By: Michele Williams, Canine Adoption Network
Adopting a family pet is a lifelong commitment. It is not a spur of the moment decision. Foremost, you need to consider your lifestyle, then the time you are able to commit to the pet, its energy level, grooming needs, as well as any health issues inherent to the breed(s).
- Function over form. If you like to sit around and watch TV, you don’t want to get a working dog breed that needs a lot of exercise (for example, a blue heeler). If you like to jog and hike, you don’t want to get a dog that prefers a more sedentary lifestyle or one that cannot make that long hike due to its stature.
- Research the breed. You need to research the breed prior to making a decision. Some dogs look like they would be good joggers because they are large like a Great Dane, but research before you adopt. Great Danes are more sedentary, have large bone structure, but cannot handle a lot of hard exercise. Exercise is essential for a Great Dane and enjoys long walks but not the hard pounding on the joints during a jog. Despite their size they are good apartment dogs as they are relatively inactive in the house, but do require sufficient exercise. A Shih Tzu is a smart little dog and needs mental and physical exercise. With this breed, grooming is also a consideration when adopting. This little dog does well in a small apartment or on a farm but does require a short exercise period each day. As with all pets, exercise is very important to release energy to avoid behavioral issues in the future.
- Make a commitment to the pet. Before adoption, some people like to pick the “cutest” dog or puppy or have preconceived notion of what they want: “I’ve always wanted a dalmatian.” That may not necessarily be the right fit. Ask a lot of questions. If adopting from a rescue, let the person know your lifestyle. Many of the rescue foster homes have the dogs live with them in a home environment and know the personality of each dog. Spend at least two weeks with the pet to evaluate/fall in love with its personality! If you have any problems with the fit, do not hesitate in contacting the rescue group where you adopted the animal for help!
- Adopt from rescue groups. Needless to say, animals from shelters and rescue groups need our love the most. You can find all sorts of loving pets, from purebreds to mix/mutts, that need forever homes. Do you have a place in your heart and home for a jack russell terrier or a mastiff?