Adopting a dog is wonderful. There are plenty of reasons to do so, from freeing up more space in the shelter to landing you a new BFF.
But how do you choose the right dog? There’s so many different things you need to consider before you choose a dog. One important thing to remember is that it’s better to do research beforehand. Pounds are full of dogs that were taken there simply because an owner didn’t really think before they got their dog. The dog wasn’t happy and perhaps became an inconvenience, so suddenly they weren’t wanted anymore. By doing some basic research and putting some thought into their adoption, it could have been avoided. What follows are many of the considerations that people need to look into before they adopt.
1 - Breed
Unless you're going to a breed-specific rescue to adopt your next bud, you're probably going to want to ask about the dogs you're interested in. While adopting based on breed alone doesn't guarantee that your dog will be a certain way, there are plenty of sites that will tell you general breed personalities. Some dogs are more inclined to be caring, while others are better suited as guard dogs. Many breeds are high energy, which may not actually be what people were looking for. This can also be important if you're renting due to false perceptions of some breeds. Even some insurance companies may choose to use your dog's breed as an excuse to up rates.
2 - Temperament
Typically, you can gauge a dog's temperament based on the way they interact with you, other dogs, and even the way they hold their tails. While the wild and playful young pup who steals the show by pulling on your shoelace may seem wonderful, it may be a sign of aggression once the dog is older. Likewise, if a dog is acting skittish and afraid, it may indicate a long road to recovery. A scared and skittish dog may not be the best choice for you if you don't have experience rehabbing dogs, or if you have small children. You might also want to avoid any dog that other dogs seem afraid of.
3 - Housing Situation and Space
Where you live and the kind of housing and land you have can be very important when choosing your next doggo. Having a teacup Chihuahua on 10 acres will seem adorable until the owls come. And that Great Pyrenees is amazing - if only you weren't in a studio apartment. Of course, there's always a way to make a situation work, but if you don't have the proper space (or access to it) or proper safety shelter in place for your new pet, you'll want to reconsider things beforehand.
4 - Long-Term Care
Another thing to think about is the long-term care you'll have to provide. Many small breeds tend to develop nervous disorders, while larger breeds tend to develop hip problems. You'll have to provide specialized care and medications as your dog ages. On a happier note, you'll also have to take care of the puppy-ish nature of some breeds well past others. American terriers are known for acting like puppies up to 4 years, for example, and will need plenty of tough chewing toys to help spare your furniture, walls, and even the siding of your house.
5 - Family Situation
Choosing the best dog for you may not always work out if you're working with a big family, roommates, small children, or other pets. Just because a dog is perfect for you doesn't mean he'll like your children, roommates, or other pets. Trying to make it work can take a lot of time, energy, and even money. It's much easier to get a dog that will get along with everyone or take very little training to do so, especially if you aren't used to training dogs yourself or establishing pack hierarchy within your family.
6 - Work
What role is your new dog expected to take up in the family? If you're looking for a farm dog, guard dog, or service dog, you'll likely want to go for a puppy that you can train up. Many people who have farm or guard dogs tend to keep their dogs intact so that they have a reliable bloodline to watch over their land and family. This means you'll have much better luck looking outside of shelters. But if you're just wanting a new friend around the house, adopting from a shelter or rescue will be great. Dogs are naturally loyal creatures and will likely watch over you whether you get them when they're 10 weeks or 10 years old. (It's all the other stuff that comes with specialized training and working with unusual animals that make older dogs harder to train.)
7 - Patience Levels
You're going to need patience when adopting your new friend. It'll take time and training for you guys to find a happy harmony. However, this is especially true if you are adopting an elderly or disabled dog. If you're ever had an elderly or disabled dog, you know how wonderful it truly is. There are some problems you might not be used to facing when dealing with these special guys, but the number one virtue is to be patient. It's a learning process for both of you and you'll need to approach it with love and tenderness.
The best thing you can do is to go into the shelter with an open mind. You don't have to find your perfect pal on the first day. Go to various shelters. Ask the staff about the dog's history. Play with him or her. Just like when you fell in love or found your best human friend, you'll know when you find your perfect dog.