Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Adopting a New Dog? 8 Questions to Ask Before You Adopt

I adopted my girl Phoebe from the shelter I volunteer at.  She had an extreme fear of all men, which we worked on for months - my husband has the patience of a Saint!  Now she loves him to pieces.
If you’ve decided to adopt a shelter or rescue dog, congratulations! You’ve made a decision that will save a life.  At the animal shelter where I volunteer, my main job is to provide adoption counseling.  I help people find the right dog to fit their lifestyle.  Most people mill around the shelter looking for the cutest dog that catches their eye, but different dogs will fit best with different people.  The goal is to find a forever home, a match that will last the rest of the dog’s lifetime.    To help determine which dog will be the right forever match for you and your family, ask these 8 questions when you’re at the shelter looking for your new best friend.

IS THE DOG FULL GROWN?  IF NOT, HOW BIG WILL HE GET?
Most dogs are full grown at around 18 months old.  You’ll want to know just how big of a dog you’re getting.  Do you want a large dog, a tiny dog, or something in between?   A large dog will have a lot of strength; young kids may not be able to walk a large dog.   If you live in an apartment or have a Home Owners Association check on any restrictions around size or breed of dogs allowed.   Tiny dogs may be intimidated by noisy crowded households.  They can also get underfoot, especially with little kids around.

WHAT BREED OR BREED MIX IS THE DOG?
Ask about the attributes of the breed(s) so you know what to expect.  Energy level and tendencies of the breed are import to know.  If you’re looking for a hiking or running companion then a high energy dog such as a Border Collie or Weimaraner might be just the right companion for you.  If you really want a lap dog to cuddle with, a Siberian Husky will drive you bonkers.    

WILL THIS DOG SHED A LOT?
Some people hate shedding, although I'm not one of them.  Just because a dog has a smooth coat or very thin hair that does not mean she won’t shed.  In fact, many short haired dogs shed a ton.  Pugs are just one example.  Even short haired Chihuahuas can shed like crazy.  Dogs with a dense double undercoat usually shed a lot.  If you want a dog that sheds very little or not at all, check out breeds that have hair instead of fur.  The Poodle, Maltese, Havanese, Bichon Frise, and Lhasa Apso are just a few of the breeds that shed very little or not at all.  Phoebe is a Lhasa Apso/Havanese mix and she doesn’t shed one bit!  Of course my Siberian Husky, Isis, more than makes up for it.

IS THE DOG FRIENDLY WITH BOTH PEOPLE AND OTHER DOGS?
Sometimes shelter staff and volunteers won’t know for certain, but at many shelters and rescues they can tell fairly easily.  They do this by behavior assessing the dog upon intake and interacting with the dog on a daily basis.  If they have play groups for the dogs they’ll be able to tell if he’s friendly with other dogs or if he displays aggression.  If the dog has been fostered by a staff or volunteer ask if the foster parent left notes about the dog or if you can speak with the foster.  As a Foster Mama, I’m always happy to do whatever I can to advocate for my fosters and provide as much information as possible to a potential adopter.

I HAVE ANOTHER DOG AT HOME, WOULD YOU DO A MEET AND GREET?
Sometimes people who already have dogs at home worry about bringing another dog into the home and it prevents them from adopting another one.  Ask the shelter or rescue if they’ll arrange a meet and greet with your current dog and the one you want to adopt to see if they get along.  If they can’t accommodate, make sure you can bring the dog back if the adoption turns out to be a disaster when you introduce the dogs at home.

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE ADOPTION FEE?
Know what’s included in the adoption fee and what additional costs you might incur.  Most shelters and many rescues will have the dog spayed/neutered and include that in the adoption fee.  Vaccinations required up to the dog’s current age, such as Rabies vaccination, may also be included.  If you’re adopting a young puppy, vaccinations and spay/neuter may need to be done at a later date and may be your responsibility.

DOES SHE HAVE ANY MEDICAL PROBLEMS THAT YOU KNOW OF?
Ask if the dog has been treated for any illness or injury while at the shelter, or if they are aware of any medical issues.  If there have been medical issues, ask about follow-up care, prognosis, and potential costs.  Ailments that can be present in a shelter environment include Kennel Cough and other respiratory illnesses, Parvo virus, Heartworm, and sometimes Mange.   Some shelters may send you home with necessary medications for minor ailments.   Ask if the dog's illness is contagious and what precautions may be needed.

WHERE DID THIS DOG COME FROM?
You can ask whether the dog was a stray picked up on the street, an owner surrender, puppy mill rescue, etc.  Most will probably be strays with little background information, but ask if there is any information on the dog’s history that might be helpful.
 
Asking these 8 questions will help you make the best decision about which dog is right for you, and you’ll know what to expect as you bring your new best friend home with you!

3 comments:

  1. Good article! Nice to meet a new blogging friend! I'm trying to figure out how to follow your blog...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your comment Shannon, I'm glad you like the post. It's great to connect with you as well! You can follow my blog by clicking on the email icon. Sorry it took so long to respond, I was having problems with the comments function.

    ReplyDelete
  3. These are all fantastic questions that need to be asked when you are thinking about adopting a dog. With regards to the health side of things, I would also add the need for your dog to take regular dog supplements, especially in older dogs. I have been giving my dog supplements for years and they really do help.

    Kelley @ The Whole Hound

    ReplyDelete