Adopting a shelter dog (rather than buying a puppy) is a great way to give an older animal a new lease on life. Shelters aren’t the ideal location for dogs, who don’t thrive in the often confined conditions of a kennel. When you take a canine out of that environment and give them a forever home, they’ll reward you with years of love and loyalty.
#1 Meet the dog (and use the time wisely)
No shelter will let you adopt a dog without meeting them first, but most potential owners simply spend the time playing. It pays to be more shrewd. Gauge and take note of the dog’s energy levels. Is the animal brimming with energy, when you were hoping to adopt a couch potato? Similarly, investigate how well the dog walks on a leash, their obedience levels, and, of course, how house trained they are. All of these things are easily teachable, but it’s important to find a dog that suits your lifestyle.
#2 Ask for a Behavior and Health Report
Nearly all shelters will offer this. Staff monitors their dogs with frequent health checks to identify any underlying issues, but they’ll watch behavior too. How the dog reacts to other animals, how they interact with strangers, and even how they fare alone will all be noted down in a report. This gives you a better idea of what you’re taking on. Of course, adopting a dog with health or behavioral issues is an altruistic move that can be rewarding, but you should be aware of the time commitment beforehand.
#3 Consult a Vet Before Adopting
In their rush to adopt, most people see a trip to the veterinary clinic as a secondary concern. Rather than leaving it late, you should consult a vet before you even take the dog home. Ask about vaccinations, deworming, and, if the dog does have an underlying health condition, medication. Veterinary practices like easyvet.com will be able to give you all the advice you need. Doing this ahead of time means that you can concentrate all your attention on your new pet when you do bring them home.
#4 Establish the Breed
This is often far more complicated than it seems. Mixed breed dogs are the most common in shelters, but that doesn’t mean you won’t come across the odd pure breed too. Generally speaking, pure breeds are far more prone to health problems, so this is something to consider. Certain pure breeds can be extremely time-intensive, too. If you’re adopting a husky, for example, be prepared to spend hours brushing and exercising. Determining a dog’s breed isn’t always straightforward, but don’t just presume and get a second opinion where necessary.
#5 Pay attention to age
Age will play a huge part in how you interact with your new pet. Younger dogs are far more active, so will need to be exercised frequently. They’re also less prone to health problems, which can equate to lower vet bills. Older dogs are more docile and will be happy to lounge on the sofa for hours at a time, so they’re more suited to a sedate lifestyle. They’ll likely spend more time at the vet’s, though.