Choosing a Dog from the Shelter

This is another article in our series about “Choosing a Dog.”  This time we come from the angle of adopting a dog from a Shelter or Humane Society.dog trainer

There are many good dogs in Shelters that simply need a change to “stretch their wings” and become a part of a family.  Like with choosing a dog anywhere, choose carefully.

  1. Adopt from a Shelter that is clean.
  2. Find out if the dog is given play time outside of his/her “run” each day. A dog may be super energetic at a Shelter if he/she hasn’t had sufficient exercise.  Take that dog home and give it some play time each day and there’s a good chance he/she will mellow out – at least some.
  3. Adopt from a Shelter who has a friendly staff. Yes, just like with trainers, breeders and others, you will find some staff members can be rather cranky.  Maybe it’s because of what they’ve been through that day.  They acquired three dogs:  one from an abusive situation, one because of neglect, and the third because “we just don’t want him anymore.”  That being said, grumpy staff members (while we understand their bad days) make for an unpleasant experience.  So it may best to move on.
  4. Be sure the dog is current on his/her vaccinations and is in general good health: shiny coat, clear eyes, clean ears.

A word of caution:  a dog that has lived on a concrete pad for a long time, or even in a crate/kennel, can often be difficult to housetrain.  It make take some re-programming to teach him that outdoors on a grassy area is the place to do his business.

Bear in mind that Shelter dogs are usually not in the Shelter because something is wrong with them.  A responsible Shelter will not have these kind of dogs available for adoption anyway.  Some people drop them off for the most ridiculous reasons, believe me.  Yes, some dogs have issues.  But that’s what trainers are for.

If you have the patience and the heart to adopt an older dog – go for it!  There are dogs – in no-kill Shelters – that have been there for three, five, even eight years!!!  It would be nice to provide these pooches with a loving home for the last few years of their lives.  Some of these dogs may have “aggression” issues towards other dogs.  But if you only plan on having the dog you adopt, this may be a perfect opportunity for you and the dog.

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