1. Do your research:
Know your breed traits in the dogs or types of dogs that you are considering adopting. Understand that a certain dog may look like a certain breed that does not mean that it is only that breed. Every breed has its own traits and characteristics. While breed traits are not set in stone they are a good starting point when choosing your dog.
2. Many dogs will behave differently in the shelter environment than they will at your home:
It generally takes a dog a few days to settle into their new home and for them to become comfortable in their new environment.
3. Miscommunication is one of the major reasons that dogs end up in shelters:
The dog that you may consider adopting may have come to the shelter for developing bad habits in its first home. Understand that most bad behaviors are not the dog’s fault but an issue of poor communication between dog and human.
4. Size matters!
Contrary to popular belief, small dogs are not always the best apartment dogs. Smaller dogs generally have a higher energy level and need more space or attention to burn off that energy. Many of the giant breeds are better fit for apartment living due to less activity required to burn energy.
5. Consider your financial commitment:
The annual cost of raising a dog can vary from $500-$3000 or more. Larger dogs require more food. Dogs with longer coats require more grooming. Certain breeds are more prone to medical issues. Costs that you should plan for are your adoption fee, veterinary care, food, grooming, supplies, pet sitting or boarding, and training. All of these items can add up quickly and is another reason that your potential dog may have been surrendered to the shelter.
6. What is your lifestyle?
Are you an active, outdoorsy type or a quiet night at home type? How many hours a day are you home? These are all things to consider when you are looking at different breed mixes. A long haired pretty dog may enjoy sitting in your camper but may not enjoy the 3 mile hike you plan to take that afternoon. You should understand the physical limitations of the different dogs that you are considering.
7. Do you have children?
How many and what are their ages? There are many breeds that are wonderful with children but there are also many breeds who are less tolerant of our kids. Consulting with a professional trainer or reputable breeder will help provide you with correct information on the breed types that you are considering.
8. Do you have other pets?
Some dogs have high prey drives and some are naturally dog aggressive. You must consider these things when planning to bring a new dog into your home and have harmonious living. *ALWAYS consult a professional trainer when dealing with any type of aggression issues.
9. Training, training, training:
The need for training cannot be overstated. Dogs and humans communicate differently. Dogs can easily fit into our lives when boundaries and guidelines are well established. There are many training options out there: books, online tools, commercial pet store classes, professional trainers, etc. No matter which option you choose, choose one.
10. This is a lifetime commitment:
A commitment for the lifetime of your dog. Small dogs generally live longer than larger breeds. Know that you are possibly making a 10-15 year commitment depending on breed types. Dogs are not expendable. You should consider the next 10-15 years of your life. If you do not currently have children but plan to in that timeframe consider the breed type you are adopting. If you plan on moving can you take your dog with you? You cannot know the answer to all of these types of questions that will come up in your future but you should put some thought into what would happen with your dog if…