How to Know Which Dog to Adopt at the Shelter

Posted on 09/26/2011

Millions of dogs are waiting for their forever homes at shelters around the country. October is the American Humane Association’s Adopt-a-Dog month so it’s a great time to bring one home. Here are tips for making sure you adopt the best pet for your family.

Decide What You’re Looking For - Do you want an exercise buddy? A sidekick for your child? A companion for a senior? Knowing what you want will help you become more focused in your shelter search.

Know Your Canine-ality - You may be drawn to their furry faces, but every dog has its own personality. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals developed the “Meet Your Match” program to help adopters find their perfect pet. It helps you pinpoint an animal you really click with. Pets are color coded by shelter staff based on their energy levels and adopters are evaluated and assigned a color as well. When you visit an adoption facility you can use this personality program narrow your search for dogs best suited for your lifestyle.

Research Breeds - Can you handle a dog that sheds? Does your pup need to be good around children? Different breeds of dogs have different personalities so researching them before your trip to the shelter will give you a general guideline to follow. Checkout the Matchup quiz at for help. Just keep in mind a dog’s personality can mean far more than pedigree.

Ask for Further Details - Usually at a shelter each dog comes with an information card that includes details about their health, temperament and history. Check with shelter staff to see if there is additional data about the dog. The more you know about its personality and training the more prepared you’ll be to make the best choice. And it also means the pooch is less likely to end up back at the shelter because they weren’t the right fit for your home.

Drop the Guilt - Walking through an animal shelter, seeing all of those loving faces waiting for homes can really pull at your heart strings. But try not to let guilt overwhelm you. Remind yourself that this is a happy occasion and that you are going to leave with the best dog for your family. Although you can’t rescue all of them, you are making a difference.

By Alison Storm

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