What to Expect From Dog Rescue and Dog Shelters:
A good dog rescue organization attempts to pair you with the dog that best matches your situation. You will have to fill out paperwork that questions you about your home, your family, and other pets. Rescuers may ask about your plans for exercise, training, and veterinary visits. These types of questions may seem invasive to some, however they are necessary in order to find you the perfect pet.
Fees for adoptions from purebred shelters are usually higher than at public or private shelters. The charge will vary and usually covers costs incurred from veterinary care, feeding, and shelter. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t find a pet on your first trip out. Adopting a shelter dog – particularly from a purebred shelter – is not for anyone who is seeking instant results. However with plenty of patience, you will soon be happily paired with the dog that perfectly matches your family.
Visit the Dog Shelters & Dog Rescue
In order to successfully find the right dog for your family, you must take the time to observe the shelter. Do not take your children with you for this first visit. Their choice will be purely emotional, which may result in a dog that is poorly suited for the family. The health and temperament of the dog should be thoroughly assessed before becoming emotionally attached. This is easier said than done, but is of the utmost importance for your family’s health and happiness.
As you look around the dog shelter, remember that a good dog shelter isn't necessarily obvious by its decor. Sources of funding vary. No amount of money put into a building can make up for handlers who are not fully attentive to their charges. Similarly, a less-than-fancy building doesn't preclude the presence of fine people and animals. Basic cleanliness is affordable to all. Observe how the staff interacts with the animals. Do they talk and play with the dogs? Do they pet the dogs as they pass by? Do they call them by name? The attitude of the employees is a great indicator of the quality of the shelter. Next, talk to shelter staff. The way that staff treats you is an inkling of the way they've been treating the animals in their care. Are they interested in finding out more about you and in helping to select a good match, or are they officious and/or insensitive to your situation and desires? Their attitude will aid or hinder your efforts to find the right pet.
Focus on the Dogs
What kind of animal ends up in a dog shelters and dog rescues, anyway? Disobedient, hyperactive, vicious dogs that dig in your flowerbeds and scare away visitors? Well, maybe, but that’s not the norm. Okay, maybe these dogs have uncaring, cruel owners who starve and beat the dogs before dropping them off to be killed. Unfortunately, there may be a few of this class of individuals in the world. However in most cases, loving owners who believe they have no other options hesitantly drop off animals. People get sick, face unexpected financial hardships, move to a new house, have children, develop allergies, or any number of situations. Life happens, and people have to make adjustments. The dog, sadly, must go.
In some cases, first time pet owners are ill equipped for the demands and expenses involved with owning a pet. They might not properly research the breed and not be prepared for the time it takes to groom their new pet or exercise it. In some cases, simple obedience training would be all it takes for a puppy and its owner to get along.
Regardless of how they got there, these animals need your help and crave love and attention.
Steps to Take Before Adopting a Dog
i) Quick-Start. Walk purposefully through the shelter and take note in passing of any dog that favorably attracts your attention.
ii) Discovery. Now, visit each candidate. Use the "hand test" to determine the animal's friendliness or aggression. When you place a hand on the dog's enclosure, providing that you yourself behave in a quiet, considerate manner, a well-socialized dog should come forward and sniff your hand. He wants to know who you are. Let your hand move slowly back and forth a few inches. A social dog will follow it. He wants to know what you're doing. Dogs that ignore you, lunge at you or retreat from you may need more help than you can give.
Keep in mind that dogs in a shelter are under a tremendous amount of stress. Even if he is not vying for your attention, he may still be a good choice. At the same time, a dog that jumps and barks may be a good dog that is just overly active and possibly a handful. Each dog handles stress differently. He may merely be lonely or scared, particularly if it’s his first day at the shelter. Some documentation shows that Collie-type dogs are overwhelmed in shelters and their attitudes may improve when removed from this environment.
Speak to a shelter employee regarding the history of the dog(s) that caught your eye. If it was a stray, little may be known about its past. It could be a barker, a biter, a digger, a roamer, or a chewer. It may not be housetrained, may be fearful or aggressive or may have health problems. Owner-abandoned dogs could have a recorded history, however it may not be accurate. The previous owner may have felt guilty about leaving the dog. When the shelter staff questioned the owner on the dog’s history, he or she may not have told the truth for fear of being judged or in an attempt to help the dog get adopted. Owner abandoned dogs could have been abused or may not have been trained. Regardless of its history, you should rely on the staff’s knowledge of each dog’s personality.
iii) A Closer Look. Ask to interact one-on-one with each remaining candidate. First, remove the dog with you to as quiet a place as possible. Stay with the dog for a few minutes without paying attention to him. A friendly dog that knows his role will try to attract your attention by everything from an inviting gaze to attempts at cuddling. If any staff member is also present, the dog may display this social behavior towards her. A dog that ignores people under these circumstances may not make a good companion for you. Pet the dog. Does he move towards your touch (good) or away from it (not so good)?
Next, ask to feed the animal. How does the dog react if you pet him when his head's in a bowl of kibble? Acceptable behaviors are cessation of eating in preference to your company and continued eating with an easy, friendly manner. If he attempts to oust you in favor of his food by growling or stiffening, take the hint. Try giving the dog a special edible treat. From a safe distance, move your hand towards it and away a couple of times. Does the dog become aggressive? You may wish to disqualify him if he does.
Pet the dog all over. Tail-wagging and licking are signs of a friendly temperament. Even gentle mouthiness may be a precursor to a bite if the activity does not cease. Bring out a toy and engage the dog in play. Does he warm up to the game quickly and cool down within a few minutes of stopping? Excellent. Take the dog out for a walk. Some pulling may be expected and is not a huge problem to correct. Watch for aggressiveness towards other dogs or people while walking.
Final Inspection of The Dog
If you've found a dog that you judge is a good match for you, take a few final steps for certainty. When he's back in his kennel, observe his reaction to other visitors, especially children if you have any at home If you can’t choose between two dogs, it’s time to bring the kids for a visit. Don’t sway from your final choices. Explain that the other dogs are unavailable or not suitable. Prepare your family that you may not be able to bring the dog home right away due to additional vet work or required paperwork before the adoption is finalized. There may be a dog to which you're attracted that doesn't meet all of the above challenges. These are guidelines, not rules carved in stone. Ultimately, after you've gathered all possible information, you'll use your own best judgment. Recall that you'll spend a long time with your new pet. A good match will be a blessing both to you and to your rescued dog.