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Monday, January 04, 2010

Should You Adopt a Dog From the Dog Pound?

by Shari Coxford

People often hesitate to adopt a dog from the dog pound or animal shelter because they don't know what they're getting into by adopting an adult dog. They assume that the dog is at the dog pound for a good reason. Perhaps he chewed up someone's shoes, peed on Aunt Molly or got into the trash. There must be something wrong with the dog for his previous owners to abandon him.

That's the big myth. Dogs are abandoned for a number of reasons. Some of the most common are:

1. Moving to an apartment that doesn't allow dogs.

2. Getting married to someone who is allergic to, or doesn't like dogs.

3. The dog doesn't get along with other family pets such as a cat.

4. The owner doesn't want to deal with a pregnant dog or a dog who just had puppies.

5. Someone gives a child a dog without asking the parents, who later take the dog to the dog pound.

6. Wanting a puppy but not an adult dog. Once the puppy grows up the owners lose interest and get rid of the dog.

7. Failure to train a puppy and when he grows up, the owners cannot control him. They take the adult dog to the animal shelter and sadly, start the cycle again with a new puppy.

8. Going into the military or taking a job that requires a lot of travel and having no one at home to care for the dog.

9. The dog's owner dies or goes into a nursing home.

10. Changing their mind. They simply don't want a dog anymore.

More than half of the reasons for abandoning a dog have nothing to do with the dog having behavioral problems. What's more, you're not necessarily going in blind when you adopt a dog from the dog pound. Animal shelters often have a record about the dog which includes whether he's been potty trained, crate trained, spayed or neutered, knows the basic commands, is an indoor or outdoor dog, and whether he gets along with other dogs or cats.

In addition, the workers at the animal shelter have spent a few days with the dog and can tell you if he's aggressive, friendly, fearful, etc. Dogs don't just appear on their doorstep. People turn them in and in doing so they fill out a fact sheet about the dog.

Adopting a dog from the dog pound is no more risky than adopting from a newspaper ad, internet posting or even a friend of a friend. Your dog should be a lifelong commitment and you should be prepared to train him or reinforce his existing training regardless of where the dog comes from.

What should you look for when adopting an adult dog?


A dog who is jumping around in the cage is going to be jumping around in your home. A dog who is jumping up with his feet against the cage trying to entice you is likely to jump up on you as well. Be prepared for some dog training exercises to calm a hyper dog.


If he's barking for attention in the cage he'll be barking for attention when you get him home. The dog may continue barking when separated from you or left alone.

Peeing From Excitement

If the dog gets excited when you approach the cage and pees, he may have a problem holding it when excited. Be prepared to potty train the dog or break him of a nervous pee habit.

Fear or Aggression

If the dog is cowering in the cage or appears fearful, he may become a biter. If he growls at you, he may become a biter. Do not adopt such a dog unless you have complete confidence in your abilities to handle a dog that may have special training needs.

Previous Environment

If you're given any information about his previous environment take it into account when adopting the dog. The owners often give valuable clues in their recommendations such as whether the dog needs a fenced yard or prefers indoors or outdoors. If they've recommended that his new home have a fenced yard, you can bet part of their difficulty with the dog involved NOT having a fenced yard. Sometimes the fact sheet tells you if the dog is good with other dogs or cats or kids.


Puppies and younger dogs will be full of energy and playfulness. You will need to give younger dogs an outlet for the energy or they will cause you problems. Older dogs are by nature more calm and mellow. As many people prefer puppies, older dogs are also harder for the dog pound to find homes for and are often euthanized regardless of how well trained they are.


This is a key factor in choosing a dog who is suitable for you. A long haired dog will require a lot more maintenance and you must be prepared to provide it. Certain dog breeds are high energy and need daily physical exercise or they will cause you problems. High energy dogs won't do well in a home full of couch potatoes. Consider whether your home is big enough for a big dog or whether you'd be better suited to a smaller dog. Some breeds do better with children. Do a little research before adopting a dog and you'll have a better chance of finding your perfect dog.

Choose the right dog for you and your family and don't be the owner who abandons him. Be the owner who befriends and teaches him and your dog will be your best friend for life. Never assume that just because somebody abandoned the dog that there's something wrong with the dog. Perhaps it's the owner who was the problem.

Find a pet sitter so your new family member can stay at home when your away. Match with pet sitters in your area at

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