5 Questions to Ask When Adopting A Dog

5 Questions to Ask When Adopting A Dog

By Lauren Lee, WeRescue

So you are planning on adopting a canine companion? Adopting a dog is one of the most rewarding choices you can make. Studies have shown that people with dogs have less anxiety, reduced incidence of depression, get more exercise, and are overall healthier.

If this is your first time adopting a pet, it can be a little overwhelming.

It’s essential to ask the rescue organization, pet adoption center, or shelter a few questions to help find the right canine companion for you. To help make the process easier, we have put together a few questions that can give you a large amount of information:

1. Is The Organization You are Adopting From A Shelter or A Rescue?

Shelters are physical locations that house several animals on the premises. They often take in strays and owner surrenders (animals dropped off by people who can no longer keep them). Shelters can be private foundations or government (city/county) run.

Rescues are private organizations that often have no physical facility. They usually operate by using foster homes (people who volunteer to care for animals in their homes until a permanent home is found). Rescues are typically small organizations, but they can provide more individualized care for each animal through their foster network.

Many rescue organizations take animals from shelters who would otherwise be euthanized because the shelter can’t care for their needs. Sometimes the animal may have temporary health needs. For example, a dog might be recovering from surgery. Other rescues are breed-specific. For example, specific rescues take in Greyhounds who have retired from racing.

Why It Matters

Often rescue organizations can provide you with more detailed information about the dog you are considering. They do not fill up as quickly because they live in foster homes. Foster families also have the opportunity to get to know the animals in their care.

Shelters need to get animals out to make room for more incoming animals, so they frequently don’t have the same opportunity to get to know the animals.

2. How Did The Dog End Up At The Shelter or Rescue?

If a dog was surrendered by an owner that should not rule it out as a potentially adoptable pet. According to the Humane Society, moving and landlord issues are the top reasons people give up their pets.

However, it is worth digging into the dog’s history. Askwhythe owner surrendered the dog.

  • Does the dog have a bite history?
  • Has the dog ever attacked a person or another dog?
    Keep in mind that showing aggression toward the shelter staff is not uncommon for a frightened dog in a loud, stressful environment. This is different than having a history of attacking.
  • Was the dog temperament tested?
    Most rescues and shelters do a temperament test or behavior assessment on a dog when it comes to them. A temperament test gives basic information such as whether the dog is food aggressive, walks well on a leash or pulls, is fearful, guards toys, and has knowledge of basic commands. Ask to see the results of the temperament test.

3. Does the Dog Have Any Known Medical Conditions?

Medical conditions can significantly increase the amount of money you need to budget into caring for your new pooch. Therefore it is worth asking shelter staff about this upfront.

Find out if the dog has any illnesses that will require ongoing care or lifelong medication.

Most shelters and rescues vaccinate pets before adopting them out. Ask if the dog has received all the necessary vaccinations and vetting.

Take this opportunity to ask if the dog had any negative reactions to vaccinations.

4. Does the Shelter or Rescue Have a Spay/Neuter Program?

Many shelters and rescue organizations have spay and neuter programs. The cost of the procedure is reduced and is often included in the adoption fee. You want to know if the pet has been spayed or neutered.

You should also find out if the dog is microchipped, as that too is often part of the adoption fee.

Additionally, ask if the dog is current on heartworm and flea & tick preventative.

5. Ask to Spend Time with The Dog

Most shelters and rescues are happy to provide this. The more time you and your family can spend getting to know the dog before taking it home, the smoother the transition will be for all of you.

See if the staff will allow you to visit with the dog in a separate room or separate outdoor space, away from the stress and noise of other dogs. It’s also a good idea to take the dog on a walk on a leash.

The more time you spend with the dog, the better you'll get to know his personality.

The Takeaway

Remember, every dog is different, and every dog will respond differently to change, stress, and your personality.

Ask as many questions as you need to before taking your new fur friend home. You are committing to care for and love your new best friend for his or her entire lifetime. In return, you will have someone who loves you more than anything in the world and a wagging tail to greet you at the door every time you come home.