Tuesday Top Ten: Tips for Choosing Your Shelter Dog

This is both National Adopt a Shelter Dog Week and Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.  In honor of this momentous occasion, we bring you the top ten things you need to think about when you’re picking out a new member for your family.

10.  Your Lifestyle:  If you’re very active outdoors, you might want an active dog who will keep up with you.  If you’re not home very often, you might want an older dog who is already crate trained.

9.  Dog’s Age:  If you will be home a lot soon after the adoption, you might be able to deal with a puppy’s needs such as potty training and crate training.  However, if you work full-time, an older dog might be better for you.

8.  Your Kids’ Ages:  Very young children are often too rough for small dogs who can have fragile bones, particularly during puppyhood.  And do some research to help you find a breed and a specific dog that has had positive experiences with children.

7.   Dog’s Activity Level:  Some dogs, for example, Labradors, are very active until they reach old age.  Others, like Basset Hounds, become doorstops very soon after their first year of life.

6.  Dog Size:  Size is not always related to activity level, but you’ll want to make sure you have enough room both inside & outside of your home for the size of dog you choose.  Don’t forget:  puppies grow and grow and grow!  And then they grow some more.  Your shelter should be able to give you and estimate of the dog’s expected adult size.

5.   Your budget:  Small dogs cost less to feed, groom, and care for.

4.  Your family’s allergies:  Although all dogs shed fur, skin cells, and saliva to some extent, certain dogs are known to be hypo-allergenic.  Poodles are the least likely to cause you to sneeze.  It’s also possible that your allergies will react worse to certain dogs or breeds than to others.  Check out the individual dog to see how it affects your particular sensitivities.

3.  Don’t be afraid of mutts.  Some of the best, most well-adjusted dogs haven’t had any purebred genes infect their family trees for many generations.  If you’re not a breeder and don’t plan on showing your dog, a pedigree really isn’t something you need to have.

2.  Dog’s Dominance:   Ask the shelter if you can take the dog out of his or her cage to see how the dog interacts with your family.  If you choose a very dominant dog, you will have to be an uber-dominant dog parent.  If you are not interested in having to prove your dominance to your dog every single day, you will want to look for a more submissive four-legger.

1.  How soon can you spay/neuter the dog?  If you are adopting from a shelter that doesn’t spay or neuter dogs before releasing them, find out from your vet how soon he or she recommends the surgery.  Don’t bring home a dog if you can’t afford to spay/neuter.  You will only be adding to the pet overpopulation problem in this country, creating an even bigger burden on shelters and rescue organizations.

Dogs are usually at shelters though no fault of their own.  Won’t you take one home this month?

Until next time,

Good day, and good dog!

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