If you are thinking about adopting a dog, there are
several important steps that can help make this important
endeavor successful, both for you and for the dog you
- Define for yourself precisely what you are looking
for in a dog. How do you see a dog sharing your life?
- Be as realistic as possible about how a dog will
actually fit into your life. How much time do you
have to devote to care, exercise, grooming, and training?
If you work all day and have obligations in the evenings,
you might want to consider adopting a cat instead.
- Learn about different breeds and what you can expect
from them. This can be helpful in evaluating mixed
breeds as well as purebreds. Try not to fall in love
with a look. Consider temperament, activity and size,
as well as what the particular breed is designed
- Consider the expense involved. Shelter personnel
and/or a veterinarian can help you anticipate, at
least in a general way, the cost of owning a dog.
A good quality food is important, and there will
always be medical bills. Training classes are essential.
Once you have evaluated
your situation, decided that you do want to look
for a dog, and have a sense of what kind of a dog
you would like, what next?
- Talk with the people caring for the animals (vets
with adoptable dogs, shelter personnel, etc.).
Explain what you are looking for. Ask about the
dog’s history and temperament. Remember the
importance of making a good match, and don’t
adopt simply because you feel sorry for a homeless
- If you are interested in a specific breed, inquire
at shelters. Purebreds do turn up there.
- Consider adopting an adult dog, even an older
adult. Older adults have usually settled down,
and that’s a nice feature. With an adult
dog, you may get a better sense of how he or she
will turn out, allowing, of course, for temporary
adjustment to a new home.
- Check the Internet, searching key words such
as dog adoption, animal shelters, etc.
- Do not bring children, especially young ones,
with you to help choose a dog. It is a sure route
to an impulse choice that you may regret later.
Wait until you have a good idea of the dog you
want, then bring the children along to see how
the dog and the children interact.
- Visit the dog several times before making a decision.
Take him or her for walks if possible. Notice how
the dog responds to other dogs and to people, including
- If you feel at all unsure, go to other shelters
and look at other dogs. Take your time. Think about
it. Sleep on it.