With the overpopulation in shelters around the country and the high numbers of euthanization (4.5 million pets a year), adopting a dog is one of the best things you can do to help this problem.
Important steps to take and questions to ask yourself before taking on the responsibility of dog ownership.
• Are you honestly ready for the responsibility of a dog? The environment you bring a dog into is very important. Make sure everyone is on board with bringing a dog into the home and is aware of the responsibility. Determine where your state of mind is. Do you know what if feels like to be calm and assertive? Why do you want to adopt a dog? Be honest! Your own behavior will be a direct reflection in the dog’s behavior and good dog owners should be able to provide a structured life that has rules, boundaries, and limitations.
• Figure out how well you can schedule your dog into your life. Good dog ownership requires a commitment of time to when it comes to fulfilling your new dog and keeping him balanced. What is your work life like? How punctual are you? If you are not reliable or a good manager of time or if you make excuses for being late, you might be one of those people who makes excuses for why they didn’t go on a dog walk that day or didn’t make time to go to the park.
• Choose a dog with an energy level equal to or lower than your own. Never adopt a dog with higher energy. Consider their age and your own. Make sure you evaluate the dog when he’s been out of the cage for some time and has had a walk. Take him out and see how he behaves. A dog in a cage is not going to give you the reality of their natural energy. Don’t generalize based on a dog’s breed, but do consider the characteristics of that breed. Just because you loved German Shepherds as a child doesn’t mean you are at a stage or place in your life to properly care for, stimulate, and exercise such a smart and powerful dog.
• Consider Fostering a Dog First. If you’re unsure of whether the new dog you’ve chosen is right for your family and lifestyle, consider fostering before making a commitment. Fostering is incredibly important part of rescuing dog. It’s also a responsible way to know whether you’re ready to take on a new dog in your life and properly care for it. Plus, fostering takes them out of the shelter and if you are armed with the proper information, you can help transition the dog from shelter life to home life. Even if you decide that this particular dog isn’t a match for you, he may be the perfect dog for someone else who better matches his energy level or lack thereof. If you have a cat, fostering is a great way to test the waters to see if the cat is ready or able to live happily with a dog in the home. Tread lightly and take baby steps in the beginning!
• Don’t overlook the senior dogs. Senior dogs need homes just as badly as the cute puppies. They may not be suited to a home with very young children, as they’re not as accustomed to being around kids’ high energy. But they are wonderful companions for homes that are not as active. They may need less exercise and more health care, but the love they give in return is the reward.
• Don’t make an emotional decision when choosing a dog. When you decide the time is right, leave your emotions at the door. Going into a shelter is devastating and sad. But if you let your weaker emotions control your brain and feel sorry for the dog, you may end up adopting a dog that isn’t right for you, your family, or your environment. Save yourself the heartache and struggles later by being methodical and aware now.