Looking to adopt? We'll help you make the right choice

Man’s best friend comes in all shapes, sizes, and, of course, personalities. The good news is that almost any rescue dog can make a wonderful, lifelong companion for you and your family.

The key is simply knowing what to look for! Here are a few things to think about:

Think About the Best Fit For you

Choosing the right dog generally means identifying the type of animal who matches your wants and lifestyle. If you live alone in a small, third-floor apartment, for instance, adopting a large, active retriever mix might not be the best choice. Conversely, if you’ve got a family of four and are looking for a companion to match your active family lifestyle, such an animal may be the perfect choice. A dog’s size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness, and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision.

First, turn down the emotion that is stirred up by media. As a family, discuss these questions:

If you have the answers to these questions, you are ready to start your search.

Visit the dog

While you’re looking for a pup, keep in mind that being part of a rescue can be stressful for the animal. Quite often, a dog’s true colors won’t show until he’s away from other animals and the current environment. So if a dog isn’t vying for your attention, don’t count him out. He may just be a little scared or lonely.

adoption counselor can help you select canine candidates who’ll match what you’re looking for. 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. Keep in mind that young dogs usually require much more training and supervision than more mature dogs. If you lack the time or patience to housebreak 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, bouncy dog may catch your eye, a more quiet or reserved dog might be easier to live with and care for.

How good is the dog with children?

Learning about a dog’s past through a history sheet or from an adoption counselor can be helpful, but past information isn’t always available. In general, a dog who is active, likes to be touched, and is not sensitive to handling and noise is a dog who will probably thrive in a house full of kids.

Learn about different breeds and mixes

So how do you know what kinds of dogs will have the qualities you’re looking for? The best way to find out is to learn about the various breeds, visit with the animal, and speak with an adoption counselor for guidance.

Dogs fall into one of two categories: purebreds or mixed breeds. Most rescues have plenty of both. The only significant difference between the two is that purebreds, because their parents and other ancestors are all members of the same breed, generally conform to a specific "breed standard." This means that if you adopt a puppy who is purebred, you have a good chance of knowing how big he’ll get when he gets older and what general physical and behavioral characteristics he’s likely to have.

The size, appearance, and temperament of most mixed breed dogs can be predicted as well. After all, mixed breeds are simply combinations of different purebreds. So if you can recognize the ancestry of a particular mixed breed puppy, you’ll have a good chance of knowing how he’ll turn out, too. When you adopt a mixed breed, you have the benefit of getting the combined traits of two or more different breeds in one animal and you adopt a totally unique companion.

Whether you’re looking for a purebred or a mixed breed dog, both can be found in our adoption centers and both can make wonderful companions!

Choose a pal for life

Every dog can provide you with boundless love and companionship, and every dog certainly deserves a lifelong home. But some dogs are better for you and your lifestyle that others. That’s why you should take the time to make a thoughtful choice. After all, you’re choosing a pal who will be with you 10, 15, or even more years. Select the right dog, and you and your new companion will enjoy those years to the fullest.

Bringing a new dog home

Congratulations, you have made a wonderful decision to adopt an adolescent or adult dog from the adoption center. We hope that you and your new dog will bond and have a long lasting relationship. To insure that you get started on the right foot we have a few suggestions.

It’s important to give your new dog structure and guidance in the first few weeks. Dogs feel better when they know their place in the family.

Give your new dog a schedule so he learns when feeding time, play time and exercise time will come. Let your dog know what behaviors please you (give a treat for being good). Teach your dog to “sit” and ask him to sit before he gets anything — food, attention, play, going outside. This simple practice teaches your new dog that you are the boss.

It’s likely that your new dog may have a few accidents in the house the first few days, even if he is housetrained. To help prevent this and retrain your new dog, do the following:

Dogs that are rescued from a shelter often bond very rapidly, closely and deeply with their new owners. This can cause a problem when you have to leave him alone. You must teach your new dog that you are not going to abandon him when you leave the house.

Do not make a big deal out of your departures and arrivals. Just come and go without saying anything to the dog. The very first day you should depart frequently. Just go in and out of the house numerous times for a few seconds and then a few minutes. Ignore your dog completely for 15 minutes before you leave and 15 minutes after you come home. Leave your dog with a food stuffed toy to keep him busy for a while after you leave. Leave a radio or TV on when you are gone to keep your dog company. This may calm him and will also provide background noise that will block all the noises outside.