Choosing the right shelter dog for you
Choosing an adult dog from a shelter may seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. First, please note that choosing an adult dog from a shelter is a good fit for many families, contrary to popular belief. Why? Choosing an adult dog means that you are most likely saving a dog from death or worse. Many shelter dogs are already trained in basic commands and may be housebroken too. If the dog you’re looking at isn’t trained, don’t fret as you can train adult dog! Also contrary to popular belief, most dogs are not deposited at the shelter due to behavioral problems. Now that you’re on your way to saving a life, here’s how’s to select an adult dog at the shelter using a basic temperament test.
- Look at the dog.
Fearful: The dog will back away from you.
Moderate: The dog may approach you wagging his tail with his head slightly lowered.
Dominant: The dog will stand at attention with a stiff body and a watchful eye on you.
- Pet the dog along his back.
Fearful: The dog will cower as you try to pet him.
Moderate: The dog will wag his tail and welcome the attention.
Dominant: The dog will move away and avoid your touch.
- Put a collar on the dog and attach a leash to it. Does the dog follow you?
Fearful: The dog will stiffen his body and refuse to move.
Moderate: The dog will follow you either on his own will or when called by you.
Dominant: The dog will bark, growl and/or lunge or pull on the leash.
- Make a sudden loud nose. How does the dog respond?
Fearful: The dog will attempt to flee or cower.
Moderate: The dog will initially be afraid but then look towards the noise to see what it might have been. He might even look to you for reassurance or gauge your response to the noise.
Dominant: The dog will bark aggressively.
- As you pet the dog, run your hand along his legs and feet. Gently rub his neck and ears. What is his reaction?
Fearful: The dog will flinch or or jump.
Moderate: The dog allows you to pet him with little or no apprehension.
Dominant: The dog will growl or try to get away.
- Put some food down in front of him on the floor. Let him smell the food before sliding the dish away from him. (Use a long stick or broom handle as you don’t know how the dog will react.)
Fearful: The dog will retreat or cower.
Moderate: The dog will follow the bowl and attempt to eat.
Dominant: The dog will bark loudly, growl or attempt to attack the stick.
- Take the dog for a walk.
Fearful: The dog is fearful or jittery.
Moderate: The dog is happy and eager to walk with you.
Dominant: The dog barks, growls or attacks the leash.
As you interact with the dogs at the shelter, keep in mind that your goal is to select a dog that will be friendly and trainable. A dog that displays aggression should not be chosen, especially if you have children. Have extensive conversations with the shelter staff and it wouldn’t hurt to take along an experienced dog handler with you. We hope that these tips will help you on your way to selecting your shelter dog. You can plan to look forward to many years of love and loyalty in return for saving the dog’s life. Believe it or not, he knows exactly what you’ve done and will be eternally grateful.
Have you rescued a shelter dog? What was your experience? Don’t hesitate to share below!