Should you adopt a shelter dog? The short answer is… YES!
Millions of dogs are surrendered to shelters every year. If you are someone who has a certain soft spot for animals, (and if you are reading this, you probably do) this likely tears you up inside. Fortunately there are many things that you can do to ease the load on overburdened shelters, not least of which is to adopt a shelter dog.
Adopting a shelter dog has tons of benefits. You’ll not only be saving a life, but you’ll also likely be adopting a dog that is already house trained and used to being around families. Not that adopting a dog should ultimately come down to how good of a deal you can get, but you can also save a lot of money on fees that go toward spaying and neutering your new pet because those are usually included in the cost of adoption.
This all might sound great to you, and you might be ready to adopt a new dog but before you do, there are a few things to consider when you are meeting a dog for the first time.
Here’s a list of 9 questions that I think are good general things to ask when you are considering adopting a dog. There are a ton of other, more specific questions that you could add to this list, but I think these cover a lot of good basic information that you should have. If you are so inclined, jot these questions down so that you can have them on hand when you next visit a shelter.
How long has the dog been at the shelter? Asking this will give you some insight on the dog’s behavior around strangers. If the dog has been at the shelter for a longer time than what seems normal, it might not be a bad idea to inquire the reasons why the dog has not been adopted yet.
What are the circumstances of the dog coming into the shelter's care? By asking this question, you can gain insight on their living conditions prior to coming in to shelter. If the dog was taken out of an abusive home, you might also ask the shelter about any behavioral issues as a result of any potential abuse or trauma.
How old is the dog? It may be hard to accurately measure a shelter dog’s age, depending on how they came into the shelter’s care. A dog that was rescued off of the streets may not have any form of identification that might provide the shelter with that information but it’s always a good question to ask.
How does the dog act around other dogs? Ask the shelter if the dog has any behavioral issues or aggressive tendencies when it comes to other dogs. This is especially important if you are thinking of adopting a new dog and already have one or more dogs. You don’t want to adopt a dog that needs to go to a home where they are the only dog, and try to integrate them into a large pack of dogs. This could be stressful for the new dog, and could result in them acting out violently.
Does the dog show signs of separation anxiety? If you work long hours, you might want to reconsider adopting a shelter dog, but it is always a good idea to ask about separation anxiety. In order to prevent destruction to your home, and stress to your new dog, it is a good idea to ask about this, so that you can plan accordingly when you bring your new dog home.
Is the dog house trained? Most of the time, shelter dogs come from houses in which they are already potty trained. However, you should never assume that a dog is house broken just because they are a grown adult dog.
Is the dog fixed? You should ask whether or not the dog is fixed, because you may end up having to foot the bill for the surgery. Ask the shelter about whether or not the dog has been fixed, and if not, ask whether or not the adoption fee will cover the necessary surgery.
Is the dog chipped? If the dog is chipped, you may be able to gain access to a lot of potentially helpful information when you are considering adopting a specific dog.
How does the dog act around children? This question is imperative to ask if you have a child, or you are planning to have a child. Dogs who have never been socialized around children may not be as patient as dogs who are used to kids and may lash out. Asking this question will help you greatly lessen the potential for this to happen.
If you’ve asked all of these questions and everything seems to be like a good fit for you and a potential dog, stop and ask yourself these questions: Am I ready for the kind of work it takes to make a shelter dog feel comfortable in my house? Am I financially able to support this dog, even if something happens down the line and the dog needs medical attention or a special diet?
If you’ve asked all the important questions, and you still think you are ready to adopt a dog from the shelter, go and find the perfect companion. There is nothing more noble in the world of pets than adopting a dog who is down on their luck and bringing them into your home and your family to show them the love they truly deserve. That is a commendable thing, and there is something to be said for people who feel driven to do so.