So you’re looking for a dog and you’ve made the admirable decision to try and find one that needs you. You may be in an area with a huge collection of rescues and shelters, or you may be somewhere that only has one. You may be looking for a small dog, big dog or somewhere in between. Whatever your situation is, let’s go over some helpful information to make this new adventure a success.
If you are in an area that has very limited options, don’t get disheartened. Most rescues travel far and wide to make sure the right dog ends up with the right family. Instead of choosing a dog that you think may not fit your lifestyle, consider getting online and finding a rescue with a transportation program. Look for breed specific rescues and rescues in high surrender areas. Breed specific rescues often receive large donations and are able to fund transportation and rescues in high surrender areas receive grants for programs that locate the dogs across the country.
The first step in choosing a dog is to determine what you are looking for. Too many people choose based on how a dog looks. Do you travel a lot? Maybe you want a small dog that could ride in the airplane with you. Do you hike or run long distances? Maybe it would be better to choose a medium size that is very active. Do you live in a small apartment? Though it seems strange, often large dogs are the least active and don’t mind the sedentary lifestyle of apartment living. Do not choose a working dog breed because you like the way they look, but won’t have the time to give them the work they need to be healthy.
Keep in mind that their personality will be dulled in the shelter. If you pick the happiest, most active dog there, you will likely end up with a very active dog in a couple months. If you choose one that is more reserved, don’t worry, their personality will come out after settling in with you. Dog behaviorists and trainers often offer inexpensive services to accompany you to the shelter and help. Are you missing a dog sending aggressive signals, but too dulled to act at the shelter? Will this be a problem for you down the road when the dog has made itself comfortable in your home?
Don’t forget that many rescues and shelters will need a copy of your lease to prove you are allowed to have pets, photos of your fence to confirm it is high enough, referrals, driver’s license number, lots of paperwork and a donation to cover the dog’s expenses. It is always better to print the application at home so you know you will be prepared when you go to meet the dog. Don’t be afraid to ask about fostering, this can make it a much easier transition, though it does require more paperwork. Even if you do adopt, if for some reason you realize they are not a good fit, a good rescue will always want to be the first in line to take the dog back.
Good luck with your search! A little work now may save you a lot of pain in the long run.