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Deciding you are ready to add a furry companion to your life is a very exciting time, but can also be overwhelming given all of the different options and the volume of currently homeless animals waiting for the perfect person to come scoop them up. Here are some tools to help guide the process, and to help ensure that you are making the best choices for what fits your needs, lifestyle, and will make for a lasting relationship!
Decide what “type of dog” fits your lifestyle. Not necessarily breed, but size, age and activity level. Your current work schedule, living quarters, time spent being active, all play a role in the right type of dog for you. Once you have an idea of what you may be looking for, perhaps spend some time browsing the internet in search of local shelters and/or rescues near you.
Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet are two good search engines for adoptable dogs, as you can filter your search to age, breed or breed type, and distance from you. It may also help you narrow down your search, or you may fall in love with a particular photo. Nothing beats meeting a potential dog in person, so once you find a few online you may like, I would suggest starting by either stopping by the shelter if it’s close to you, or contacting the shelter via phone/email to inquire if the dog is still available for adoption. Often times you may be able to ask some questions over the phone that will quickly rule out if a particular dog would do well in your life. Due to the nature of daily adoptions, there could be a dog listed that has been recently adopted.
Another option would be planning a day or time to hit your local shelters and browse. Doing so in person allows for you to get a feel for the dog’s personality, see who you may be naturally drawn to, as well ask shelter staff questions and use them to help you find the perfect dog for you. These questions are very important and some great suggestions are as follows;
Ask about a dog’s history. Depending on how a dog came to be in a shelter, the staff may be able to provide you with information and insight pertinent to that particular dogs household needs, future care needs, additional training needs, and/or other special requirements. This is vital to understanding a dog, and what they need from you as they enter a new home environment.
Ask about any medical or behavioral assessments that have been performed on a dog. Shelters and rescues are becoming better and better at learning dog’s specific medical and behavioral needs which could be vital info for a potential adopter to ensure that you are well aware of any ongoing needs of a dog you may bring into your home. Many times shelter staff also is very aware if a particular dog may not do well with children, cats, or other dogs in the home. Knowing these things ahead of time will greatly reduce the chances of an unsuccessful adoption.
Ask about the adoption process. Every shelter and rescue has a unique set of requirements and adoption timeline. Some shelter offer “slumber parties” as a way to bring a dog into your home, and see the potential of that particular dog in your everyday environment. Some also may require a meet and greet with any existing pets, or even and children currently in the home.
Once you have found the perfect dog for you, and the adoption process is complete, only part of the work is done. Keep in mind that bringing a dog home is a huge adjustment; not just for you, but for the dog as well. Decompression time is a must, and you may experience shyness, fear, and other behavioral issues as the dog learns to trust you, and understands this new environment he has been put in. Don’t be too quick to think it’s not working out, or that the dog isn’t the right fit for you, in time you will see the dog become comfortable and his true personality will begin to shine. Shelters and rescues offer all kinds of resources and continued training/advice, so don’t be ashamed or hesitant to reach out with additional questions or concerns. They work on behalf of the dog’s best interest, and they want to see you succeed!
Sarah Ingram is from Dayton, Ohio. She is the mom of 6 dogs, from a small Chihuahua/Pug mix, to a large Chocolate Lab! As a passionate animal advocate, she is a dedicated animal shelter volunteer, and enjoys visiting shelters across the State of Ohio and learning about their processes, procedures, needs, and ways to help. She is a volunteer with Rescue Me Ohio, as part of their education & advocacy team, sharing knowledge on topics in animal welfare, responsible pet ownership, spay & neuter, and many other important topics. She enjoys networking adoptable dogs from all over Ohio, which is one of the primary functions of her social media pages, Sarah’s Space for K9 Rescue & Awareness on Facebook & @SarahsSpace4K9s on Instagram, where she also shares helpful info for dog owners & important animal welfare issues.