Guest Post by John Woods
As someone who has volunteered at national dog shelters, dog adoption has always been something close to my heart.
More recently, as I’ve started actively trying to educate people on training and caring for dogs, my passion has moved into adopting dogs.
In this article, I want to share with you what I believe are 4 key lessons on dog adoption which must be learned before adopting a dog.
1. Be Informed and Knowledgeable
The first snippet of wisdom I can share with you is to be your own source of information and to be prepared for adopting a dog. There are many guides on dog adoption, however the first step is to gather information.
Shelters and dog rescues have their own vetting process on matching dog-parents and dogs. But even before visiting, you should understand why you want to adopt a dog and the type of dog you want to adopt.
I’m not suggesting you go “designer dog shopping,” however, I am suggesting you understand the different temperaments in dogs, dog breed classifications and the general differences in activity levels of small, medium and large dogs. You should aim to adopt a dog with a similar lifestyle, temperament and needs to your own so you can loving keep the dog for the entirety of their lives.
2. An Existing Dog in Your Household
The majority of people who adopt dogs, have either already owned/adopted a dog, or currently are dog-parents.
This advice is especially important to those who own dogs; it’s essential that you are consistent and fair with both dogs when you adopt a dog. Being a good dog-parent is knowing when both dogs are compatible with each other, being strong enough to not adopt a dog (even if it’s cute) and after adoption, training the adopted dog.
Training a mature dog can take different skills, patience and ability, than training a young pup who is ready to learn. Often dog-parents must relearn some old skills and be consistent to ensure the new family addition is as well trained as the existing dog.
3. Are You Responsible?
Most adults are used to being responsible for something or someone. And you must be just that when adopting a dog.
Responsible in the sense that:
- You’re ready and able to pay the vet bills
- You understand about basic dog nutrition and feeding your dog
- Understanding dog training methods and how to train a dog.
Being responsible also means loving your dog and being able to commit a significant amount of time, especially during the first few weeks of adoption, to comfort, train and love your new family member.
4. Supporting Adoption
When the time comes and you feel you are ready to adopt, and have considered the information above, you must be sensible in your choice of shelter or rescue center from which you choose to adopt.
Here is a quick acid test you can use to ensure you are dealing with a reputable shelter who cares for dogs and not just profit margins:
- Reasonable Adoption Fees – Unless you are adopting a puppy from a shelter, you shouldn’t expect to pay above $200 for a dog.
- Rigorous Process – The shelter should undertake a dog-parent screening process. Sometimes a home visit will be required before the adoption is approved.
- Health Checks – The shelter typically will have done a medical exam, spayed/neutered the dog, and will have the dog microchipped as part of the adoption fee.
I recommend adopting a dog from a shelter who follows these three rules.
I hope that these four lessons will help you and support you on your journey to adopting a dog who is both loved and compatible with your family!
John Woods is a dog fanatic and has a blog over at all things dogs. He’s a dog trainer who is on a mission to educate 40 million dog owners and lovers on how to care for dogs. Photo provided by the author.