ADOPT A SHELTER DOG MONTH: 8 Questions You Should Ask Before Adopting A Dog

If you’ve decided to adopt a shelter or rescue dog, congratulations! You’ve made a decision that will save a life.  Choosing a dog is a commitment that will last the rest of the dog's lifetime.  Choose unwisely and you and your new furry BFF might not make a successful love connection.  As you head to the shelter, ask these 8 questions to ensure the dog you adopt is the right one for you! 

Most dogs are full grown at around 18 months old.  You'll want to know if the dog is already full grown, and if not ask about how big he's expected to get.  Most of the time a shelter or rescue can only estimate how big a dog will get when full grown.  Find our if there are any restrictions on the size or breed of dogs allowed where you live.  
Think about what size dog is right for you.
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 such as a Border Collie might be the right companion for you.  If you prefer a mellow dog that doesn't need much exercise, a Siberian Husky would not be a good fit!    

What's your tolerance for shedding? Just because a dog has a smooth coat or very thin hair that does not mean she won’t shed.  If you want a dog that sheds very little or not at all, ask if the shelter has any non-shedding breeds or dogs that are mixed with a non shedding breed such as the Poodle, Maltese, or Bichon Frise.   

Is shedding a concern?  Dogs like Phoebe don't shed one bit!  We think she's a Havanese mix.
Sometimes shelter staff and volunteers won’t know for certain, but at many shelters and rescues they can tell if a dog likes people and other dogs.  They do this by behavior assessing the dog and interacting with him on a daily basis.  If they have play groups for the dogs they’ll be able to tell if he’s dog friendly or if he displays aggression towards other dogs. 

Sometimes people who already have a dog worry about bringing another dog into the home.  Ask the shelter to arrange a meet and greet with your current dog and the one you want to adopt to see if they get along.  If they can’t accommodate, make sure you can bring the dog back if he doesn't get along with your current dog(s).

Ask what’s included in the adoption fee and what additional costs you might incur.  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.

Icy and Phoebe are both very dog friendly, so they became BFF's very soon after we brought Phoebe home to join our family!
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 handle them.

You can 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.

Asking these 8 questions will help you make the best decision about which dog is right for you, and you’ll know what to expect as you bring your new best friend home with you!

What other questions do you think are important to ask when adopting a new pet?   Please leave us a comment!


Rascal and Rocco said...

Great questions! Thank you for joining in the Pet Parade and happy Friday! ~Rascal and Rocco

Unknown said...

Great post! The only downside is that dogs tend to act differently inside a kennel at a shelter, so it can be hard for shelter employees to know how they'll act at home. My Riley, for example, was said to be dog-friendly when we adopted him...and he is definitely NOT friendly toward other dogs. Then again, he was only there for 8 days before we snatched him up, so chances are the employees would've figured it out eventually :D Sharing! <3

M. K. Clinton said...

Those are all important questions. If people ask before adopting, it will save a lot of broken hearted pets that are returned.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks for hosting the Pet Parade, I love it! Glad you like the questions, thanks for stopping by!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

That's very true, dogs can act differently once they get out of the shelter environment. Staff can usually see if a dog is aggressive pretty quickly, but there's no guarantee. Even if they are aggressive, it's often just extreme fear aggression brought on by being in such a scary environment. Thanks so much for your feedback & for stopping by Chelsea!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

You are SO right! Also, once a pet is returned, it is usually disclosed on their kennel card and people think the pet was returned because something is wrong with them. It is so important to do some research before adopting. Thanks for your comments & for stopping by!

Unknown said...

Great info and tips.
If more people researched a breed before they jumped into adoption, it would save a ton of pets from ending up in the shelters in the first place
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Absolutely! It's heartbreaking when a dog gets returned to a shelter because someone didn't do their homework. Recently an Australian Cattledog was returned to the shelter because she was being destructive in the apartment. Did the owners exercise her - NO! The good news;I adopted her out today to an awesome active couple who will take her hiking every day! Thanks for stopping by today, Jenna!

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