When most people see a dog, their eyes light up, and they get a happy smile on their face. Dogs are named "man's best friend" for a reason. It's because dogs are exceptional animals. They have an amazing ability and desire to form deep, loving bonds with humans.
But as much as humans love dogs, far too often, dogs end up in animal shelters, homeless. Shelter dogs are just as adorable as pet store dogs. They can be healthy, affectionate and may come with some challenges. Still, it's not the challenges that cause them to be homeless. Shelter dogs are usually homeless through no fault of their own. So let's help them out, adopt don't shop.
Why Dog Adoption Is Important
Every year approximately 3.1 million dogs enter animal shelters each year. About 2 million of them get adopted, 700,000 get reunited with their owner, and 390,000 are euthanized. (ASPCA
These numbers might seem overwhelming, but the great thing is that the number of dogs entering shelters every year and being euthanized is declining. And that is because more and more people are choosing to adopt a shelter dog.
When you adopt a shelter dog does three (3) remarkable things happen.
1. You provide a loving home for a deserving animal.
Dogs deserve to be loved and cared for. They deserve a home where they can play, relax, and build bonds. Your home could be a place for a dog to live out their best life with a family they love and who loves them. Pet adoption saves their life.
2. You free up space and resources for another animal in need.
Animal shelters everywhere are overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed. A lot of shelters rely on their volunteers to help run all the programs they might offer. And the further you move away from a city, the more challenges those shelters may face. Pet adoption allows shelters to keep space open for new animals that have been rescued.
3. You help stop the cruelty of mass breeding facilities.
As you can see from the numbers, there isn't a need for commercial pet-breeding facilities. There are enough homeless pets that need homes that there is no need to mass-produce dogs. Yet, thousands of commercial pet-breeding facilities and backyard breeders produce millions of animals for sale in pet stores and online ads throughout the country.
The puppies might be cute, but how these facilities do it is cruel. They repeatedly impregnate female dogs who spend their life in a cage without human companionship. Then, once they are no longer producing a new litter, they are killed.
Many times the puppies in these facilities suffer from health and behavioral problems. They are kept in crowded, unsanitary conditions. They don't receive adequate veterinary care and have little opportunity to exercise, play, or have positive interactions with people. Pet adoption helps stop the demand that created mass breeding facilities.
Benefits of Adopting a Dog from An Animal Shelter
Pet adoption can be a little more complicated than purchasing a dog online. It's because the shelter works hard to match the dog with the perfect owner.
1. You can save money.
When you adopt a dog from a shelter, you know the dog is up-to-date on medical exams and vaccinations and has probably been spayed or neutered. And the adoption fee you pay, which is usually minimal, goes right back to funding the shelter's programs.
2. You can get detailed information on the dog.
The longer the dog has been at the shelter, the more the staff and volunteers know the dog. Animal shelters provide detailed information about their history, medical needs, behavior, temperament, and dogs' good with kids and other pets.
Many shelters perform behavior assessments to help you understand any behavioral concerns that each individual dog may have. As the staff works with the dog and continues to learn more and watch the dog grow, they update the assessment. It's not always indicative of how the dog will behave in a home, but that's where many shelters will still work with you, even post-adoption.
What to Consider When Thinking About Adopting a Shelter Dog
Owning a dog might seem like the best idea ever. But before you jump the gun and go adopt a dog, make sure your lifestyle and personality are ready for a dog.
1. Why Do You Want a Dog?
It might seem like a silly question, but have you asked yourself why? So many people during the pandemic and quarantine rushed out to adopt a dog, but guess what? They didn't consider what dog ownership would be like once life opened back up. Remember, dogs can live 10, 15, even 20 years!
2. How much time do you really have?
Puppies and adult dogs both require attention, but puppies require more attention. How much time do you really have to exercise, train, and spend with a dog? Sit down and write out what your weekly schedule looks like. Then, determine how much of that can go to training and spending with your dog. If you are never home, getting a dog might not be the best option for you or them!
3. Do you have a budget for a dog?
Dogs require a lot of care, and that care can quickly add up. As a dog owner, you will be responsible for food, bedding, a collar, a harness, a dog crate, treats, toys, grooming, vet care, kennels, and emergency vet visits. So make sure that a dog is within your budget.
4. What kind of dog will fit in best with your lifestyle and in your house?
When you know your energy level, and what you want to do with your dog, you're a step closer to figuring out what kind of dog is best for you. Next, you need to determine the size of your home and yard. If you own your home, then you may have the perfect size space for any sized dog. But if you rent, you should probably check the policy on what pet restrictions they have. From that, determine if you want a small, medium, or large dog.
Then determine coat type. How much cleaning do you want to be doing? Some dogs shed a lot and need a lot of grooming. Are you looking for short-haired, curly, or even long-haired?
When you can determine the size and coat, it will help you narrow down the search for your perfect dog.
5. How much energy do you really have?
Different breeds have different personalities and exercise needs. One breed may work better with your lifestyle. So consider your energy level and even what kind of energy you want them to have. Are you a runner looking for a running partner? Or maybe, you like yard work and enjoy a dog who will just run around the yard and play. Or maybe, you want a lounger who follows you around the house and likes a slow walk around the block. Each of these varies on energy and will help determine what breed and are of dog work best for you.
6. Will you be a responsible pet owner?
A shelter dog doesn't arrive at your house perfectly trained and well-behaved. They might be an excellent dog, but as the new owner, you have to earn their trust, teach them boundaries, and train them to be the dog you want them to be.
It's essential to be sure you are willing to train your dog correctly and spend the time actually doing it.
7. Are you ready to give up spontaneity?
When you get that last minute text to go on a weekend trip, are you ready to say no if you don't have a place for your dog? Dog ownership can require saying goodbye to spontaneity at time. Whether that be a weekend getaway or an all-day trip out of town, your dog won't always be able to go with you. So no matter the length of trip you might go on, you'll need to find a reputable kennel or see if you have any friends or family who can dog sit!
8. Are you ready to patiently spend the first 3 months helping the dog adjust?
It's the 3-3-3 rule, a general guideline. Every dog is unique and will adjust differently. Give your dog space and allow them to go at their own pace.
The First 3 Days The Dog Is:
- Scared & unsure of what is going on
- Not comfortable enough to be himself/herself
- Not super hungry- may not want to eat or drink
- Quiet, shut down & want to curl up in the crate or hide under a table
- Testing boundaries
The First 3 Weeks The Dog Is:
- Starting to settle in
- Feels more comfortable
- Realizes this could be his/her forever home
- Figured out their environment
- Getting into a routine
- Letting their guard down & starts showing their real personality
- Maybe showing some behavior issues
After 3 Months The Dog Is:
- Finally completely comfortable in their new home
- Showing trust and bonds with the family
- Gaining a complete sense of security with the new family
- Set in a routine
Life is better with a dog, but it does require your time, patience, and love. It's a lot like having kids. This is hy many couples adopt dogs before having kids of their own! Dogs need you, and once you own a dog, you will realize how much you also need them.
If you give a dog everything they need, they will repay you with all the love, affection, and loyalty in the world.
And after reading this, if you decided you aren't quite ready for a dog, we commend you for making the right choice for you in your current life phase! But, it's not the only way you can make a dog's day. For example, you can visit your local animal shelter and see how you can volunteer. Maybe you can help them walk a dog, or perhaps their a dog who needs some one-on-one attention. You can also donate to the shelter and ask what their needs are to help out. Or purchase our dog treats to donate to a shelter dog!