Facts to Know about Dog Adoption

Many of the animals awaiting adoption in shelters have had very rough beginnings.  Some were abused, some abandoned and some were “turned in” because the owners didn’t have time for them. Many were left alone for long periods and some were never properly potty trained. In short, when adopting an animal you must be prepared to work with them. They may come to you cowed or with feelings of trepidation and may be overly sensitive to your tone of voice or to any commands you might give them. You will need to be patient and by all means, loving. When they finally realize that they can trust you they will reward you with more affection and loyalty than you can imagine.


Adopting a dog as a means of entertaining a small child is not recommended. We have seen this image too often. A pup is brought home to a giggling child too happy to have a cuddly little puppy with furiously wagging tail while kissing the child all over the face, a happy contagiously funny scene. The excitement though wears off easily. Soon the dog will be peeing on the carpet, needing to be fed and watered, jumping on people, begging for walks, creating noise, uprooting plants, digging in the yard and messing around as all dogs do. Adopting a dog entails responsibilities such as grooming, taking it out for exercises, training and caring as well as feeding and watering. This is the bigger scene not usually imagined but just as real.




A dog is not a toy and should not be treated as one.  Small children should be trained to understand “animal etiquette”.  In other words, animals are not to be hit, dragged, ridden or teased.  They should understand that being overly aggressive with a new dog, especially one recently adopted, could cause the dog to react by biting or running away.  If feeding and exercising the dog is to be the responsibility of a child, an adult should follow up to be sure these things are getting done.  It isn’t the dog’s fault if a child fails to meet his or her obligations and the dog shouldn’t have to suffer for the child’s failure.


If you base what you do on inaccurate information, you might be unpleasantly surprised by the consequences. Make sure you get the whole dog adoption story from informed sources.


Setting Limits

Even before the dog is brought home, the family should agree on tasks, assignments and other dog duties for the caring of the dog. Assignments should include who should feed the dog on particular days, who should take the dog for walks, and who should groom the dog. Agree on areas that are off limits to the dog and areas where the dog is allowed. If the dog is not yet trained, do not allow the dog to sit on the furniture or sleep in the bed with people.


When limits are not set and the dog is allowed to do as it wants, the dog will attempt to dominate. This is an old pattern of dog behaviour that is carried over since the dogs were still in the wild. To prevent this, do not play games with the dog that will teach him to challenge you. Roughhouse and tug of war are some of the most popular examples.


When the dog starts to nip, it is a signal that the dog have had enough, let the dog rest and do not allow another occasion to reach that point as it also teaches the dog to become dominant. Likewise, do not allow nor encourage wild behaviour.


The dog also appreciates hierarchy. If it learns from the start that you play dominance or is the alpha male, it would be easier to make the dog follow your commands.


Many adopted dogs will come to the new surroundings filled with fears based upon earlier mistreatment or the harsh rules of their previous owners.  Some dogs will be reluctant to go from one room to another, will shy away when corrected and hide upon hearing a loud noise.  New owners must be patient with them and speak to them softly and affectionately.  Dogs are not stupid and they will gradually come to understand their new environment and show their appreciation for your loving care.



The basic supplies that the dog will need are bowls for water and food, a dog ID tag with name address and phone number, a bed, a comb, a collar and a leash, and dog food.


Dog Training

Dog obedience training must start as early as possible because the dog has to learn manners and to follow commands. Excessive barking, jumping on people, quarrelling with other dogs and house pets, chewing on furniture, scratching the carpet  are just some of the examples untrained dogs do that often results to embarrassment to their owners.


Different dogs have a variety of temperaments. These do not only differ from one dog to another, it also differs depending on the breed and the size of the dog. While dogs are generally lovely and lively creatures, there are some negative traits that surface after a while. Negative traits, however, are reduced if not removed by training. 


When contemplating adoption, prospective new owners should be prepared to deal with the fact that their new adoptee may not be completely housebroken.  Previous owners may have been irresponsible in their approach to this training; furthermore, when the dog was placed in the shelter it continued to do its “business” right in its pen.  Housebreaking is not a complex chore and should not deter someone from adopting a pet.  Some owners will use a cage to assist in this training, while others will just take the dog out for a walk several times a day.  Fenced yards and doggie doors are minimal expenses that pay extra dividends on cold or rainy days.


Adopted dogs are subject to all of the behavioural problems commonly associated to dogs in general.  These would include digging, jumping up on people, jumping fences, barking and nipping.  There are proven solutions to all of these “offenses.”  If your dog is prone to digging, and always digs in one area, there are a number of effective repellent sprays that work well.  If he digs under your fence, a little buried chicken wire works wonders in breaking that habit.  Spray bottles filled with water should be kept at hand to break a dog from jumping up and to combat incessant barking.  Quick sprits in the face immediately following, or during, the offensive behaviour will usually bring about a quick behaviour modification.


Visiting an animal shelter can be an emotional experience for an animal lover.  It’s difficult to see all the animals in their pens and not want to take them all home.  Such feelings are understandable and commendable; however, just be sure that prior to adoption you consider all of the ramifications.  And remember, your best friend is waiting for you at your local animal shelter.


Is there really any information about dog adoption that is nonessential? We all see things from different angles, so something relatively insignificant to one may be crucial to another.