Questions to ask yourself before adopting a dog from a shelter

Adopting a dog from a shelter is good. You save a life and prevent another dog from being euthanized by giving him space in the shelter. When you go to a shelter, you will probably want to save all the dogs. They will all hurt you and you would like to take them all home. However, not all dogs will suit you and to avoid disappointment on both sides, it is important to clearly identify the one who will accompany you in your life. In this article, we will help you ask the relevant questions that will help you make your choice

  • What is the story of this dog? Do we know his past, his previous behavior, his possible traumas or his medical history?

Its history is essential, in fact, a dog which has been beaten by a man will not have the same need for support as a dog whose owner has unfortunately died. A dog that was abandoned because it had a chronic illness will not react the same way as a beaten dog. In the first case, he may be very mentally balanced and will only require basic treatment, whereas in the second case, he will require time and trust. It is the role of the association to guide you as much as possible based on the elements that it itself has been able to collect. Sometimes associations don't have data and you learn on the job. We had picked up a dog, Youki, an abused border collie who lived in unsanitary accommodation where people heated themselves by burning wood in a barrel… apart from that, we had no more information and it was fun . He fought for everything, sleeping, eating. Tense as ever. But it lasted 3 days... To tell you how much dogs don't speak but they understand everything, they analyze their environment and Youki quickly understood that he was safe, that he had his own bed, his own bowl . By being patient, the dog will change in no time.

  • How old is he ? Does an old dog cost more to maintain than a young dog?

These questions are obvious but they are important. Depending on the age of the dog, you will need to prepare for a different “mission”. A young dog will require time for education and learning canine codes. Often more fiery, he will require patience and kindness. An older dog may already know basic commands but may have problems with fear of abandonment, for example. An older dog will have to see the veterinarian more regularly, even for a simple check-up. Be careful, some young dogs often end up at the vet because they tend to eat anything and everything, to explore unexplored areas where they will get injured, etc. This is what happened to Seven our Golden Retriever , trash can on legs, we even thought about getting him a VIP subscription. So, a young dog does not necessarily cost less vet money than an older dog.

  • What is his temperament? Is it suitable for a household with children, other animals, or elderly people? or does he have known behavioral problems, such as separation anxiety or fear of men?

Knowing the dog's temperament is essential. You want a dog to fill a home and not make it unlivable. So, if you have children, cats, other dogs or other pets, make sure that your new dog already accepts the existing environment. Even though dogs have a fairly good capacity for adaptation, it can sometimes take a long time or even years to get a dog who doesn't like cats to accept a cat. Might as well save you time and energy. The question will be even more central if you have children.

  • Is he spayed/neutered and up to date with his vaccinations? what are their specific needs in terms of care, food or health?

Normally and systematically, shelter dogs will be spayed or neutered. The association or shelter takes care of it but sometimes, in the emergency of rescue, the dog will end up at your home before being sterilized or castrated. The association will ask you to take care of it even if it is, in most cases, the association that bears the costs. It happens that small associations do not have the means to do this. If you think that it is also too great a financial burden for you to sterilize a dog, then we advise you not to have a dog at all. A dog is not what we call a model of economic profitability: it will give you a lot of love but in return, you have to take care of it and that also means giving it the necessary care, buying it kibble adapted, buy him his accessories , his toys, etc.

  • What is his energy level? Does he need a lot of exercise or is he calmer? Is he used to living indoors or outdoors?

Adapt your choice to your lifestyle. If you are sporty, take advantage of it and get an energetic dog like a shepherd, mountain or hunting dog. He will be delighted and you too will have an adventure companion who will be able to follow you wherever you go. If you are more of a homebody or if you are a city dweller, choose a dog of the same type but above all do not choose a dog for its physique! For example, an Australian Shepherd has nothing to do with you if you live in 30m2 in the city and you never go out. It's obvious and yet, many dogs rescued by associations lived on balconies or in rooms without ever seeing the light of day.

  • Is he used to being alone at home? How does he react in the absence of his masters?

Same as the previous point, this question is extremely important. Many rescued dogs may react badly and cope poorly when you leave for work, especially those who have already experienced painful separations. Don't panic, it can be worked on, contact a competent educator to work on loneliness and prevent it from turning your house upside down. On the other hand, if you leave from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and leave the dog at home, there is no point. A dog is not a flower pot, it is a sensitive living being, which needs to be with its family, to participate in household life. He has physiological needs, like walking, playing, etc. It's not his fault if he makes messes because he's bored all day long. It's yours. Think about it, if you meet his needs, your dog will be well in his head and in his body, life will become easy for you. For example, we had rescued a shelter dog, Neptune, who had been in a cage for 6 years and who could not stand solitude, even for 15 minutes. It is therefore impossible to go shopping for example without it damaging the walls, scratching until it hurts itself. It took a long time to make him understand that when you go away, you always come back.

  • What is his experience with leash walks and basic training?

This point is of interest depending on the breed of dog you take. Indeed, if your 45kg beauceron does not know how to walk on a leash and you weigh barely heavier than him, then this risks posing a problem, he risks carrying you away at every temptation during walks and you risk eating from the ground or worse, if you do not control your dog, accidents can occur. I weigh around 80kg and our 40kg dog Arès made me fall several times during the training phase, I might as well tell you that you have to be realistic and you must be able to hold your dog in all situations

  • Are there any restrictions or special conditions for its adoption?

Serious associations will ask you for information before entrusting you with a dog. What accommodation do you live in, whether there is land or not, your job, the time you can devote to the dog, whether there are other animals, etc... it's normal, they want to make sure that it's a match between you and the dog. Some even come to your home to ensure that the environment is good. Don't take it the wrong way, it's a good sign, it's synonymous with an association committed to the end of the process.

  • Is there post-adoption monitoring or support available if problems arise?

There are several scenarios. Some associations entrust you with the dog and you are its new owner. In this case, the dog is entirely your responsibility. The association can, however, allow you to benefit from its network and its preferential prices if it is a local association and you live in its area of ​​influence.

We have also worked with associations which, once the dog is rescued and even placed, remains the property of the association. These associations act in this way because they prefer to always have an eye on the placed animal. Don't worry, the dog is yours and you train it and travel as you want with it. It is simply a guarantee for the well-being of the dog. This guarantee also applies to costs. Associations acting in this way will often leave you responsible for the food, but when it comes to veterinary costs, they will support you and participate as much as possible. So this is reassuring for you too.

Concerning post-adoption follow-up, many associations practice it, that is to say that approximately once a year, they call you or come to your home to find out news about your animal, to find out if everything is going well, if you have unresolved issues or other specific requests... Unfortunately, due to lack of time or volunteers, sometimes follow-ups are only done once every 2/3 years. Don't hesitate to send photos and news, the associations will always be delighted to see that your dog is doing well.


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