Guide to Adopting: Dogs

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Congratulations! You’re about to become a new dog parent. Few things are as rewarding as adopting and caring for a pooch. Bringing home a new dog is a big step. Here are some tips to adopting the perfect dog.

  1. Be realistic about your lifestyle and energy level. If you’re a couch potato, don’t adopt a dog who needs lots of exercise. Adopt a dog with the same or lower energy level as you. And if you work long hours or travel frequently, don’t adopt a puppy. They need lots of training and attention. Adopt a laid-back guy instead.
  2. Who else lives in your home? Do you have young children or other pets? It’s important to adopt a dog that will fit in safely and happily with all the members of your household. If you’re new to dog parenthood, have small children at home, and a demanding job, getting a high-maintenance dog might not be a good idea. You would probably do better with a chill, older dog who doesn’t need to be trained.
  1. Think critically about your future. Do you want kids? Plan on getting married? Every year, thousands of dogs are left at shelters because “family circumstances” changed. For a small number of people, there is a real, unexpected change. But most people simply decided to have a baby or are getting married. These are extremely common events in a person’s life. Plan ahead.
  2. Do you have a high-tolerance for fur and slobber? If you keep an extremely clean home, think hard before adopting a dog who sheds a lot or slobbers everywhere. Some people don’t mind the extra time it takes to brush their dog every day to reduce shedding or wipe slobber from walls.
  1. Remember that some dogs behave differently at shelters than in their own homes. Shelters can be loud, stressful places for dogs. They might act shy or aggressive in a shelter environment but be perfectly-behaved in a quiet, safe home.
  1. Observe your potential new family member. Watch how the dog behaves in his kennel and in the outside run. Yes, we just said that some dogs behave differently at home and in shelters. But you can still learn something about a dog’s energy levels, interest in play, and how he gets along with other dogs.
  1. Rely on the experts. Most animal shelters have adoption coordinators or other people trained to help you adopt the perfect dog. Use this free service!
  1. Adopt! Always adopt, never buy. Virtually all dogs purchased in pet stores or online come from puppy mills. For more information about the suffering caused by puppy mills, check out our Attorney at Paw resources page. And even if you do find a responsible, family breeder, you’re still supporting a larger, inhumane industry that treats dogs as products to be bought and sold. With rescue groups, animal shelters, and the entire power of the Internet, it’s easy to find and adopt the perfect dog.

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