Monday, November 6, 2017

Questions to Ask Before You Adopt A Dog

Thinking about adopting a shelter or rescue dog?  Congratulations!  Your decision to Adopt Don't Shop will save a life.  Actually, it will save two lives.  You'll be saving the dog you adopt, and by getting one dog out of the shelter you've made room for another dog that needs to be saved as well!

Before you bring your new best friend home though, you'll want to find out as much as you can about the shelter dog, or rescue dog, you'll be adopting.  

When you go to a shelter and see all those cute adoptable dogs, you can't help but want to save them all!  You can't take them all home, but here are the questions you should ask to help you make the best decision on which dog is right for YOU. 

Important Questions to ask before you adopt a shelter or rescue dog.     #dogs #adoptabledogs
It's important to ensure the dog you adopt is the right fit for you and your family

HOW BIG WILL THIS DOG GET?


As an Adoption Counselor at an animal shelter, one of the first things people often ask is "How Big will this dog get?"  It's an important question.  Considering the breed/mix and current age and size of the dog, shelter staff can estimate fairly well how big a dog will be when full grown.  If the dog is a young puppy, it's not as easy.  Sometimes you can only guesstimate how big they'll get.  

Most dogs will be full grown by the age of 18 months.  Giant breeds such as Great Danes can continue growing for 2 years.  It's important to know how large a dog could get in case there are size restrictions for dogs in the apartment or the HOA (Home Owners Association) where you live.  

If you have small children it could be a concern that a large dog could jump on the kids and knock them over.  It may not ever become a concern, but it's something you should be prepared for.  You may need some additional training to Stop the Dog from Jumping up on people.


WHAT BREED OR BREED MIX IS HE?



Ask about the attributes of the breed(s) so you know what to expect.  Energy level and tendencies of the breed are import.  If you’re looking for a hiking or running companion then a high energy dog like a Siberian Husky or Border Collie might be a great companion for you.  If you prefer a mellow dog that doesn't need much exercise, a Husky or Border collie may not be a great fit!  A dog with a less intense energy level like a Shih Tzu, Boston Terrier, or Basset Hound  may be a better fit for your lifestyle.


WILL SHE SHED A LOT?


Will a dog that sheds a lot be an issue for you?  Just because a dog has a smooth coat or very thin hair that doesn't mean she won’t shed.  My sister has a Pug and the shedding drives her crazy!  

If your tolerance for shedding is low, look for non-shedding breeds or dogs that are mixed with a non shedding breed such as the Poodle, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Goldendoodle, or Bichon Frise.   By all means DON'T get a Siberian Husky!  It "snows" indoors at least twice a year!



Questions to ask before you adopt a dog.  How big the dog will get, if he sheds a lot and other attributes may be of concern to you.  #dog #pets
If shedding is a concern for you, look for a dog that is a non-shedding breed or mixed with non-shedding breeds.

IS HE PEOPLE FRIENDLY AND DOG FRIENDLY?


It's important to find out if a dog is friendly.  Not just friendly towards people but friendly towards other dogs as well, or at least not aggressive towards other dogs.  Shelter staff and volunteers don't always know for sure, but at most shelters and rescues they can tell if a dog likes people and other dogs.  They behavior assess the dog upon intake and they interact with him on a regular basis.  If they have play groups for the dogs they’ll be able to tell if he’s dog friendly or if he dislikes being around other dogs. 


I HAVE A DOG AT HOME, CAN I BRING HIM IN TO MEET THIS DOG?


Sometimes people who already have a dog(s) worry about bringing another dog into their home.  Ask the shelter to arrange a meeting with your current dog and the one you want to adopt to see if they get along.  If they can’t accommodate a meeting, make sure you can bring the dog back if he doesn't get along with your current dog(s).  Ask for guidance on how to properly introduce the dog to your current pets.  Set the dogs up for success, don't just throw them together and hope it works out!

Before you adopt a new dog, ask these important questions.
I wasn't sure how Icy and Phoebe would get along, but  with the right introduction they became close sisters!

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE ADOPTION FEE?


Ask what’s included in the adoption fee and what additional costs you might have to pay.  Most shelters and many rescues will have the dog spayed/neutered and include that in the adoption fee.  Vaccinations required up to the dog’s current age, such as Rabies, may also be included.  If you’re adopting a puppy, vaccinations and spay/neuter may need to be done later, at your cost.


DOES SHE HAVE ANY MEDICAL PROBLEMS THAT YOU KNOW OF?



Ask if the dog has been treated for any illness or injury at the shelter, or if they are aware of any medical  issues.  If so, ask about follow-up care, prognosis, and potential costs.  Kennel Cough and other respiratory illnesses are common in a shelter environment.   Some shelters will send you home with necessary medications for minor ailments.   Ask if the dog's illness is contagious and what precautions may be needed if you have other dogs at home.  Ask about known behavioral concerns as well and how best to address them.


WHERE DID THIS DOG COME FROM, HOW LONG HAS HE BEEN HERE?


Ask whether the dog was a stray picked up on the street, an owner surrender, puppy mill or hoarder rescue.  Most will probably be strays with little background information, but ask if there is any information on the dog’s history that might be helpful.

Ask how long the dog has been in the shelter.  Sometimes, long term shelter pets may have become fearful or withdrawn to some degree.  They've been living much of their lives in a cage and may need some extra TLC and time to re-adjust to having space and being a pet again!  I recently shared a blog post about a beautiful long term shelter dog who had been at the shelter for over 2 years!  I just found out she's been adopted.  I'm so happy for her and I'm grateful to whomever adopted her.

If the dog was an owner surrender, ask why the owner gave him up.  Know that sometimes owners lie.  They have
been known to say that a dog is a "bad dog" when in reality they just didn't put the time in to train or had unrealistic expectations. 

Before you adopt a dog, ask these important questions!  #dogs #adoptadog
My foster dog Rudy was the Best dog!  I wanted to adopt him so badly, but it wasn't the right time for us.

WHAT'S THIS DOG'S STORY?



There may be little known about the dog's history, but try to find out whatever you can.  Any information they can provide is helpful. 

Ask if the dog has ever bitten anyone that they know of, or if he displays aggression during feeding or playing with toys.  "Resource Guarding" can be a potentially dangerous behavior if it's not dealt with properly.  This type of behavior should have been detected on intake of the dog, but ask to be sure.

Ask if they know whether or not the dog has any fear of, or issues with; kids, cats or other pets, men, people wearing hats, etc.

You can ask if the dog is potty trained.  Puppies almost never are, older dogs often are.  One good indication that shelter staff and volunteers see is if a dog "holds it in" for a long time, not wanting to soil their kennel.  It often means they've been potty trained at some point, they're trying to hold it in until someone takes them outside.  

Dogs who defecate in their kennels, stepping in or laying in their poo, are often not house-broken at all.  They can certainly be trained, it just takes more time.   Any dog brought into a new home environment needs to be shown when and how they are expected to potty.  You can't expect them to figure out where the doors are or when and where they're expected to potty all on their own.

Asking these questions can help you make the best decision about which dog is right for your family, and will give you an idea of what to expect as you bring your new best friend home.  Avoid the heartbreak of finding out that you can't handle the dog you've adopted or that that dog isn't a good fit.  No one should have to go through the pain of returning their adopted dog to the shelter, especially the dog.  

Other blog posts you may like:
If you've adopted a dog with fear issues, find tips on how to Help your Fearful Dog.

Is your heart set on a particular breed of dog?  No need to shop, there are Breed Specific Resuce Organizations for nearly every breed of dog

I know it's tempting, especially during the holidays, but Please Don't get someone else a puppy as a gift! Getting a puppy for someone else could turn out to be the worst "gift" you ever give.



Leave us a comment and tell us what other questions you think are important to ask when adopting a new pet? 



36 comments:

  1. All of these are important things to ask for a successful adoption. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. These are great tips! The one thing I suggest is asking more about the dog's personality and temperament, as opposed to focusing on his/her breed or breed mix. Especially with mixed breed dogs, shelters often are taking a wild guess about what mix the dog is, as it can be a mixture of 10 breeds and look like something totally different. As a foster and a rescue volunteer, I try to focus more on the individual dog and the needs of that dog. Exercise needs, training needs, likes and dislikes, personality quirks, rather than general breed information, which can give people false expectations. Just my 2 cents :)

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    1. Oh definitely the individual traits of each dog is very important. Shelter staff and volunteers can usually share a good amount of information after the dog has been there just a short time. I think both the dog's individuality and the breed/mix are important. A Husky mix is probably still going to be a relatively high energy dog that sheds, even if he's mixed with a mellow breed that doesn't shed. If a dog is mixed with a lot of breeds, traits may be diluted and he may not show the traits of any specific breed affiliation. Then you may not be able to tell much on that end.

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  3. Great tips to consider, especially knowing the backstory of a pet. Some shelter animals have been surrendered or through horrific experiences so they may not be so easy to adapt to a new home. These are great helpful tips to consider before adopting a dog.

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    1. Thanks Kamira. That's true, sometimes a dog comes from a terrible environment and it may take much longer to adapt to a loving home. In these cases it really helps if the dog is fostered by an experienced fosterer until he's better prepared to go to a forever home.

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  4. these questions to ask are really useful -- it will make sure people know what they're getting in to so they don't regret the adoption and cause the dog more trauma.... ~ Dear Mishu

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    1. Thanks, I'm glad you think so! It is very helpful to find out as much as you can about a pet before you adopt.

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  5. Every successful venture is about asking the right question before beginning the journey. The more one understands what they're getting into, the more likely they will be successful.

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    1. Absolutely! Knowledge can be so helpful. If you're aware and prepared you set yourself up much better for success.

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  6. Fantastic list and all rescue organizations should give it out before they allow people to adopt, not to make life difficult but the opposite, to make people think of all the aspects of adopting

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    1. That's such a great idea Ruth! I do wish more information would always be shared up front. With rescues vs. shelters they often get to know the dogs pretty intimately and can provide a lot more information about the dog, even if they don't have all the history.

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  7. Thanks for bringing these questions to people's attention. These could definitely help cut down on shelter returns. Adopting a pet is a big responsibility that needs to be well thought out.

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    1. Oh definitely! So many times people return a dog because they just didn't expect the dog to get so big, or didn't think the dog would have so much energy, and other reasons that could have been informed before they adopted.

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  8. These are great questions to ask before you adopt a dog. I asked some of those, but not all of them, before we adopted Theo. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have mattered what the answers were though, my kids knew he belonged with us.

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    1. Sometimes you just know the dog will be right for you! You don't have to have all the answers before you adopt but it certainly helps to be as informed and prepared as possible.

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  9. Great tips! I would just add: Is the whole family ready for this, and is it best for everyone? When we decided to adopt Luke, we wanted a puppy because we felt that would be best for our sometimes dog-reactive Cricket. I think I took a full two weeks to finally make the decision that we were all ready. I even made sure I could adjust my work hours to be home for a puppy. It's not just whether it's the right dog, but whether adding another dog is right for everyone.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. You are SO right Janet! Everyone should be on board and know what to expect before bringing any animal into the household.

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  10. Nice list of questions to ask and things to consider. Adopting a dog that's right for you and your family can require a lot of planning and preparation. It is definitely important to be prepared for activity level, friendliness, expected size, shedding etc. Nice post.

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    1. Thank you, I'm so glad you like the questions. Planning and preparation are always a good thing before bringing an animal home. It should be just an impulse.

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  11. It is so important for people to do their research before adopting a dog. Great tips thanks.

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    1. I wish people would do more research and plan for a new pet more than they often do. Just being aware and prepared goes a long way in being successful with a new pet.

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  12. Excellent questions to ask before adopting a shelter dog. When I was looking for a new Persian kitten after losing Sweet Praline, the breeder I ended up adopting from gave me a list of important questions to ask. Her questions kept me from getting a kitten from someone because of the vagueness of her answers. Everyone should ask important questions before bringing a fur child into their lives.

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    1. I'm so glad you got a list of pertinent questions and that it helped you make a good adoption! It really is so important to be informed and prepared for any new pet.

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  13. Great list of questions. I may be looking for a dog soon and this would be a great list to have with me.

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    1. Thanks Sandy! I'm so glad you found these questions helpful, I hope they'll be useful to you when you're ready for the new dog!

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  14. It's hard to tell whether you are getting truthful answers to your questions when you adopt a dog from the shelter. The owners often blame the dog rather than themselves when they surrender a dog and rarely do they reveal if a dog has bitten someone because that is a death sentence at many shelters. These are excellent tips. The dogs will tell their story when they feel your love.

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    1. Sadly, that is true. I've seen owners say things about a dog they're surrendering that just don't add up. You're right, a dog that's bitten someone often has a very sad fate at some shelters especially municipal shelters.

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  15. I was completely naive adopting Dolly I had no idea what I wanted so these are really good tips. Good shelters like where we adopted Dolly have a very thorough application process to make sure you adopt a dog that will fit your lifestyle, which I had no clue until doing them. Sandra and Dolly

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    1. That's so funny, Dolly is such a great dog and a wonderful fit for you. You both lucked out! I'm glad your shelter is diligent about who adopts from them and doesn't just adopt animals to anyone with a pulse!

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  16. All such great tips! I'd love to see this in a printout for all shelters to hand out to perspective adopters! You are right though, sometimes folks omit some of the dog's traits...like when my mom adopted her last dog, they omitted telling her an important part of her past - she bit out of fear! That would have helped save a few wounded hands. And being a fellow Husky mom, I so agree with educating them on those indoor fur snowstorms and activity level - this type of information helps on the dog being surrendered. I am sharing and Pinning this! Excellent article, Cathy!

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    1. Thank you, I'm glad you like our tips! Wow, what a fabulous idea to have a list like this at shelters! I love that idea, although I think shelters may not want to have to spend the time asking the questions or being pressed for information they don't have. I think it's a great tool for any shelter or rescue to have for themselves to try to get as much of this info as possible. It's hard with strays but can be done with an owner surrender. OMG, that's awful about your mom's dog! I can't believe they knew that and didn't tell her, that's really irresponsible. Thanks so much for sharing this, I really appreciate that!

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  17. The backstory of a potential pet may be one of the most important questions you ask. Most dogs can overcome a less than perfect background with the right help and lots of love, but you don't know how to give that love and reassurance if you don't know what came before. Get details whenever you can so that you know what a pet's triggers are and what you can do to help them overcome them.

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    1. Exactly! I would always ask and try to find out as much info as I can. Great point that you don't know how you can help a dog with issues if you don't know what may have happened to them before.

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  18. Great list of things to consider. The shelter I volunteer at won’t let folks adopt a dog until it’s met any other dogs in the family as well as every family member. So be sure to ask yourself, “Is everyone in the family onboard with this?”

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    1. Thanks Jackie! That is a great rule your shelter has, a meet & greet with any other dog in the home already (on "neutral" territory if possible) is very important. it's important to meet family members too just in case someone isn't on board or doesn't like the dog for some reason - I've actually seen a family member not like a dog if you can believe it!

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