Acquiring a dog, whether through a breeder or a dog adoption organisation is a big commitment. We’ve put together a guide with some of the most useful and frequently asked questions about dog adoption that should help you make a rounded decision on whether adopting a dog is right for you.
What Level of Commitment Will I be Taking on if I Adopt a Dog?
Adopting a dog means making a promise. When you sign a contract at an animal shelter, you vow not just to pay her adoption fee or get her spayed or vaccinated, but also to be her friend and guardian for as long as she’s around.
That means taking her out for walks even when the weather is harsh, teaching her obedience even when it seems like she’s not learning, and giving her tummy rubs even when you’re mad at her for chewing up your favourite slippers.
Adopting a dog means making arrangements for her when you can’t be around to look after her, and taking her with you if you move. It means treating her with respect, teaching her how to live amongst your family and the rest of society.
That’s a big promise. In return you’ll get a wagging tail to meet you at the door when you come home, a tireless tennis-ball-fetching partner and the unending joy that is only possible to experience from sharing your life with a dog. It’s a fabulous deal as long as you’re able to uphold your end of it.
So before you start looking for a dog, examine very closely your reasons for wanting one.
Reasons for wanting a dog
- Are you looking for a friend who will depend on you for all her needs for perhaps the next fifteen years?
- Are you ready to give a dog all the care and love she needs, and to put aside your own needs now and then for her sake?
- Are you thinking as much of her happiness and need for companionship as of your own?
- If yes, then here’s some more information to help you on your way.
What Essential Preparations Should I Make When Thinking of Adopting a Dog?
1. A pen and paper. You’re going to meet a lot of dogs, and writing down a little bit about the ones who interest you will help keep you organised when discussing the dogs you’ve seen later. You’ll want to be able to consider your choices when you’re at home, away from the shelter; keeping records of the dogs you’ve seen will allow you to do that.
2. Comfortable clothes. Remember, it’s a dog shelter, not a cocktail party, so dress appropriately! You’re going to be getting down and at least a little bit dirty with dogs who may not have had a bath recently and who may not know that they shouldn’t jump or climb on you; accordingly, don’t wear anything that you couldn’t bear to see paw-printed or drooled on. Jeans are a good bet; they’ll also keep your legs protected in case you get scratched or nipped at by a pup. Wear comfortable shoes, too, so that you can walk around with ease.
3. Bring Your Family. Bring along as many members of your household as possible. Singles need not worry, but if you have family members or roommates who will be living with a new dog, they should also be involved in her selection.
That might seem ridiculously obvious, but we’ve known many, many people who have adopted dogs and then returned them because “the kids didn’t get along with her” or “she didn’t like my in-laws.”
You shouldn’t necessarily let children, especially young ones, influence your decision too much, but you at least need to be sure that they’ll get along with and not be afraid of the dog you choose.
By the way, don’t bring any other dogs or pets along with you unless you have permission from the shelter to do so. Most shelters don’t allow outside dogs on their premises because of the risk of dog fights or disease transmission.
4. Time. Well, it’s not exactly something you can pack into your car, but it’s certainly important. Leave yourself enough time – probably at least a couple hours – so that you won’t feel hurried as you talk to shelter employees and get to know a handful of dogs. If finding a few free hours to go shelter-visiting feels like a strain on your schedule, then you may want to ask yourself whether you’re really going to have enough time for a dog.