Summary: What tips and suggestions exist for those people considering adopting a dog from a dog shelter or dog rescue organization? This article discusses dog rescue adoption tips when embarking on the process of adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue.
How to Adopt a Dog from a Rescue or Shelter?
You have decided to bring a dog into the family. You have already chosen which breed, size and age you want. Now the real fun begins. Its time to find the dog! There are many places to get a dog. The internet is a great source of information and options. There are many reputable breeders that offer quality dogs and puppies. And, of course, there are local shelters and breed rescues. In this article I am going to focus on how to select a dog from a dog shelter and rescue organization.
Dangerous Dogs at Dog Rescues/Shelters?
Many dog rescues exist in many cities all across the country. Most cities have a dog pound or humane society location. The dogs found there are not necessarily bad dogs. There are many reasons for a dog to be impounded or relinquished to the humane society. It is often a heartbreaking decision to re-home a pet. Not all owners are bad or unfeeling people. Therefore, many of their pets were treated with love and respect. Some dogs were found running the streets and were unable to be returned to their owners.
IF YOU HAVEN’T MICRO-CHIPPED YOUR DOG, DO IT NOW! If you have, but have moved, or changed your contact information, update it with your microchip provider! Call your local shelter. They can insert a chip at a much lower cost than your vet.
Dog Rescue Adoption Tips
Now that I got that out of my system, let’s continue talking about animal shelters. There are several things you can do to help yourself and your family pick the right dog from the shelter. I cannot cover every possibility, but I do have some basic suggestions to help you when you get to the shelter. The following are 9 dog rescue adoption tips for selecting your dog from an animal shelter or animal rescue:
- Picking the shelter or rescue: There are many to choose from, so take your time and decide who you want to support the most. Your city likely has a city-wide or county-wide dog shelter/pound. Their adoption costs are usually less than private rescue groups. All dog rescues provide a GREAT service to communities across the country. By adopting from a rescue, you are supporting a wonderful cause. Many rescue groups have purebred and AKC registered dogs, so if you have your heart set on a purebred dog, don’t despair. But don’t allow yourself to give up on the idea of a Heinz 57 (a mutt). Learn about your local rescues and if you can’t find what you are looking for, look into national rescues.
- Adoption Application Process: After you have chosen which rescue (or rescues) you want to look into, pick up a pet adoption application. Read it thoroughly! Each group has different policies when it comes to adoption, and if needed, re-homing an adopted pet. Some allow a trial period to make sure it’s a good fit before making the final commitment. Of course, there are rules about other pets, kids, and housing. If you rent, you will have to show proof that you are allowed to have a dog.
- Know What You Want in a Dog: Before you go to the shelter, know what size, gender, age, and breed of dog you are looking for. We cover that in another article. Again, don’t discount a mutt. They are WONDERFUL companions!
- Take Time in Your Decision: DO NOT MAKE A SNAP DECISION. Look at all the dogs available. If you don’t see exactly what you are looking for, wait. It’s hard to not take them all home, but you can’t. Wait for the one. You will know.
- ASK ASK ASK: Talk to the dog shelter/rescue staff. Tell them your lifestyle and a basic idea of what dog you are looking for. Many dog shelters have a color, word, or shape coding system that helps you know which dogs might fit your criteria. (i.e. dogs with yellow tags, or hearts, or the word relaxed) Talk to the dog lady. She will know many of the dogs personally, and can point some out that you may not have considered. Ask, ask, ask. Did I mention ask!?
- Make Concessions: Don’t be worried if the dog you fall for isn’t the exact breed, size, or age you were looking for. It’s okay to make some concessions. Things that are not negotiable are: does he/she get along with your current pets? Kids? Other family members? Allergies, time constraints, and your lifestyle are NOT negotiable. Small concessions, like fur length, size, color, gender, and sometimes dominant breed can be negotiable.
- Temperament Test: Most rescues will temperament test a dog before placing him up for adoption. (refer to #5) Ask the shelter staff to help you out on this one. Also, don’t be afraid to conduct some tests on your own. Its important for you to know how the dog reacts to certain situations. Keep in mind that how he acts in the shelter may be completely different than how he acts once he is acclimated to your home and family.
Here are some things to try*: Jingle your keys and then drop them on the floor. If the dog runs away, you may not want him in a home around children. Touch his feet, especially between his toes and his toenails. Pull gently on his tail. Touch his face, ears, eyelids, and mouth. You need to know how he is going to react, especially if you have children in the home or that come over often. Give him a toy and observe his behavior when you try to take it from him. Hold a treat in your fingertips. Keep a grip on it. Does he use his teeth on your hand, or does he lick you until you relinquish it? Any observation you make will help you to be educated. If you are nervous, DO NOT ATTEMPT these activities.*
- Is There a Connection? When I adopted my Brutus (a fantastic mutt) from the shelter, I just KNEW he was mine. I wanted a large, smart, active dog. When I saw his picture on the rescue website, I felt a very strong connection. We went to the shelter the next day. When we got there, I was surprised by his behavior at the shelter. He was loud and hyper. I took him into the yard to play with him. He responded wonderfully once he had gotten out some of his energy. We took him home that day and never looked back!
But before Brutus, I had exercised and tested over 12 dogs. I can name most of them. But with each, there just wasn’t a connection between him/her and I. Because I had tried it out with so many different dogs, I knew when it was right. I saw and felt the connection with Brutus. So did my kids. We couldn’t have asked for a better match! Pay attention to your inner voice/instinct/spirit. If it doesn’t feel quite right, don’t do it. Take your time and find that connection.
NO SNAP DECISIONS: Don’t be afraid to admit that you aren’t ready for a dog. If you really want to help out, donate some money or food or other items the shelter needs. You can even foster if you aren’t ready to make a lifetime commitment. But don’t, please don’t, take home a dog that you aren’t really ready for. He will end up at another shelter or in another home, and that’s just not worth it, even if it makes you feel better to take a dog home today. Take your time, do everyone a favor, and don’t make any snap decisions.
Good luck! I am so excited for you and I hope you are excited as well. It is wonderful to share your life with a dog. Now that you are a little more educated, you can make a GREAT decision and choice. Go rescue your dog and enjoy the rest of your time together!
*If you feel nervous, don’t attempt any of these tests. Some dogs will bite. Some may show extreme submissiveness. The purpose of these temperament tests is for you to know how he might behave in different situations.
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