Spring training applies to more than just baseball.
Warmer temperatures and sunny spring days make it more enjoyable than ever to add a new dog into your life, with the added advantage of training your pup outdoors.
“It’s really great to kick off the winter blahs by getting out and walking and playing with pets outside,” said Jody Maddock, director of Adopt-A-Pet in Fenton Township. “This time of year, a lot of people like to start walking and enjoy the companionship of a dog.”
Eric and Shelby Badal of Mundy Township adopted Riley, a mixed breed dog and Jelly Bean, a domestic shorthair kitten last fall, now totaling three dogs and four cats, all from Adopt-A-Pet.
“In the spring, we’ll walk in downtown Fenton while (daughter) Maddie is at dance,” Shelby said. “Once the weather breaks, we’ll get them outside as much as we can.”
Right now, Adopt-A-Pet has about 45 dogs available in multiple breeds, including about 15 puppies and 30 adult dogs. “It’s not at all hard to find a puppy to adopt this time of year,” Maddock said.
For families looking for a dog with the personality of a golden retriever or a Labrador retriever, Maddock tells people not to be afraid to consider a pit bull mix.
“They have wonderful personalities and are very people-oriented,” Maddock said. “They want to please. They get along great with other dogs. We’ve got a mix between a Lab and pit bull and she is one of the calmest dogs.” Maddock believes strongly in families researching different breed types to find the best match. “Do your research before you come in,” she said. “Remember that this dog will be a life-long companion, not only in the spring but also in the winter.”
Consider the cost of the dog you’d like to adopt. The price of an adopted pet from Adopt-A-Pet is about $175 to $350, with the high end for dogs that have had a lot of medical issues, Maddock said. “Cats are $40, kittens are $80. All pets are fixed, vaccinated, examined by a veterinarian and micro-chipped when they are adopted out.”
Families should also consider the cost of having a dog. “It’s adding another family member,” Maddock said. “You can expect to spend about $1,000 per year, depending on your pet’s needs. Remember that large dogs cost more than small dogs because of food, flea prevention, etc.”
Adopt-A-Pet is open for families to meet adoptable pets on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 12 to 5 p.m. and Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m.
“You can come in and get a dog in about a hour, if you have all your ducks in a row,” Maddock said. “But a lot of people want to think about that decision overnight.”
For Shelby Badal, having dogs is a bright spot in their family’s lives. “I can come home every day to them and relieve any stress and anxiety from the day,” she said. “They keep me active and moving.”
Top 10 dog training tips
• Listen to your dog. If your dog appears to be uncomfortable meeting another dog, animal or person, don’t force the issue.
• Be generous with affection. Give lots of attention when your dog is doing the right thing.
• Tell him what you want him to do, instead of just saying “No.” If he’s jumping on someone, tell him to “sit.”
• Be consistent. Make sure all family members use the same command words to avoid your dog’s confusion.
• Have realistic expectations. Normal dog behaviors like barking, digging and jumping will take the most time to change.
• Feed a high-quality diet. Check with your veterinarian about the proper diet for your dog.
• Don’t reinforce behaviors you don’t like, like when your dog brings you a toy and barks to get you to throw it, and you do. Ignore his bark and ask him to “sit” before you throw his toy.
• Bribery vs. reward. Remember that the behavior should produce the treat (reinforcement); the treat should not produce the behavior.
• Don’t give your new dog too much freedom too soon. Minimize accidents by keeping your dog close to you in the house and using a crate or doggie safe area when you can’t actively supervise him.
• Use treats he likes. Soft and chewy may be more popular than hard and crunchy.