Posted by Janine Allen at Thursday, March 26th, 2009.
HOW TO ADOPT A SHELTER DOG
Giving a shelter dog a new home can be a very rewarding experience. All varieties of purebreds, designer breeds, and one-of-a-kind purebred mixes can be found in shelters. Picking out just one will be your biggest challenge. Below are some guidelines to helping you find your new best friend.
Define your lifestyle
All dogs, when entering a new household, will need some training, but your lifestyle will determine the size, age, and breed-type of dog that would best suit you.
Will your dog be alone for 8 hours a day?
Does he need to have a deep bark to ward off potential dangers?
Are you going to walk him every day or just take him to the park once a week?
Will young children be crawling all over him or will he share the house with cats?
Should he like to swim? Run? Be carried around? Sit in a lap?
Petfinder.com is a website listing many types of animals available for adoption. The dogs listed here are in shelters, foster homes, or still with their original owner.
Petharbor.com is a website devoted to shelters who list photos and descriptions of their dogs.
Craigslist.com is a website where many items and services are offered for sale, including dogs for adoption.
If you have a particular breed in mind, there are specific breed rescue organizations. Reputable breeders will be knowledgeable in these rescue groups or may help you find a dog that is in a foster home.
Call you local shelter to see if they have their dogs listed on a website.
Visit a shelter
Ask the shelter staff to help you. Describe to them your lifestyle and let them show you the dog that might be perfect for you. If the idea of walking down rows of cages with happy dogs barking their greetings to you seems overwhelming, ask the staff to bring adoption potentials to their visiting area where you and the dogs can quietly get to know one another. Sometimes shelter workers may not have time to escort you through their facility. If this is the case, ask when would be a good time for you to return. Call ahead to remind them when you are coming.
Spend time with the dog
Getting a read on a dog’s temperament and personality is very difficult in the kennel environment. Having so many other dogs nearby in an enclosed building may bring out a more shy or assertive side of any dog – traits you may never see again in your home. Spend time with the dog in a visiting area and ask if you can take the dog for a walk.
Initially, the dog will be very excited to be out of his kennel so give him at least 30 minutes to run around and smell things before you anticipate making a connection with him. Visit him several times if possible. Some shelters may put a hold on the dog, some may let you take him home for a trial period.
Bring your dog to visit
Ask shelter staff if you can bring other dog family members to meet the adoption candidate. Most dogs will get along when introduced properly (have the staff help you) but not all dogs are perfect matches. It’s best to find this out before you bring the new dog home.
Set you new dog up for success
Keep your new dog confined when you are not home to supervise him. He has been in a fairly sterile environment and may be a bit tempted to explore your home with his mouth. Walk him daily, give plenty of toys in his crate or pen and be sure to take him out for frequent potty breaks. After a few weeks you can gradually give him more freedom in your house.