What questions should I ask before adopting a dog?
The most important questions are the ones you ask yourself, even before you approach a rescue group or shelter. Am I ready for a commitment of five or ten or more years? Am I willing to adjust my life to make room for another living thing?
Do I have the resources (for example, access to a yard, dog walker, or pet sitter) to responsibly leave my dog home alone when I go to work or take vacation? How will I train the dog–sign up for classes, hire a trainer, or train her myself? Will I be responsible for my dog when my kids are not–or when they go off to school or move out? And most importantly, will I do these things, not just today and next month, but for years to come?
Of course it’s a good idea to find out as much as you can from the shelter or rescue group as well. Ideally, you’ll have met the dog and will already know a bit about her personality and background.
Still, it’s important to ask: How old is the dog? Has she been there a long time, and if so, why? What is the dog’s medical history? What about her psychological history? Has she been mistreated in any way? What else is important to know about this dog (for example, is she fearful around cats or does she eat tennis balls)? Does she guard her food or her toys?
Adopting a dog is a huge commitment and should not be taken lightly. This animal depends on you for her very survival. But like most things that require time, energy, and work, sharing your life with a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have.