So you decided, that you would like to adopt a dog, but there is a lot of things to consider and since the shelters in most countries are absolutely full, there are almost endless options when it comes to adopting, so it might be little bit challenging to make the right decision and to choose the right dog for you and your family.
You should be very very picky when choosing the dog, because choosing the right dog will be the best decision, but choosing wrong dog, a dog that does not fit your lifestyle will be absolutely devastating and it is one of the main reasons why dogs are putting back to the shelter.
Because of that i would suggest you to make a list of pros and cons of what you would like from the dog. Of course, you can include appearance traits on the list such as curled tail or pricked ears, but these things should be at the end of your list.
The most important factor to consider is definitely your lifestyle. You should especially consider following factors: size of your apartment or house, your work and the time you spend working, your previous experiences with dogs, how active you are, do you have kids, do you have other pets, what is your financial situation, do you have dog allergies? These are the main things you should consider when thinking about adopting, but also buying a new dog. Ask yourself these questions and from your answers create a list of desirable traits of your future dog.
To give you an example, if i would consider a new dog, my desirable characteristics would be an active dog that is good with little kids, that is calm indoors but always ready for outdoor walk or hike, that is small to medium sized, i would prefer adult dog around the age of 3 or 4, that is friendly with strangers and i would prefer a dog that is loyal to the owner and stay close to me on walks and last but not least i would prefer a dog that requires minimum grooming.
This is a list of traits i would write down and take it with me to the shelter, and i would strongly advice you to do the same thing!
You should also research some breeds, you can do it on the AKC or FCI website, but you can also watch videos about almost all the known dog breeds on our Rocadog channel. This way, you can find many information about various dog breeds and what to expect from a dog. It can be little bit time-consuming to study so many information about so many dog breeds, but it is well worth it since you can make much better decision afterwards.
Another important factor to consider is the age of the dog. You can shape puppies by yourself by proper training and socialization, but puppies are extremely time consuming and expensive. There are plenty of already trained adult dogs in shelters. Of course, not all dogs in shelter are trained, some do not have any training and you should ask about it directly in the shelter. But getting a already trained dog from shelter will make it so much easier from the day one.
Bring the list you created with yourself to the shelter and ask a lot of question to the shelter personnel. Do not rush choosing the dog. Ask questions about the dogs past and where was this dog kept, about its behaviour and especially about behavioural issues, about its medical needs and about its exercise needs. Ask them if the dog has history of escaping, if it is okay with strangers, if he has history of barking, biting or growling if the dog has history with any other problematic behaviour. By now, you should have a very specific picture of your future dog and it might take some time before finding such a specific dog, but again, do not rush it! Take your time. Visit as many shelters as needed and talk to as many people as needed. There is nothing to hurry about, the most important thing is to get yourself the best possible doggy companion.
Also, do not judge the dogs in shelter by first impressions. If the shelter workers will recommend you some dog, but you will not like its behaviour at first, try to spend some time with it. Many dog in shelter environment will be shy, nervous and scary, but once you take them on few walks, they will start acting completely different. This is another extremely important factor. Try to spend as much time as possible with the dog before adopting it.
But if it does not feel right, just wait, there will be more dogs. Patience is a key when getting a dreamed dog, and it will also be a key when training a dog. Best dog owner is very often the most patient one. And being picky when choosing the dog from shelter is the best way how to reduce returns back to the shelter. So do not feel bad if it seems like you’re walking away from dozens of dogs.
So now you know everything you should consider when choosing a dog. But what to do, when you actually adopt your dreamy dog. First of all, you should set up your home to be dog friendly. You will definitely need a comfy pet bed, a lots of toys, food, bowl, collar and leash and many many treats. You should also create a new set of rules for your household and your dog. Again, this is very very individual and you should ask yourself following questions:
Where will the dog sleep? Is the dog allowed on the furniture? What will the dog do while you’re at work (can he be inside or will he be roaming outside)? What do you want your dog to do while you’re eating? When will you feed and walk the dog?
Just set up rules and expectations for the dog and stick to them. The dog will quickly adapt to your rules if you will provide him with happy life.
It is also important to hide anything potentionally dangerous for the dog. Think about stuff like electrical wires, cleaners and chemicals that aren’t locked away, children’s toys that could be swallowed, and plants that might be nibbled. Also, it is wise to keep humans food out of reach, because most dogs would eventually eat it if possible.
When you bring your dog home, take it easy and give the dog some time to look around. It is advised to be as calm and relaxed as possible in the first few days, since your new dog is still exploring its new home and adapting to new rules. . Let your new pup sniff around your house, but don’t let them do anything and everything they want. Stick to your rules! You must be relaxed and calm around the dog, but the dog must respect you as well! Remember, that the first few days (or even weeks) might not be smooth sailing. Every dog reacts to being in a shelter differently. It typically takes about a month for a dog to fully relax and start to adapt to new routines. Most dogs will adapt to new environment in matter of few weeks. After that, you can really start creating a strong bond with you and your new dog. You will have to create routine of feeding, walking and training, but that would be a topic for another day.