Five Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Dog

Animal shelters are busting at the seams with furry friends looking for a new forever home. However, before you look to be the saving grace for these loving animals, make sure you consider these helpful tips.

Do your research

It’s important to do your research on dog breeds before you select the right dog for your family. For example, Dalmatians, while adorable and loyal, do not always have a good reputation with children. Individuals with allergies should consider a poodle mix, such as a Labradoodle. If you have a house with cream carpeting, consider a light-haired dog such as a Wheaten Terrier to mask the shedding fur.

Examine your life stage now� and in the next 5-10 years

Pet ownership is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Before you consider adopting a pet, think about the responsibilities the pet will entail. Consider questions such as:

  • How much will the dog’s maintenance cost?
  • How much time will the dog require?
  • Will my other household members get along with the dog?
  • How will my life be different in the next 5-10 years?

Often times, new couples think that the first step to completing their family is to get a pet. While a pet can teach great responsibility, they also can be time consuming when the next step of family completion, i.e. children, comes along. Be sure that you are prepared to keep your pet for the long haul, and are ready to adjust your animal’s schedule as new changes come along.

Find the right shelter

If breed is not important to you and you are considering getting a mutt, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a great resource. The site has links to local shelters based on your zip code and can provide additional information on the pet adoption process.

However, if you are looking for a specific breed, consider checking out Pet Finder always you to search by location, breed, age and gender. The site brings you to local shelters and rescues that currently have adoptable dogs that meet your criteria.

Consider a corporate match for your pet donation fee

Many shelters require a “donation” or fee to adopt a pet. If your employer offers a matching gifts program, see if the shelter is a qualifying 501(c)(3), or organization that qualifies for non-profit status. If it is, many employers will match your pet adoption donation, doubling the support you provide to the shelter.

Make sure it’s a right fit

Before you bring your new furry friend home, be sure it’s a right fit. Consider visiting the dog a few times before bringing him home. Bring every member of your family with on the visits, and consider bringing any family pets, if the shelter allows it.

Here are a few recommended tests to see if the dog is a right fit for you:

  • Do you have you children? If so, consider the risks. Give the dog’s tail a little tug and see how he reacts. Feed the dog a treat and see if he is aggressive or protective with his food. Take a toy away from the dog and see how he reacts. These are all things a child might do, so you want to make sure you are comfortable with the dog’s reaction. Instincts cannot be altered, so what you see at the shelter is what you will get at home.
  • Spend time with the pet, beyond a five minute walk. Many shelter dogs are cooped up in a cage for most of the day. They usually will be very excited to see you when they are allowed out. See if your shelter has a private play room so you can spend some one-on-one time with the dog to learn his personality after the initial excitement wears off. Many dogs will be jumpy and excited for the first 5-10 minutes, but their true personalities will come out after they have had time to relax and get comfortable with you. A dog that seems very energetic in the cage may be a true cuddlier when he calms down.

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