Activity level: Do you have a lifestyle that allows for a very active and driven pet? It's important to walk any dog but some dogs require much more than just a leisurely stroll around the block to ensure that they are balanced and happy. Also, remember that just because a dog is small doesn't mean it will be content as a couch potato. A Jack Russell Terrier is a great example of a small dog with a big motor!
Size: One size DOES NOT fit all when it comes to finding a great match for you. There are a lot of variables that go into this choice, a lot of questions to ponder. You want to make sure that you can provide a long term, loving home for your new pet and that your lifestyle can accommodate your new pet’s needs. You are making a long term commitment!
Grooming needs: Haircuts, shedding, brushing…some dogs require quite a regimen to keep them free from knots or keep your house free from piles of hair. Some heavy shedders might actually surprise you….short hair does not mean you won't get covered in hair when you pet them! Some dogs have long undercoats and require regular brushing, some have short wiry hair that seems to get into every nook and cranny and some dogs are hypoallergenic but require regular haircuts to prevent matting of the hair or blindness from overgrown eyebrows. Know what works best for you and avoid surprises.
Personality: When adopting a pet we need to remember that these pets have been through some challenging times. Some have been abused and others have been neglected. Some adoptable pets will be happy as can be and ready to jump right into your routine but others will be shy or distant and will need a lot of patience from you before they build trust and move deeper into the relationship. Having patience with your newly adopted pet and remembering that things take time will put you on the right track to establishing a long lasting relationship and ensuring that your home is their last home.
2. Find a Local Shelter or Rescue
Through online resources like <a href="http://poundwishes.com">Poundwishes.com</a>you can find a shelter or rescue to connect with. Who knows, you may even find a dog that you can't adopt but would love to help out in some way.
Check out the dogs that are available for adoption. There are a lot of breed specific rescues if you wanted to streamline your search toward one particular breed. Contact the shelters and rescues in your area via email or phone and let them know what you’re looking for if you don't see anything online that you feel would be a good fit. They may have some wonderful new arrivals that they haven't yet put online. You can set up a time to swing by for a visit and go meet some little friends face to face.
3. Ask Questions
You are doing an amazing thing by giving a dog a second chance by adopting an animal that needs a forever home. You want to do the best job you can do and you can't provide what this animal needs unless you ask some questions. If you are adopting an adult dog, it's vital to find out all you can about its past and the things they have experienced. Remember that shelters and rescues want to find their dogs a "forever" home! Providing you with the information they have will help you help them, and most of all – help the one that needs the right permanent placement. So ask away! Also, make sure you inform the shelter or rescue of anything that can help in the matchmaking process. Do you have other pets at home? Do you have a yard or are you in an apartment? Do you have small children? How often are you home? Answer them openly, they know their dogs!
4. Spend Time
So you've done your research and you've asked all the right questions…now you need to have some one-on-one time. Before you take a pet home do a few bonding exercises and see how they react. Take them for a walk or maybe go into a fenced area and throw a ball around or sit with them for a bit. You may find that you have a few more questions. It's better to know these things before you go home.
5. Prep and Plan for Homecoming
Once you've made up your mind you'll need to make sure that you provide a smooth transition. Plan and prep ahead of time. Plan out where they'll go to the bathroom, where they will eat, where they will sleep, etc. Prep by having the supplies you need like food, things for chewing, a crate, leash and collar, etc. Find a vet near you and make an appointment. Changing environments can be stressful for a dog and doing what you can to make his arrival calm and peaceful will make a huge impact. Do not allow them to have free reign of your house, introduce things slowly. Set up boundaries right away and be consistent. Remember that during this time, patience is key. A perfectly potty trained dog can randomly decide to mark his territory. You guys are getting to know each other and you can't expect perfection. Put in the time, patience and love and you will have a companion for life!
Everything we do sends a message to our pet. Did you know that giving your dog affection at the wrong time can send the wrong message and worsen unwanted behavior? Giving affection during desired behaviors is an important thing to remember.