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Adopting a Shelter Dog: Questions You Should Ask

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Consider visiting your local animal shelter the next time you’re ready to increase your canine family. At shelters you’ll find all types of dogs, from purebreds to mixed breeds, puppies and young dogs to adults and seniors. They’re all just waiting for a home.

Some potential dog owners are cautious about shelter dogs because of the possibility that some have been abused, developed survival instincts living on the streets, or had a history of biting which might have landed them in the shelter in the first place. Yes, some may have had previous problems, but many did not. Some were from unwanted litters, some were abandoned out of frustration or boredom with dog ownership. Some just need a little training and love to mold them into the perfect family companion.

When visiting your local animal shelter, talk with the staff to learn more about the care they’ve given the dogs:

-Does the animal shelter place emphasis on socialization?

-How long they are allowed to enjoy free time and how much human contact is received?

– Do dogs have the chance to interact with other dogs at the shelter?

– What can they tell you about individual animals? Do they know if they’re good around children, other dogs, or cats?

– Are there any services that are offered after you bring home a new dog? Do they provide pamphlets or brochures that explain the best way to handle an adopted dog or puppy? Are there tips in the form of a newsletter or website information that can help your adopted dog adjust easier? What about training, can they refer you to a qualified dog trainer that specializes in shelter animals?

When you’ve narrowed down your selection to a dog or two, it’s time for some more questions before the final decision:
– What family history do they have on this dog? (If a dog was from an unwanted litter, you’ll often be able to learn what type of dog his mother was and possibly even the father’s history.)

– What kind of medical treatment has the dog received?

– Do they know if this dog plays well with other dogs? What types of dogs has this one played with successfully in the past? Do they believe this dog is dominant or submissive?

– What vaccinations has this dog received? What other vaccinations are coming up?

– Has this dog been tested for heartworms? Is he on heartworm preventative and when is the next dosage due?

– What type of food has this dog been eating at the shelter? It’s helpful to purchase the same type of food for at least the next few days; if it’s not what you normally serve, start weaning the dog off it by mixing it with your normal dog food little by little to avoid digestive upset.

– If you are considering a special needs dog who has been injured in the past, you’ll need to learn more about his injury. What type of injury was it? What type of medication and treatment has the dog received? Ask about the cost of future treatment and medical needs that will arise.

– Do they know any background of this dog? Any bite history? Was this dog an owner surrender or was he picked up on the streets or found somewhere?

– When was this dog spayed or neutered? Does he/she need any followup care from the operation?

– If a female, do they know if she had previously had puppies?

– Is he microchipped?

The more you can find out about your new family member the better. Not only will it help you with the difficult selection process but it will be helpful when taking your new dog to your vet for the first time.

Paris Permenter
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