Inspection Tips for Adopting a Dog

Try to bond with the dog at the shelter.
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If you’re looking for inspection tips before adopting a dog, you’re ahead of the game. Many folks purchase pups right off the Internet, site unseen. This is a bad idea because Internet breeders can be worse than puppy mill breeders; Internet breeders don’t need to be regulated. It’s always best to inspect a dog before you adopt so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. After all, you’ll probably have this pup for the next 10 to 15 years.

Pre-visit Work

Before visiting a shelter or rescue, check it out online, recommends trainer Sue Sternberg on Petfinder. If the dog descriptions all sound similar, such as “sweet, friendly and loving,” that could be a red flag, which signals a shelter doesn’t know its animals well or, worse, doesn’t want to say what the real personalities might be. Avoid such shelters. A good shelter will allow you to return a dog any time, will let you take the dog on a walk and can tell you about the dog’s temperament. It’s common to travel up to three hours from home to find a good shelter or rescue.


Look for a social dog above all else; you’ll likely have the most success transitioning a social dog to your home. A social dog likes to be near you. He’s friendly, affectionate and bonds easily with people. You’ll probably have lots of fun with a social dog.

Determine Whether a Dog is Sociable

Approach a dog that strikes your fancy, and put your hand on his kennel. The dog should walk over to sniff it. Say, “Good dog!” Move your hand slowly across the kennel. A social dog should follow it. Bad reactions include dogs who slink or cower at your approach or who aggressively bark or lunge at you. Don’t choose a dog just because you feel sorry for it -- you can’t rescue every dog there. Your job is to find the best dog for you.

Walk the Dog

When you find a social dog you like, ask to walk him. Once you are away from the commotion of the shelter, find a quiet place and sit down. The dog should come to you to seek your attention. If he does, slowly pet his back or scratch his chest. He should enjoy this. If he moves away or shows aggression, keep looking. He also should not mouth you, even in a playful way, because that behavior can lead to biting.

Children, Lifestyle, Other Dogs

If you have a small child or another dog, introduce them to the dog you’re considering. Your potential dog should want to greet your child. To determine whether both dogs will get along, take them for a walk together. The dog you adopt should also fit with your lifestyle. If you’re a high-energy person who loves to play, jog or walk daily, a high-energy dog is a good fit. If you want a quiet dog who is content to live in an apartment, choose a dog who isn’t as active. When you have a different energy level from your dog, you’ll both be frustrated, according to Cesar Millan on his website, Cesar’sWay.