How To Choose A Dog From A Shelter

Dogs in an animal shelter

So you’ve finally made the decision to adopt a dog from your local animal shelter. You’re all ready to go, you think the decision will be easy, and when you finally step foot into the shelter, you become completely lost and confused.

There are so many dogs in shelters in need of loving homes, and it will hurt you to know that you cannot bring every single one of the dogs home with you. Instead of going home empty-handed, use the following tips to help make your adoption decision easier.

Have an idea of what you want

Although you may walk out of the shelter with a completely different dog than you thought you’d get, it’s still a good idea to have a general idea. Do you want a puppy or a dog that’s a little older? Or are you looking to provide a loving forever home to a senior dog so they can live out the rest of their life in a loving environment? Having an idea of what you want can help you look for dogs that fit what you want and help make the decision easier.

Interact with the dog

Most animal shelters will allow you to interact with the dog to see how you mesh together. Make sure that you spend some time playing with, and interacting with, the dog to see how they behave. Keep in mind that the dog may be a little shy due to their current living conditions and background, so remember that they may become more interactive once you bring them home.

Interacting with a shelter dog

When you interact with the dog, make sure to look for behaviors that may be an issue, such as snapping or biting. If something bothers you about the dog, don’t adopt it.

Ask about their background

You can always inquire about the dog’s background to the animal shelter workers. In some cases, they may not know much about the dog’s background, but in some cases they will. Find out the breed of the dog, including adult size and usual lifespan, and why they were brought into the shelter. Were they brought in from an abusive household? Were they used in dog fighting? Were they returned for behavioral issues? Do they have any illnesses or were they treated for any illnesses? Are they good with kids and other pets? The more information you can find out about the dog’s background, the more you determine if this is the right dog for you.

Have family visits

Most animal shelters will require that everyone in your household meet with the dog before you bring it home. Even if your shelter doesn’t require this, make sure you do a whole family visit, including any other pets. The last thing you want is to bring the dog home and have them not get along with another pet in your household or even another person. These visits can help you look for potential issues that may cause problems down the line.

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    • Emily D.
    • November 23, 2013

    Have you ever noticed some dogs in shelters try to show off for you? I wish I could take them all.

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