You know you want a puppy and you’ve decided how to select the one that is the perfect match for you and for your lifestyle. Now, how do you actually find the dog you’re looking for? There are really three options – you can go to a shelter, contact a rescue group or go to a breeder.
Fortunately now there are online sites that can help you locate puppies that are up for adoption. Almost every county and bigger city has a shelter that’s run by the local government as well as others run by nonprofit groups. Some will have state of the art facilities and others may be more basic but, as a rule, dogs from shelter will have had shots and possibly some basic training because this makes them more adoptable.
Think you will only find mutts in a shelter? Think again. It is estimated that 25 percent of dogs up for adoption are purebred who have been given up for all sorts of reasons. You will also find rescue groups – some tied to a specific breed – with dogs looking for new homes. Rescue groups tend to use a network of volunteers to house the dogs rather than a single facility. And, of course, if your heart is set on a purebred dog, you may also want to contact a reputable breeder. The American Kennel Club or a local vet can recommend someone in your area.
Places To Avoid
Stay away from that pet store at the mall and avoid buying over the internet. In both cases, you’re probably buying a dog from a “puppy mill”, horrendous breeding farms that churn out litters of puppies in the worst conditions.
Female breeder dogs, who spend their lives pregnant and giving birth to litters of puppies, spend their entire time in cages, with no exercise, companionship, or veterinary care. They give birth to litter after litter, and they’re often abandoned or killed when they’re no longer useful.
Many of the puppies produced in these horrible places are inbred, so they’re at higher risk for genetic conditions and diseases. So, if you’re child spots an adorable face in a window, don’t fall for it. Why reward the people who make a living mass-producing damaged puppies in awful conditions?
As for buying over the internet, don’t do it! There’s no substitute for meeting a dog face-to-face, checking out his history, maybe even meeting his parents.
Adopting From A Shelter
Adopting from a shelter is a great idea because not only you are helping a dog make a new start, but you will often be able find animals who are already spayed and neutered and have their basic shots. Before you go to a shelter though, it’s good idea to have a plan in place so you don’t get swept away emotionally by those pleading faces. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
- If you can, pick a shelter that is close to home. That way, you can easily make two or three visits if you’re having a problem making up your mind.
- If possible, bring along a dog trainer or other professional. Someone like that can give you their advice about a dog’s temperament.
- If you already have a dog, bring him or her along. See how your new puppy candidate gets along with your established dog.
- To get to know a dog’s real personality ignore him athirst, but stand or sit nearby, so it can get used to your presence ( and your scent). If you face the dog or try to talk to it, it has to adjust to you, and you won’t be able to get to really know it.
- Pay very close attention to body language and energy. Ears perked up and tail held high? That may signal an excited, dominant state, which you shouldn’t reward with attention. Give attention to a submissive dog whose head is slightly down and whose tail is wagging but in the middle.
- Dogs that rush to the front of the cage are showing signs of anxiety, frustration, or dominance. The ones that cower at the back of the cage may have shyness issues that can translate into fear-related aggressiveness.
- If a dog walks away from you, don’t chase him. Respect his boundaries.
- Narrow your choice down to the two or three. Ask if you can take each one for a short leash walk. Ask shelter workers about the dog’s personalities and habits. Do they have any health issues? Have they been adopted and returned? And if so, why?
- Bring your checkbook. If your application to adopt is approved, most likely, there will be either a donation or a fee due to the shelter.