Adopting a dog is an exciting process, but it also requires that you commit. If you want to give this dog a forever home, you need to be sure that he or she is right for you. Whether you are adopting from a rescue group, or an owner, there are three major questions to ask when adopting a dog.
1. Can This Dog Get Along with Other Dogs, Cats and Kids?
Rescues should have information about how your prospective pet responds to other dogs, other animals and children. Unfortunately, dogs who have been neglected often do not get along with certain animals or people. For example, dogs that were neglected by female owners may never respond well to a woman again, even if that woman will take perfect care of them. Be sure that you can accommodate your dog’s needs before you bring them home.
2. Does This Dog Have Injuries or Illnesses? Are They Likely To?
Rescues do a complete physical examination of the dog when they first bring them in. They should have begun treatment for any issues the dog has and should be able to give you detailed information about it. If your dog does have a health problem, it’s important to work out the costs of treatment and be sure that you can afford it.
While puppies should be free of injuries and illnesses, your breeder should still have information about what kinds of conditions are more common in the breed and what needs to be done to prevent your dog from developing them. You should make sure that both parents were screened for these common conditions, when possible, to be sure your puppy has reduced risk. For example, hip dysplasia is common in German Shepherds, and a quick x-ray can reveal whether the parents have it.
3. Does This Dog Have Behavioral Issues? Can They Be Fixed?
If you are rescuing a dog, you will likely have to deal with some level of behavioral issue. It’s important to know what you’ll be dealing with ahead of time and what kind of training will help. If you’re adopting a dog that has never been housebroken, you can typically train them on your own. Dogs that have aggression issues, on the other hand, may need a professional trainer’s support to overcome it.
What about if you’re adopting from a breeder? Dogs do have instinctive behaviors that vary by breed. Hopefully, yours is a good match for you. If you’re still not quite sure, your breeder should have information about what you can expect. For example, sighthounds may never have a strong enough recall (the “come” command) to be allowed off-leash. Their instincts tell them to chase what they see.
If it turns out that the dog you were considering isn’t quite right for you, don’t feel guilty. It’s better to discover that now than to bring the dog back in a few weeks after a disaster. Plenty of dogs need homes, so take your time and make the right choice for your home.