Comment from a post.
I am 66 years old and thinking of getting an adult German Shepherd or Golden Retriever from my local shelter. My Retriever of 16 years recently passed. Since I do not have the money to buy a purebred retriever or shepherd because of the high cost, I am thinking of adopting. I do have a big yard and house, so the size is not a problem. A concern is I would rather not get a dog with lots of problems, so how can I determine that when I go to the shelter what to look for? I don’t want to bring home a dog that has been abused. Open to your comments and suggestions.
Let me address some definitions and issues on adopting a dog
There are two major differences between dog shelters and rescue groups. Shelters are usually run and funded by the local municipality. Rescue groups are funded mainly by donations and the majority of the staff are volunteers. While some shelters place animals in foster homes, many are housed on-site in kennels.
Which is best to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue center?
The adoption process from a rescue is generally a lot more involved as compared to adopting from a shelter. The adoption can take weeks and would mean multiple visits before being finalized. Animals from rescues are often very healthy, spayed and neutered, and have a complete round of vaccinations.
I appreciate your comment on the Training Tips page regarding your question on getting a dog through your local shelter. There are a few basic principles you need to follow when you choose an animal from any animal shelter. Although some animals may have been handed indirectly by owners who can no longer care for their pets, the majority of animals will be strays or abandoned animals. Stray dogs have no history, so adopters should be ready for anything, including excess barking, destructive chewing, fear of men, women, children, noises, other dogs, fear-biting, house soiling, aggression, dominance, and health problems. Many owners who abandon their dogs may have legitimate reasons or they may just be passing on a problem they no longer would tolerate or could not train their pets. Let’s say they may have created a dog that is ill-behaved, aggressive, fearful, or just destructive. Many times these owners do not tell the truth when they leave their dogs at the shelter because they don’t want the dog to be euthanized or they are embarrassed that they failed in their responsibility as an owner to the animal.
When little is known about the history of an animal, potential adopters must lean heavily on the knowledge the staff has of each dog in the shelter. A German Shepherd that constantly runs away and is not obedience trained is not suitable for an elderly owner, a smaller dog mix that nips at children is not appropriate for a family with kids, and a dominant adult male Terrier or Husky is not a desirable pet for a first-time owner. Also, take notice that if the staff members are ill-equipped to assist or answer questions in the selection process, those looking to adopt should seek another shelter. I believe your selection of the two breeds is an excellent choice. They’re both intelligent, alert, and friendly and are very protective. I think this particular breed will be ideal for you and t is excellent you are already fond of the breed.
You can basically never be 100% certain that the dog you choose will be completely free of behavioral problems and fine when you get them home. You can however narrow this likelihood down by asking the Shelter personnel a number of questions:
- What history do you have on this dog?
2. What vaccinations, wormings, and tests has the dog had?
3. What behavior problems have been noticed since the dog was incarcerated?
4. If the dog is a purebred or an obvious combination of mixed breeds, what breed information is available from the shelter before the adoption?
5. If you have little or no information, will you refer me to a book, a breeder, a breed or kennel club, or a rescue organization?
6. Do you provide training services or referrals?
7. Do you provide consultation on behavior problems?
When you spend time with each animal, you’ll want to ask yourself..
How old is the dog? You may want to select a puppy as your new companion. However, young dogs usually require much more training and supervision than more mature dogs. If you lack the time or patience to housetrain your pup or to correct problems like chewing and jumping, an adult dog may be a better choice.
How shy or assertive is the dog? Although an active and an overzealous dog might catch your eye, a more quiet or reserved dog might be a better match if you don’t have a particularly active lifestyle.
I hope this has given you some insight into adopting your new pet from a shelter. I believe you should look for a younger dog that has a good rapport with the shelter personnel and of course you like the look and personality of your pick. That is an important key to your selection and also, one that likes you.
Best of luck with the decision.