Tips for Successfully Adopting a Dog
Getting a dog is an enormous commitment. Many people purchase puppies and then they realize that they need to be potty trained, they can be destructive, and they need to be walked several times a day. Puppies can be horrible holiday gifts for new dog owners because many people are unaware of the responsibility and work they require. Many puppies go off to the pound because the puppy had an accident and the owners had no time to take the dog out and to provide the attention puppies need.
How I have acquired my own dogs:
I have always adopted my dogs through Petfinder.com. The picture above is my dog Lester who passed away. I adopted him via Petfinder. All my little ones have been gems.
I prefer to adopt dogs who are older than two years of age because at least I could see if there are any visible physical defects.
Puppies are not well-developed so it is difficult for me to see any gross abnormalities. I have always met and interacted with the dogs for at least 15 minutes. Under the circumstances of being in an adoption situation, a dog could be more nervous than he would be once established in a forever home. Getting a clear read could be difficult, but sometimes you can get a bit of a gist of how you might get along with a dog by spending a little time with him.
Dogs are frequently surrendered for shocking reasons. People think that dogs who are up for adoption are headaches that other people wanted to get rid of. That couldn’t be further than the truth.
Petfinder is a fabulous hub in which adoption agencies from across the country post dogs who are available for adoption. They have a search tool to make your searches relevant to your preferences.
My suggestions before you acquire a dog:
-When I first meet a dog I kneel down or squat, hold out my hand (with my palm up), call the dog using a gentle, kind voice to invite the dog to interact with me.
-How does the dog respond to me (i.e., fearful, aggressive, playful, affectionate…)?
-I observe the dog’s energy level. This is tricky because under the circumstances the dog might (understandably) be hyper or excited).
-Does everybody’s energy work well together? Does everybody get along? I would see how the dog interacts with any family members including other pets, significant others…) and to see how those people and pets respond to the dog. Of course you should always ask the people who are in the adoption organization before you do this. The dog can become overwhelmed if he is bombarded with so much stimuli. Just as important as observing the adoptive dog’s reaction, it is just as critical to observe the behavior of those significant others and pets when they meet the dog.
-Is your child fearful of does the child not know how to be gentle with the dog?
-Is the dog fearful of anybody?
-Is the dog comfortable with being handled appropriately (as opposed to pulling at the tail which is not appropriate)? Does he react with fear or anger?
-Does the dog’s energy level match yours? Is the dog too high energy? Person who is very inactive or not available still needs to assure that (especially) a high energy can get enough exercise. A dog who is calmer or older will probably need less exercise. Will you, a family member or a dog walker be able to take the dog out long enough to get that energy out for exercise? It is not unusual for a high energy dog who doesn’t get enough exercise to be destructive at home. All dogs need exercise to get their energy out of their system. Is there a park nearby? Are you able to exercise the dog in the backyard (not just let him outside, but to actively play around and throw a ball for at least a couple of hours a day).
Questions to ask someone from the adoption agency:
-Review details about the dogs with people who have some familiarity with the dogs. I have asked questions like:
-Does the dog have any health issues?
-What is the dog’s background story? Was he abandoned? Abused? Neglected? Why was he/she surrendered?
-Does the dog have any fears or anxiety about anything in particular that you know of?
-Is the dog ok with children? Other pets?
-Are there any behavioral issues that I could address and focus on?
-Is the dog house trained to go outside?
Adoption is the greatest alternative to buying from a puppy mill. There are all types of dogs available for adoptions. For those who have a breed preference, there are rescue organizations which focus on individual breeds. Do your research. You can contact the AKC to confirm that the rescue group is authentic. I also have an article called, Buying a Puppy – Red Flags