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Last week we saw what to look for when going to a breeder to get your pure breed dog. But what should you look at when looking to adopt one?
In this week’s article I want to share with you some key things to bear in mind when visiting shelters in order to find the right dog for you and your family.


1. Research the breed

Do your homework, learn more about breeds and make a self assessment to decide if you can commit to give the dog the attention it needs.

Determine if your life can fit the exercise, grooming and size requirements of the breed. Beagles, for example are low maintenance when it comes to housing and grooming them but they require plenty of exercise and attention. On the opposite pole, the Old English Sheepdog enjoys long naps and slow walks, but the shaggy coat require daily grooming.

If you have small children in your family you should consider a children friendly dog; breeds like Boxers and Newfoundland behave like genuine babysitters and are safe around children despite their size.

Source: Google Images.  English Sheepdog.

Source: Google Images. 
English Sheepdog.


2. A puppy or an adult?

Your lifestyle and household background should be taken in account when making this decision. A puppy is time consuming, as it needs to be housetrained and socialized. But, on the bright side they are easy to integrate in the family. Older dogs are likely to have some basic training, but they also can have some bad traits and difficulties when getting socialized.

You must supervise the children interaction with the new dog, regardless of the dog’s age.

French Bulldog puppy in the beach.

French Bulldog puppy in the beach.


3. Dog’s background

When visiting the shelter, spend some time and talk with the volunteers, they can give you valuable information about the dog’s personality and preferences. Find out as much as you can about the past of the dog. Was it rescued, abandoned or abused? Depending on each circumstance, you will get an idea of how much work it will require to socialize it and earn its trust.

Velcro is a rescued dog from Stockton City of Animals. 

Velcro is a rescued dog from Stockton City of Animals. 


4. The dog’s apperance

The coat should be shiny, the skin shouldn’t have any scales or lumps. The eyes and nose should be clean of secretions and crusts. If you notice any changes, those might be signs of disease, so don’t forget to discuss the medical history with the volunteers or with your vet.

Adoptable young dog from Stockton City of Animals.

Adoptable young dog from Stockton City of Animals.


5. The sorroundings

Take a look at the place where the dog lives in and study the living conditions. Evaluate the behavior of the dog in group, how it acts and interacts with the others, and asses which is appropriate for you. In my case, I always look for the one who isn't barking when others are, and that is friendly with both humans and dogs.

If possible spend some time alone with the dog in a room or an outside paddock and observe the reactions alone.

Owner and boxer puppy interacting.

Owner and boxer puppy interacting.


As not all stories have happy endings, you should ask if it is possible to get a trial period in order to make a decision.

Some shelters, like the SPCA or Norcal Family Dog Rescue, allows you to take the dog home for a few days and see how you and your dog adapt to each other. Bear in mind that some dogs, when are in new environments, their behaviour can change for good or bad.


Bringing a new pet in your home and family is thrilling, but don’t forget that this is a long term commitment and whatever dog you choose, you need to be very honest with yourself.


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