How to Choose the Right Shelter Dog

So you’ve decided to adopt a shelter dog. Good for you! Every year, almost 4 million dogs enter animal shelters nationwide. Most are great pets that have come in as strays or have been surrendered for reasons that have nothing to do with them. By adopting a shelter dog, you’re not only saving a life…you’re getting a lifetime of love.

Once you arrive to the shelter, though, how do you decide which is the right dog for you? It’s easy to fall for a pretty face but keep these tips in mind to make sure you pick the perfect pooch for you and your family:

Read All About Them

Before you head to the shelter, check out their website. Many will post pictures of their adoptable pets along with short bios describing their personalities and features. As you look through them, think about your own preferences and lifestyle. 

Do you have an active household or would you prefer a couch potato? Do you have space for a large dog or is your home more suited for a small one? You should be able to get more info from shelter staff once you arrive. Ask plenty of questions regarding age, health, personality and temperament.

Don’t Overlook the Barkers and the Hiders

Shelters can be very stressful places for animals, so it may be difficult to see their true personalities just by peering into their kennels. Some confident dogs may hide and some super friendly dogs may bark. 

Again, talk to the staff about the type of dog you’re looking for since they’ll know what each dog is really like. Ask to take any candidates out for a walk or to a quiet place to get to know them better.

Observe Behavior

Once away from the kennels, watch the dog carefully. Is his body relaxed? Is he jumping up on you? Does he seem engaged and interested in you, or does he shy away? How does he react to other dogs and people? 

Also ask yourself how you feel about the dog. You may have fallen in love with that face online, but if there’s no real connection or if anything about them makes you uncomfortable, it may be best to keep looking.

Make It a Family Decision

Whenever possible, it’s important to introduce your entire household to any dog you’re considering – and that includes your other dogs. Watch their interactions closely to determine if it’s a good fit. Bringing in another family member is always a little disruptive; but with everyone on board and happy about the new arrival, the transition will be a lot easier.