20 Things to Consider Before Adopting a Dog from a Shelter
Make safety a priority for yourself, your family, and your new rescue dog with these simple tips.
He will be entirely different from your other dogs
Even if he’s the same breed and looks exactly the same, he will be completely different from your other dogs. He may have bad habits or weird tendencies that your old dogs never had. He may not like to have his belly rubbed or he may be afraid of loud noises. No two dogs are the same, regardless of breed, and you should not expect your new dog to be anything like your previous dogs.
You may not know what breed your pup is
Some rescue dogs have so many different breeds in their family trees, even the vet won’t be able to tell what she is. And while knowing the breed can be helpful in knowing what kind of behaviors to expect (herding dogs versus guarding dogs, for example) or how large your tiny pup will grow up to be (even 70-pound dogs start out as tiny 5-pound puppies), lots of mixed breeds are so mixed that breed-specific tendencies have been watered down. It is vital, however, that if you are looking for specific breeds, that you do your research. Some breeds are not appropriate for families with small children, or other small animals, or even other dogs. If you have your heart set on a particular breed, try reaching out to a rescue group that focuses on that breed (for example, adoptaboxerrescue.com).
She may have health problems
Rescue organizations do their best to have every dog in their care checked by a veterinarian, but those vet checks don’t include blood work or allergy tests or anything beyond a routine physical exam. Usually, if a severe health problem is discovered, the rescue organization will take the dog back, but if you keep your pet, treatment will likely be at your own expense. Regardless of how healthy your new pet may seem, a visit to your vet in the first week is a must to make sure your new furry friend, especially a puppy, is current on shots.
It may be up to you to have your dog spayed or neutered
Many rescue groups and animal shelters routinely spay or neuter all dogs in their care. Others don’t have the resources or, if you’re adopting a puppy, it may be too young to have the surgery. If that’s the case, ask your vet if there are low-cost spay and neuter programs in the area. Find out the 50 things your vet won’t tell you.
Microchip and register your new dog
According to the American Humane Association, an estimated 10 million pets are lost every year. To prevent your own new dog from getting lost and potentially ending up back in a shelter, make sure he is microchipped and that the microchip is registered with your current contact information. Plus, you can get that peace of mind without a huge price tag. Pet WebMD recommends getting your dog microchipped at the vet, which costs around $50 or less, and the Michelson Found Animals Foundation’s free microchip registry lets you register without a yearly fee or additional payments when you update contact info.
Make your new dog comfortable at home…
Even though you know your home will be much more comfortable than a shelter, your pup only knows it as an unfamiliar environment. She may have a hard time relaxing. To help her feel more at ease, give her a space to call her own, whether that’s a crate or an entire room, that’s close enough to the action of the household without being too overwhelming.
… And on-the-go
It’s also important to get your new dog acquainted with your car, to prepare him for rides to the vet and longer trips. Pet expert Dana Humphrey, aka The Pet Lady, suggests investing in a comfortable carrier like the Carry-Me Sleeper, a light, durable travel carrier that also folds out into a bed. “Allowing your new dog to explore the bed in your home before using it in the car is a great way to get him comfortable with his resting and traveling space,” Humphrey tells Reader’s Digest. “Having the ability to easily convert the carrier into a bed also gives you the opportunity to take your canine more places.”
Yes, you should give her treats
You don’t want your new pup’s diet to consist solely of treats, but they can help her learn important social skills with other humans and other dogs. “Proper socialization means creating ‘positive’ associations with new people, places, and things,” says Harris. “Carry treats when introducing your new dog to new experiences and situations. Never force interactions. If your dog resists or is fearful, it’s always best to disengage.”
Your new dog will love you
After the transition period is over and everyone is used to each other and rules and boundaries have been established, your rescue has the potential to be the most loyal and loving pet you’ve ever had. Need proof? Check out these 19 dog adoption before-and-after photos that will melt your heart.