to look again (I know because my day job is as a vet tech) and ask if they know of any dogs in need. Establishing a relationship with a vet clinic may mean that when this happens they will be more likely to tell them to contact your shelter first. Let's face it, for single dog homes only you are basically trying to catch pet lovers in between pets.
Some ideas for promoting: "One on One" with lots of pictures of one person and one dog looking very happy, "It Takes Two to Tango" (Two being one dog+ one human), "Three's Company" - A happy couple with one dog. For some reason I am hearing the song "Happy Together, thinking about these "campaigns".
Another thing to strongly consider- homes with out pets often are people that aren't sure that getting a pet is a great idea... maybe promote them for over night stays or day trips with people. If they form a bond with the dog they are more likely to decide they are ready to have one.
BUT- I am wondering how you determined that they can't be with other dogs? I know many dogs really can't, but if they are long time residents have you done any behavior modification to try to work on this problem? A lot of dogs are labeled single household dogs for liability because of one or two bad reactions and being safe IS best, but it may also be condemning them to long lonely lives in kennels. Just something to consider. If you haven't already, get a behaviorist to come meet some. You could tell the behaviorist that you will promote the heck out of them coming to visit and donating their time... which should be ample payment since rescue dogs often go to people who decide to get a behaviorist.
This is so helpful, and got some of my creative juices flowing. Love the Happy Together campaign idea, and really appreciate your nod to out-of-shelter vs. in-shelter reactivity.
To answer your question, we have a behavior team with a non-invasive temperament testing protocol that can include a fake dog test and we do dog/dog play dates (not quite play group, but something). We try to gather as many data points as we can, including intros with the resident dogs for potential adopters and we take some dogs on outings where other dogs may be present. It isn't bullet proof to be sure, but there are always those dogs who demonstrate their desire to live a monogamous life in no uncertain terms and they end up staying in the shelter for way too long.
I will let you know how it goes. :-)
This is a constant struggle for us as well. We have had a behaviorist talk to us and he gave us some tips but basically said that the kennel environment makes it difficult to "fix" the dogs in the shelter. They need a home that is willing to put in the extra work and that is difficult. We tend to end up with the dog back in a short amount of time. We do fee waived adoptions for our one and only's which gets some extra attention but it still comes down to what the adopter is willing to do at home. Not always, but often enough, being the only pet isn't the only challenge, there are other behavior issues that need modification as well. Not an answer to your questions, but I feel your pain!
Could maybe market them as "independent" dogs.
I also wonder if this could be a "foster-to-adopt" event. Specifically, for those that already have a dog at home and want to try it out. It's possible the dog is just stressed in the shelter. And if it's not meant to be, you'll know for sure if they are an only-dog dog.
Foster to adopt is a great one. We are building a dog day out, short term foster program that this suggestion could fit nicely into. Thanks!
If anyone has the means to do this...… check out the Molly & Me Project through Frosted Faces Foundation out of San Diego, CA.
We partnered with an upscale boarding/training facility in our area. The trainer provides assessment & free boarding/training for a couple of weeks to see if behavior modification is possible. The program is designed so that the adoption fee includes a one-on-one with the trainer to help new owners with the transition after adoption. Since the trainer already knows the dog, the process is more effective and (hopefully) lessens the chance of return. It gives the new adopters more confidence, allows the partner facility to advertise their services (grooming, boarding, training) as "payment' for in-kind contributions and makes the dog more marketable to potential adopters.
This process can likely confirm if the dog needs to be an "only child". If so, could still be adopted but must be very transparent if issues still exist. You could also market to law enforcement/customs. Seeing quite a few unexpected breeds popping up as K9s lately (not necessarily because they are dog aggressive but because the individual dogs have particular aptitudes).
Thank you for working so hard to place the dogs! Many facilities lack the resources but even those that have the resources won't take time & effort for animals with behavioral needs.
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