Adoption saves the lives of pets and can help end puppy mill breeding. The only problem is that people often get sucked in by a cute face and puppy eyes and forget to ask questions about the dog they adopt. This can lead to the dog being returned to the shelter because he wasn't a good fit for the owner. If you want to end up with the best dog for you and your family, you need to know everything about that pet.
Why is the Dog in the Shelter and How Long Has He Been Here?
It's important to learn the background of the dog so that you have a better understanding of what to expect. Dogs who were given up by long-term owners may be housebroken, but may also take time to adjust to a new home. Shelters won't always know the circumstances, but it helps to get as much information as you can.
Is He Good With Other Pets and Kids?
If you have other pets in the home, you must find out if the dog will get along with them. Some dogs absolutely love kids, while others will growl and snap at them. If you have children, you must make sure a dog will get along with them as well.
Has He Shown Aggressive Tendencies?
While an aggressive dog can be trained, it's important to know what you're getting yourself into. In some cases, the dog may have been aggressive when he came to the shelter, but has shown improvement. If you adopt a dog who has shown aggression in the past, you must be able to act as the alpha of your pack in order to prevent this behavior from happening in the future.
What Breed Is He?
Breed can tell you a lot about what to expect from the dog. While each dog has his own individual personality, some breeds have characteristic traits. For example, Labs can be extremely loyal, but do require a lot of exercise, while Chihuahuas love to please their owners, but can also be aggressive. In many cases, the shelter is only able to guess at what breed(s) the dog is. If the dog was abandoned by his owner, the shelter may have been told what breed he is. When found on the streets, the shelter only has the information of what a vet guesses the breed to be.
What's His Medical History?
Medical history is very important. You want to make sure the dog has been spayed or neutered, or that the shelter will provide a certificate to have the surgery done. You also want to know whether or not the dog is up to date on vaccinations, if he's had heartworms, any medical treatments he's had while in the shelter or any medical conditions he currently has.
What Kind of Personality Does He Have?
Just like humans, dogs have personalities. While one dog may be a couch potato, another may be hyper. Choose a dog with a personality that suits your lifestyle. If you enjoy watching movies in your spare time, find a dog who doesn't require much outdoor exercise.
What's Involved in the Application Process?
Applications vary from shelter to shelter and it's important to know what to expect so that you can gather all the necessary information. Most shelters will want to know about your previous pet history, will want a number where they can obtain a vet reference, and will want to know how you plan to take care of the dog. In some cases, the shelter may also send someone to look at your home to make sure it's safe for the pet.
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