What to Consider When Choosing a Dog to Adopt
Is That Dog Right For You?
There’s a lot to consider before taking home a new friend. It’s easy to be influenced by big brown eyes, a puffy coat, or a tiny squeal of joy. For these reasons, it’s good to take a minute to collect yourself and make sure this is the right dog for you. Sometimes it may be necessary to remove yourself from the adoption floor, walk away from the counselors and barking pups, and do some soul searching. During that time, consider the following.
Does this dog have any behavior issues?
Behavior issues can range from manageable to life altering. A dog with severe separation anxiety, for instance, will need to be constantly and consistently worked with in order to make the situation livable for you and your dog (and your neighbors).
A dog that is mouthy or jumpy will also need to be consistently worked with, but the situation is less impactful on your life away from home and is also more easily managed. Other types of behavior issues to look out for are food and toy aggression. If you have small children or children under the age of 12, it’s generally recommended to avoid dogs that guard their possessions. Bites often happen when a dog has a toy or treat hidden in its bed.
Some dogs with resource guarding issues will be protective of the couch, which is generally face level with small children. As a result it’s best not to take on the task of managing these behaviors and run the risk of putting your child or a child’s friend in jeopardy. Let more experienced dog owners or childless people adopt these dogs.
Additionally if you’re looking for a social dog you’ll want to avoid dog selective or aggressive dogs. This is a behavior issue that can be worked with to the extent that you can manage your dog when passing other dogs on the street, but your dog will not ever be able to play at a dog park.
What’s the overall picture of health?
Does the dog you’re about to adopt have adequate medical records? If a shelter is practicing good disease control they should be inoculating for distemper and kennel cough at the point a new dog enters the premises. They should also provide you with a rabies shot certificate and tag (which your dog needs to wear at all times).
Did your new pal receive a dewormer, or flea, tick, and ear-mite treatments? What about heartworm preventive? This isn’t a standard treatment as not all shelters have the ability to treat if symptoms aren’t present, but a shelter that has the resources to do so will preemptively treat these conditions to assure a clean bill of health.
Was your dog spayed or neutered? If so was it recent? If your new dog was recently spayed or neutered you should discuss post-operative care with an adoption counselor before taking it home, especially if its on pain medication. The after affects of anesthesia can often cause vomiting or diarrhea. Additionally, you’ll want to limit your new pal’s activity level and watch for any bloating, discoloration, or loss of appetite, as these can all be signs of a medical emergency.
In addition to these standard medical workups, always ask if your dog has any underlying health concerns. If you’re working with a volunteer, ask a staff member as well, just to double check.
Does this dog fit my lifestyle?
This is one of the most important questions you should be asking yourself. If you’re looking for a family dog, you need a dog that’s going to be good with children and an active household. You should be looking for similar qualities even if you’re a new couple with no kids, but plan on having kids.
A lot of dogs are surrendered to shelters when a new baby arrives, so take age into consideration as well. If you’re planning on having a baby in the next three to four years, then getting an older dog might be a better choice than getting a puppy.
If you lead an active lifestyle make sure you’re not getting a couch potato pup, but also ensure that you’ll be home to give it the attention it needs and not just a thirty minute jog. If you want to go out for after work drinks, do you have someone who can let your pooch out?
You should also be considering your living arrangements when choosing a dog. Is getting a big dog a good idea if you live in a 500 square foot apartment? What about your neighbors? How will they feel about a dog that barks constantly?
Many people have had the experience of not going home with the dog they saw online. Sometimes it’s because the dog didn’t fit your needs or abilities as a potential dog owner and other times it’s because you met another pup that you just clicked with. The important thing is to remain open minded about finding your ideal canine companion.