So you’ve made the big decision to become a dog parent. Now the big question is how to find the dog that will be the perfect match for you. Most people would say that adoption is the only choice, but sometimes it isn’t right for your situation. Before you adopt, there are a few things you should ask yourself to make sure it really is the best choice for you.
What To Consider Before You Adopt A Dog
1) Do you want a specific breed? If you have a specific breed of dog in mind, you might think you need to go to a breeder. This isn’t always the case. There are breed-specific rescues for the majority of breeds. Many of these rescues are run by breeders who are devoted to that breed.
2) Do you want a specific age? Puppies are generally adopted out pretty quickly. Many of the dogs you’ll find in a shelter or rescue are adults, ranging from barely out of puppyhood to seniors. If you would prefer an adult dog or are willing to apply for a few different puppies, then adoption is a great way to go.
3) What has this dog been through? Many, but not all, dogs available for adoption have some kind of trauma in their past. From abandonment to abuse, these dogs have been through horrible things. The dogs available for adoption have been worked with to make sure they really are ready for a home. Even so, they may have some anxiety, fear, or odd behaviors that they may never be able to completely let go of. You need to be ready and able to handle any behavior issues that may come up.
Not all rescued dogs have a horrific backstory. Some come from loving homes, but for some reason could no longer be cared for. Financial issues, an owner that passed away, these dogs have known a happy home. The transition from one home to another, with a shelter or foster in between, can be confusing. These dogs need time to settle in, and they may seem reserved and closed off at first. Are you willing to give them time to get comfortable with you?
4) What is their medical history? For most rescued dogs, there may not be an extensive medical history. Rescued dogs are given a thorough exam before being placed for adoption, and anything found during the exam is treated or disclosed. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing if they’ve had any problems in the past.
5) Will this dog blend into your family? This is an important consideration with any dog… especially a rescued dog that has a history no one can be sure of. If you have another dog, cat, or kids, you need to be certain that the new dog will be able to adjust for everyone’s safety and happiness. Many rescues try to place dogs in foster homes prior to adoption. If a dog has been fostered, the foster family will have a good idea of who and what it gets along with, and if it has any quirks like a distrust of men in hats.
6) How long has the dog been at the rescue? Some dogs get stuck in a rescue for years or are adopted and returned several times. These dogs may seem withdrawn and depressed. They may not interact well. This isn’t meant to discourage you from considering dogs that have had a long-term shelter stay. In fact, this is meant to do the opposite. These dogs may take longer to warm up to you, but once you have gained their trust, they will blossom and be the dog they were meant to be. Just remember it will take time for them to feel secure, and they may need space to get used to a new home.
Pros Of Adopting a Dog
Whether you adopt or get your dog from a breeder, there are questions you need to ask yourself to make sure you really are prepared. As long as you have done your homework, adoption is a wonderful way to find your new companion. Here are some of the pros of adopting a dog.
You’re giving a dog a fresh start. Dogs just want to be loved. Too many of the dogs in rescues have never known love. Adopting one of them gives them a chance to finally have the life that every dog deserves to have.
You’re saving lives. In fact, by adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue, you have made space for another dog to be saved.
You can skip puppyhood and the “teens”. Frequently, the adult dogs in a shelter are already potty trained, so you can skip over the 5 am walks in frigid weather and the wet spots in the carpet. Adult dogs have settled and you won't be dealing with crazy puppy energy. Of course, they’ll still need training, but adult dogs have a longer attention span and can be less frustrating to train than wiggly puppies.
Senior dogs make loving companions if you can handle not having as much time with them as you would a younger dog. In fact, some people have devoted their time to adopting senior dogs to give them happy twilight years.
They’re usually spayed and neutered. That’s one less appointment for you to worry about. Spaying and neutering does more than just prevent more dogs from ending up in shelters. This prevents dogs from developing specific types of cancers and stops certain behavioral issues from developing.
You’ll fall in love with a dog you never even considered. You probably already have your perfect dog in mind. All it takes is a certain curve of a tail, the way a dog looks at you and emotes with their eyebrows, or how they sit up to get your attention to really just throw all that out the window. You may have imagined yourself with a purse-sized dog, and you find yourself leaving with an 80-pound hound.
Do you have a rescue dog? What have you learned from adopting? Tell us your story below!