Before You Adopt

bulldog-cropYou’re starting an exciting journey in dog parenting!

We want to be sure you start off on the right foot. After all, shelters are filled with pets that were chosen for the wrong reasons. Think about your lifestyle before you look for a dog. This will help you bring home a dog that’s compatible with your needs.

You should consider:

  • why you are getting a dog (companionship, exercise, protection)
  • how much time your dog will be alone each day
  • whether you need a dog that will get along with children
  • the age and strength of everyone in your household
  • whether you need a dog that will get along with other pets
  • how much time you have to exercise a dog
  • how much time you are willing to put into training a dog
  • whether you have had a dog before
  • whether you want an enthusiastic or a laid-back dog
  • whether you are strong-willed or more sensitive
  • whether you are home enough to housebreak and train a puppy
  • how attached you are to your “things”
  • whether you can tolerate shedding (cleanliness and/or allergy-wise)
  • the size and type of your home and yard
  • whether you have a fence, how high, and what kind
  • restrictions on the size or type of dog allowed
  • whether you will walk a dog or let him out in your yard
  • whether a family member is allergic to dogs
  • whether there are special considerations (a dog that will travel every weekend, a dog you can take to work, a dog you can take to a nursing home)
  • If you can afford a dog (supplies, food, vet bills, licensing, grooming, training, boarding or dog walking)

Puppy, Adolescent, Adult, or Senior?

Puppies are the cutest!! They’re also the most work. A puppy’s bladder isn’t fully developed, so you’ll need to be around to let him out every two hours. It’s a lot like having a human baby and you will lose sleep. It’s really rewarding work, but it is work. Puppy classes are also necessary to raising a well-adjusted and friendly dog.

Adolescent dogs (ages 6 months – 3 years, depending on breed) are like teenage children. They may know better but want to test your limits, act out, and do their own thing. It’s no surprise that lots of them end up in the shelter. An adolescent dog, like a teenager, needs a parent that can be kind but consistent about the rules of the house. Continued training will help you get through this period with both your sanity and a well-behaved dog.

Adult dogs (3+) have gotten over their puppy foolishness. Regardless of age, they can be taught “new tricks.” They can hold their bladders, be taught what is a toy and what is not, and will generally be appreciative of their chance at a new home. An adult dog that is a bit “rough around the edges” (fearful, shy, rowdy, or reactive) will likely improve with positive training. We have classes that will help dogs with these issues.

Senior dogs (6-8+, depending on breed) are wonderful companions. They have been there, done that and want to enjoy their golden years. Many of the senior dogs we see in rescue are sweet, healthy dogs that simply outlived their owner’s ability to care for them.

Your List

You should have a list at this point.  For example, it would may be:

  • Adult
  • 30-60 lbs (medium to medium-large size)
  • Dog that likes children
  • Medium-to-high energy for jogging, playing with kids, etc
  • Single family home, big fenced backyard (chain-link, 4 ft)
  • Will get a run in the morning, dog walker at lunch, after school play with kids, evening walk.
  • Would prefer no major bad habits, but will take to Basic Manners class

Or maybe:

  • Adult or Senior
  • Under 15 lbs (toy breed/mix)
  • Snuggly and kissy
  • Low energy: would be fine with short walks
  • Apartment, would walk on leash in the neighborhood
  • Okay with a dog that needs to be the “only dog”

Have “The Talk” (Don’t Worry, It’s Fun!)

Gather the members of your household. Discuss who will walk the dog, feed the dog, and exercise the dog. While it is optimistic to say that this is “the kids’ dog,” this is unrealistic. (Those of us in rescue hear this story over and over from people surrendering a dog.)  Children will get bored, lazy, busy with other things, become moody teenagers, and eventually go off to college. It is quite likely your dog will be living at home longer than your children, so the adults in the household have to want and be willing to care for the dog.

Got your list? Had the talk? Let’s move on!

Next up… where to meet your perfect pup. Click to continue.