Adopting a dog is a loving act that gives a dog another chance at life, and hopefully, a happy home. Most owners will say that bringing home a rescue dog brings joy and fulfillment to their life.

However, choosing a shelter dog is a decision that should be made after much consideration. You want to make sure that you can provide a stable home and that the arrangement will benefit both the dog as well as everyone in your household.

Here are some questions to ask a dog shelter before you move forward with adoption:

Start With Asking Yourself a Few Things

Before you add a dog to your household, you want to really consider your reasons for doing so. Research the type of dog or dogs you’re interested in, what kind of care and attention a particular breed requires, what kind of financial obligation you’re signing up for in bringing a dog home, and so on.

Other questions to ask include:

“Do I want a puppy or an older dog?”

“Am I prepared to devote the necessary time in training and caring for a new dog?”

“Who is going to walk this dog?”

“Does everyone in the household want a dog?”

“Is everyone in the house or am I myself willing to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate this dog?

Adopting a dog can be a wonderful experience and offer you the opportunity to open your heart and home to a new friend that you’ll love for many years. Once you are able to answer these questions comfortably, you can move on toward choosing a shelter dog.

What Are the Dog’s Physical Characteristics?

Before choosing a shelter dog, learn some things about his or her physical characteristics. This will help you in knowing if you can afford to feed a dog of that size, if the dog will require extra grooming, if the dog’s type of fur will spur allergies, etc.

Knowing about the dog’s physical characteristics can also clue you into the dog’s breed and knowing a dog’s breed can help learn about a dog’s temperament. Herding breeds, for example, like to keep active and busy, while working breeds are protective in nature.

Is the Dog Well Socialized?

When you’re considering adopting a dog into your family, ask the shelter about his or her social skills. Ask if the dog seems to prefer men, women, or children or is the dog friendly with everyone? Other questions to ask are:

“Has the dog ever bitten anyone?”

“Does the dog growl a lot?”

“Does the dog get along well with others?”

“Is this dog friendly with cats?”

Dogs that are afraid or have been abused in the past tend to bite, growl, and show aggression more than other dogs. This can be a potentially dangerous situation, especially with children in the home.

If you want to move forward with a dog that has aggression issues, consider asking a dog trainer to help you talk to someone at the dog shelter to discuss the dog’s issues and evaluate the dog. Getting a third party opinion can help you make an educated decision.

Has the Dog Had Any Obedience Training?

Don’t hesitate to ask if the dog you’re considering has had any formal obedience training. Ask if he comes when called. Ask if she has been trained to behave herself while in the house.

Does the dog know how and where to relieve himself? Does the dog jump up on others or chew the furniture inside or outside? Does the dog dig holes in the yard? Knowing this information about a dog’s behavior can help you decide if you want to adopt or wait for a dog that is better suited to your family.

Once you have decided to move forward with adoption, it’s not a bad idea for the owner and the newly adopted dog to attend a training class together. This helps start the relationship off on the right foot while providing an opportunity for dog and owner to get to know each other.

Other Important Questions When Choosing a Shelter Dog

Other good questions to ask before choosing a shelter dog might include:

“Does this dog like to stay in the room with people, watching, but not acting, or does she like to stay seated in your lap?”

“Does he like playing games and being active, and if so, what games does he enjoy?”

“What kind of food is he used to eating? And how many meals a day?”

“Are there any health issues I should be aware of? And if so, what are they? Has she been seen by a vet and would I be able to obtain any health records?”

Ask all the questions you can think of ahead of time so that you can make a well-informed decision. Helpful shelter employees will be happy to help you and provide insight where they can. Keep in mind that all the answers to your questions may not be available, especially if the dog in question was abandoned or is a stray.

Learn More

Knowing how to go about choosing a shelter dog to love and care for will aid you in making the best decision for yourself and the dog you bring home.

Learn more about the rewards of a shelter dog relationship in this touching article, and browse our many other stories and articles that aim to bring owners and their best friends closer together.

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