Dog BoardingDOG GUIDETraining & Behavior

How To Pick A Dog from A Shelter? – Adopt And Save A Life

When you adopt a dog from a shelter, it might be challenging to know exactly what you’re getting.

You see, a dog going through being stuck in a shelter is a horrible experience. They were removed from the life they knew and placed in a frightening location with unfamiliar people and canines. It makes sense that their actions could be a little strange.

It may take a while for you to notice a dog’s true colors once you bring him home. Some timid canines develop into extroverted ones. Some hyperactive dogs unwind. A few relaxed dogs begin to bounce off the walls.

Dogs in Shelter

The obvious next question is how to find the ideal dog if you can’t know its genuine character.

  1. The first step is to identify what kind of dog we want before visiting the shelter. This is crucial whether getting a dog from a breeder, a neighbor, or a pet shop. We should base our choice on an honest evaluation of our way of life and our level of dog-training and care expertise. We are committing to this for the next 10 to 15 years, after all! Asking the personnel of the shelter for assistance in locating the ideal companion is quite acceptable.
  1. Seek out the friendliest canines. While some choose to remain in the back, some dogs choose to approach the front of their kennel to socialize. They should interact with you and try to get your attention when you speak to them and put your hand up to the bars. A gregarious, outgoing dog is less likely to struggle with aggression than one who is scared.
  1. Check the shelter. A filthy kennel with waste and urine may indicate that a dog is not completely house trained. Toys or bedding that has been torn to pieces may indicate a predisposition to act destructively when stressed or bored.
  1. Keeping a safe distance, observe the dog’s behavior as it interacts with a variety of people, including youngsters, and other dogs that pass by. The staff should be informed of your concerns over the dog’s lunging and barking behavior.
  1. Once you have a few probable candidates in mind, eliminate them one at a time. Most animal shelters offer a specific area where prospective adopters can meet the dogs. Release the dog, then wait. Avoid moving or speaking to the dog. Keep track of how long it takes the dog to approach you. While some dogs go around and pay attention to their environment, others are more drawn to the people. However, keep in mind that depending on how long the dog was kenneled before you let him/her out, the dog may need to go potty first. The ideal candidate will try to captivate your interest and win your favor.
  1. Inquire with the employees of the shelter about the possibility of a behavior evaluation and pay great attention to any resource guarding issues, particularly those that are aimed toward people. A dog that is growling at its bowl of food could be more of a hassle for you to deal with than you would want. If the dog has not previously been tested, get the assistance of the staff and observe the animal’s behavior around various types of food, toys, and rawhides.
  1. Try rubbing your hand around the dog’s body after getting to know it a little better; you might even want to gently confine the dog a little. No matter what you do, does the dog have a tail that is wagging and comfortable, or do you observe stiffness, attempts to flee or remove your hand? Depending on the response, some dogs may require a little practice being touched all over, so this is not necessarily a deal breaker. However, you might need to spend some time training the dog. This is not the dog for you if you notice any hostility or if you have young children at home.
  1. Observe how the dog responds to various noises. In response to a loud noise, some dogs will crouch and hide. Other dogs might focus their attention on any nearby sound, including people speaking or passing cars. These dogs could struggle to adapt to environment changes and exhibit greater anxiety-related behavioral problems.
  1. Send the dog for a stroll. Observe how they respond to passing dogs and people. Pulling or jumping enthusiastically in the direction of others is acceptable, but lunging and barking should raise questions and be discussed with the shelter personnel.
  1. Be ready to walk away with nothing! It’s possible that you’ll need to visit the shelter a few times before selecting a dog. There might not be the ideal dog just yet.

Advantages In Getting A Dog From A Shelter

Kids with Dog
  • We are helping to save a life here! When all is said and done, deciding to go the road of adoption is a gratifying process.
  • Many dogs in shelters are incredibly loving and will form strong bonds with their new owners. The majority of animals were given up because of a death, illness, birth of a child, or other change in their owner’s life rather than because of any inherent flaws. After experiencing the agony of abandonment, kids frequently develop very close ties with their new family. They frequently make very devoted companions, even as adults.
  • The majority of shelters have examined the pets for any health problems. The majority of dogs are healthy, completely vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and evaluated for any obvious medical issues. However, there are some dogs with health challenges who are waiting for a compassionate heart to care for them. This represents a significant discount over purchasing a dog from any other source, including a free advertisement in the newspaper, even after paying the adoption cost.
  • Before placing the dogs on the floor, many shelters do behavioral evaluations on them. The dogs are judged on how friendly they are toward people and other dogs, how they act when approached while eating, how anxious and fearful they are, and, of course, whether or not they could pose a risk. Usually, dogs with serious or problematic behavioral difficulties are not made available for adoption. This also implies that the personnel can help choose the dog that seems to fit the client the best by offering some insightful information about the available canines.
  • Dogs of every age, from pups to senior citizens, are available in shelters. Each person has slightly different needs. Finding an older dog makes sense if we are well into retirement. Compared to the younger canines, they tend to be more relaxed and less demanding. If we’re willing to do the work that comes with the responsibility, there are also lots of puppies if that’s what we’re searching for.

Should You Adopt a Puppy, Adult, or Senior Dog?

Dogs of any age are typically up for adoption at shelters. Determine whether a puppy, adult dog, or senior dog would be the greatest fit for your lifestyle before you begin the dog-buying process.

Adopting a Puppy

You might not be able to predict the size of a mixed breed puppy until he is fully grown. You should get a better notion of the puppy’s complete adult size and temperament if you select one that is older (over 6 months old). Despite how wonderful puppies are, housebreaking and training a young dog takes time and effort, so be sure you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

Adopting an Adult Dog

Adult dogs of various ages can be found at most shelters. Unless they were dogs that lived their entire lives on the streets, they are typically already housebroken. Many are familiar with simple cues like “sit,” “stay,” and leash walking.

Choosing an adult dog has the main advantage of letting you know exactly what you’re getting. You can immediately tell that he is full grown and that he has a distinct personality.

Adopting a Senior Dog

Many great senior dogs are in good condition and have many more years of love to give, yet some people shy away from pets with some white on their muzzle and go for the younger dogs. Most are well-mannered, housebroken, and devoted companions for people or families.

Before Going to the Dog Shelter

You’ll have a far better notion of what breed of dog would be the ideal match for you if you think about the ensuing issues beforehand.


How much time can you or other members of your family devote to caring for a dog? Do you have the time to take a high-activity dog for one or two daily long walks, or would a dog with less energy suit your hectic schedule better?

Your Family

It’s crucial to choose a dog that is suitable for everyone in your home, unless you live alone. If you have kids, be aware that some dogs get along with children of all ages, some dogs are better suited for older kids, and some dogs shouldn’t be in a home with kids at all.

The personnel at the dog shelter are frequently helpful in deciding whether a particular dog will be a good fit for your family.

Dog Allergies

Does anyone in your home have a dog allergy? If so, focus only on hypoallergenic breeds when searching. The Bichon Frise, Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, and Maltese are a few examples.

Sometimes you can find hypoallergenic breeds in shelters. To find out whether there are any dogs of the breeds you’re interested in, contact local animal shelters.


Do you live in an apartment or a tiny house, or do you have a large house with a yard that’s enclosed? An active dog can be a lot of fun, but only if you have enough room for him to run around and play as much as he need.

10 Questions to Ask the Dog Shelter Staff

The adoption procedure will go more smoothly the more you are aware of the dog and the shelter’s adoption guidelines.

Before adopting, it’s helpful to be aware of the following:

  1. How’s the health of the dog? Are there any known medical conditions with him or her?
  2. Has the dog undergone neutering or spaying?
  3. Does the dog have all of its shots?
  4. Have they conducted personality tests?
  5. What is the canine’s past? (If known, this will reveal if the dog was abandoned by its owner, a stray, etc.)
  6. Is the dog housebroken?
  7. If you have kids, do they believe this dog is appropriate for their ages, if known?
  8. Do they think this dog will be safe around your other pets if you have any?
  9. What is the shelter’s return policy in the event that something goes wrong?
  10. Does the dog come with a health guarantee?

More Tips for Choosing a Shelter Dog

  1. Before you adopt, allow the dog to meet everyone in your home.
  2. To check how your present dog gets along with the dog you’re considering, several shelters allow or even urge you to bring it along.
  3. If you’re having problems choosing between several pets, ask the volunteers or employees at the shelter for further details about the dogs. These folks frequently interact with dogs and are familiar with their distinctive personalities. Give them a brief description of your search criteria and ask for their suggestions for dogs.
  4. Don’t wait too long to formally adopt a dog once you’ve made up your mind about it. Some dogs are adopted quite quickly, while others remain at the shelter for a time.

Reasons Why Adoption Saves Lives

Congratulations on considering adopting a dog from a shelter! Because cage space is limited at shelters, you may not only be saving the life of the dog you adopt, but perhaps more lives. I hope this information was helpful to you, and good luck in your search for a new best buddy!

Final Words

The experience of adopting a dog from a shelter is satisfying. These dogs are sweet, affectionate, and deserve a happy life even when they exhibit signs of abuse or neglect. It is both emotional and satisfying to watch a dog gradually emerge out of their shell and develop into a well-adjusted, well-trained, happy dog. But it doesn’t just happen that way; just like when you buy a puppy from somewhere else, you have to give it everything it needs. For everyone to have a pleasant experience, it’s important to be realistic about how much we can accomplish compared to how much the dog requires.