Since I adopted Zeus, a mixed-breed puppy from a local shelter, I took an interest in the lives of stray animals and the adoption process.
So, You Want to Adopt a Dog
Bringing a new pet into your family will always impact your life in huge and unexpected ways. Taking care of an animal is a full-time job, as fun as it may seem. If you are ready to open your heart and home to a dog, you want to make sure you know all the facts.
Adopting is a very personal decision. Many people have common prejudices about shelter dogs. Others simply decide to go to a breeder because they have a specific breed in mind or they prefer puppies over older dogs.
If you do decide to go for a rescued dog, you should keep certain things in mind. It can be a bumpy ride, but it will be easier if you are mentally prepared to meet the challenge. I will present three pros and three cons of adopting a dog.
Should You Adopt a Dog?
The Cons of Adopting a Dog
Here are some potential hurdles to expect when adopting a dog.
Shelter dogs usually live in close quarters. In some shelters, they even sleep together in the same cage or next to each other. If you don't have another dog and you are not planning on getting one, you might as well prepare for some anxiety from your new BFF when he finds out he is on his own.
If he gets along with other dogs, walks are a great way to make new friends. You can kill two birds with one stone and sign up for some group training, which will strengthen your bond and give you a chance to mingle with other pet owners.
Going from living with a pack to being on his own can be hard for any dog. To make things worse, shelter dogs were sometimes abandoned by their previous families. Make sure your dog knows you will always come back using consistent routines and rewards.
When you leave, make sure you offer your dog a tasty treat or some interactive toys for your dog to take his mind off the loneliness. Kong toys are a great option—they are both durable and entertaining. You can fill them with treats or Kong paste, and your dog will love to scoop everything out.
You might also notice that for the first days your dog might be introverted or behave in a fearful manner. Be patient and make sure the animal has a place to retreat in case he feels overwhelmed. You have to understand most shelter dogs have a rough past, but this doesn't keep them from having a great future ahead!
When you share your food and living resources with a dozen other dogs, it is easy to develop some possessive habits, either with food or toys. For the first week or so after he got home from the shelter, Zeus, our adopted dog, ate his food and any scraps left on the floor like his life depended on it.
Luckily, habits wear off if they are not reinforced. Your best option is waiting out until your dog realizes he will always have enough food and toys for himself. If he shows any aggressive behavior, take the issue to a trained professional and do not use punishment methods (at least until you talk with a professional) because you have no idea if they are a trigger for your dog.
Pure breed dogs rarely end up in shelters. If they do, they have better chances of finding a family than other pups.
Most of the adoptable dogs are mixes, and even if the volunteers at the shelter swear they know the combination of genes behind a particular dog, it is almost impossible to tell the breeds that originated it.
Be warned that if looks are important to you, adopting might not be the best solution. Nobody likes a person who comes into the shelter and asks to see the pure breeds only.
Reasons to Adopt a Dog
So after all those arguments against adopting, why do it anyway? Here are three simple reasons.
Getting a dog is expensive. Getting a pure breed is even pricier. Certain dogs, like Huskies, have a high demand on the market (one trainer told me he thinks this is because of Game of Thrones' popularity).
These dogs can be expensive and sometimes come out of puppy mills, where puppies with certain characteristics are massively produced in cruel environments
Getting a dog from your local shelter is not only an act of kindness but also could save you a lot of bucks.
Lots of Options
As much fun as it is to get a younger puppy, it is a fact that they require lots of attention and energy. If you want an older dog, the shelter is a great way to obtain one. They are rarely adopted because they are not “as cute” as younger dogs, but they are the best choice if you want a calmer dog or have no time to train a puppy from zero.
Even if you do decide to get a puppy, the shelter will provide you with awesome mixes that accommodate your personality best. As the volunteers have already spent lots of time with the dogs and already have an idea of their background, they can suggest the best fit for your family.
Saving a Life
Getting a rescued dog will also open your eyes to the severe problem of animal neglect and abandonment. I guarantee you there is no way you will ever feel indifferent towards a stray dog again. Additionally, you have no idea of the satisfaction you will feel when you realize you have changed a life by simply opening your heart and home to a rescued animal.
Dakota on May 14, 2019:
Were are the pros?????