Choosing to adopt a puppy from a shelter saves a life and makes a perfect addition to any family! Pet adoption is a big decision, and it's essential to find out everything you can about your furry friend before adopting. You want to make sure the puppy is the right fit and will acclimate to the new environment. You also want to know it's not going to grow up to eat your toddler. More on that later on...
Here are some pre-adoption questions to ask at the shelter when you're considering a new puppy.
Why is this puppy in a shelter to begin with?
Puppies are usually in shelters for three reasons:
- Owner Surrender
If the puppy is a rescue, find out if an animal cruelty charge was filed against the owner or if there's another reason for the dog to be in a shelter. Some rescues get veterinary care for rescue dogs, then place them with a shelter for adoption.
If the puppy is a stray, find out where the dog was found and in what condition. Additional medical treatment may be required.
If the puppy was an owner surrender, find out why the puppy was relinquished to the shelter. Many owners claim they submit their dogs due to behavior problems. That said, the issue in that case could be that the puppy just needs more training.
Has veterinary care been provided?
If medical care has been provided, obtain the records if at all possible. When you take your puppy for regular exams, your veterinarian will need existing medical records to provide the most effective treatment for your pet. You should find out if the puppy needs additional or ongoing medical treatment.
Also ask if there are any dietary restrictions due to age or food allergies. If the puppy is young, the shelter may have instructions for feeding and recommend a food formulated for puppies.
Is the puppy trained and housebroken?
Here's what to ask when adopting a puppy regarding training. If the puppy is a stray or a rescue, housebreaking may be an issue. Experienced dog owners can housebreak a puppy easily. However, if you're a first-time dog owner, the shelter staff will recommend taking the puppy outside on a leash several times a day. Praising or rewarding with a treat as an incentive can help to avoid accidents in the house. It’s really important to start puppy training really soon - puppies, who are 7 or 8 weeks old can begin very simple training.
Questions to ask when getting a puppy involve socialization and behavior. Here's what to find out:
- Does the puppy interact well with other pets and children?
- Can he walk on a leash?
- Is the puppy food aggressive?
- Is the puppy crate trained?
- Does the puppy have any fears or phobias like separation anxiety or fear of thunderstorms?
- Is further training required?
Once your new pet has had the first round of vaccines, it's a good idea to introduce your new family member to a couple of new people each week. You may enroll in a training class to get your pup accustomed to being around other dogs. If there are any behavior issues, a few sessions with a trainer can overcome any problems the puppy may have.
What's the puppy's energy level?
The puppy you adopt should be compatible with your lifestyle. All dogs don't have the same energy level or require the same amount of exercise. Find out more about the puppy you want to adopt, including:
- How much exercise is needed?
- What's the puppy's typical energy level?
- How often will you need to go on walks and for how long?
- Does the puppy settle down and rest after playtime
- What are the pup's favorite activities?
- Would he be a good outdoor dog?
Depending on the breed, some dogs love playing fetch or frisbee, swimming, running, and walking. Many dogs are always ready for an outdoor adventure and love hiking in the woods, the mountains, or playing on the beach. There are other dogs that are content with brief periods of playtime then relaxing with their owner.
Is it a pit mix?
It's a sad fact, but up to 90% of adoptable puppers are some kind of pit mix with behavioral problems, and sometimes unscrupulous shelter employees try to downplay or hide the pit part of their heritage. Here is a collage of images of dog breeds crossed with pits so you can learn the warning signs. Study them all until you recognize the pit bull facial features. These are not the breeds they're being presented as -- and are extremely dangerous both to children and other dogs.
What are the adoption fees and timeline like?
Puppy adoption fees can vary depending on the area in which you live. Some municipal shelters charge a higher fee for dogs that aren't spayed/neutered than altered dogs. The adopter may be required to sign an adoption contract including a clause stating that the pet will be sterilized within a specific time. Shelters may allow up to 30 days for the adopter to have the pet spayed or neutered.
Some shelters allow adopters to take their new puppy home the same day they fill out an application. However, rescue groups, humane societies, or fosters may require a longer process. Some shelters will ask adopters to bring their family members and other pets to the shelter for a meet and greet. The requirement is to make sure the puppy is going to the safest and best environment. Some shelters include the first vaccines and the cost of a spay/neuter or a voucher for the procedure in their adoption fee.