It’s the American Humane Association’s Adopt-A-Dog Month–and as a former “pound hound” myself, I highly encourage any family looking to add a dog to their family to start their search at a local rescue organization or shelter! Even if you have a specific breed or age in mind, there are many breed-specific rescues with lots of great dogs waiting for homes that you can check with first. And did you know? According to the HSUS, 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred. (Although, you may be interested to find out that a survey of Bark Busters trainers recently revealed that mixed breeds/mutts and senior dogs are actually easier to train overall than purebred dogs or puppies—see our post from August for more details!)
Before you go out and fall in love with that puppy in the window, however, it’s important to do your research to decide which dog is the right dog for you and/or your family. Sit down together and work through the following questions:
- Do we have time to train and housebreak a puppy, or would an older dog be a better fit for our schedules?
- Do we have the house and yard space to accommodate a larger breed dog? Will we be able to give a high-energy dog the exercise he needs?
- What temperament of dog is best suited to our family? Do we have a quiet home where a more timid, easily trainable dog could thrive? Do we have the time and willingness to invest in a training program for a more dominant, adventuresome dog?
- What kind of dog will be best for our children, and how will we include them in the responsibilities of caring for a dog? (See our guest post from Adopt-A-Pet.com on “What dog adoption can teach your kids.“)
Next, check out Bark Busters Home Dog Training‘s article on “Selecting the Right Dog for You and Your Family“—they have great tips on understanding the importance of temperament, how to identify temperament in a litter of puppies, and a list of breeds that may be more suitable to a variety of human personalities.
Once you’ve determined what size, temperament, energy level, age and maybe even breed you’re looking for, you can use a Web service like Adopt-A-Pet.com to search for shelter dogs with your specific criteria within a specified radius of your home. You can also search for breed-specific rescues in your area.
Make sure you talk with shelter staff or volunteer dog walkers who have spent time with any dog you are thinking of adopting—they will be able to tell you more about that dog’s personality and temperament and help you decide if he would be a good fit for you.
Going through this process may seem tedious, and less fun than simply going to a shelter and picking out the cutest puppy you see. But it will help ensure that the dog you bring home stays in your home and that you have the best relationship possible with your new furry friend.