The holiday season is right around the corner. Oftentimes, people think about adopting a pet this time of year. Adopting a pet from an animal shelter is a great way to find your new companion. Having worked in animal shelters since 1995, I can tell you that an informed adopter is the best kind of adopter. Here are a few tips that you should think about, and help you become an informed adopter, before you decide to rescue a dog.

Lisa Acho Remorenko

Research different breeds before choosing a dog. You may have your heart set on a particular breed of dog, but unless the breed matches your lifestyle, it won’t be a good fit. For example, after seeing the movie 101 Dalmatians, people purchased the breed impulsively, though new owners weren’t aware of the high-energy dog’s needs. This resulted in animal shelters and rescue organizations being inundated with Dalmatians once the dogs became too hard for the owners to handle.

But if you lead an active lifestyle, you might be okay with a Dalmatian. You might also consider adopting other breeds that enjoy exercising such as hound dogs, herding dogs, or working breeds.

On the other hand, if you lead a more sedentary lifestyle, you might want to consider a senior pet. These dogs are typically calmer and less energetic than a puppy. Plus they are already housetrained.

Obviously it’s important to spend time with the individual dog you are considering adopting to make sure that it’s a good match, since temperaments can vary.

Make sure the whole family meets the dog. If you have children, make sure they accompany you when you are choosing a dog to adopt. You want a dog that doesn’t just put up with children, you want one that is happy and wants to be around your children. You also want to make sure that your child is comfortable with the new dog you are thinking of adopting.

Be ready to part with your time. Adopting a dog, especially a puppy, takes a lot of work and should not be entered into lightly. If you are not ready to sacrifice 30 minutes each morning and late evening for walks, as well as a few night wakings (if you have a puppy), you may not be ready for a dog.

Most dogs are not fond of isolation, and they want to spend time with you. So make sure you are ready to make that commitment. If you are thinking of adopting a puppy, be ready for a very needy creature for the first several months of their life. After all, puppies are babies.

Several years ago, one of my friends adopted a puppy at the same time that my son was born. I think she was getting up during the night more than I was! Dogs can also live 10 to 15 years, depending on their breed. Make sure you are ready to make that lifetime commitment as well.

Dogs can be expensive. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, on average, dogs cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 per year. In addition to food, treats, toys, training, and routine veterinary care, there are also pet sitters, dog walkers, and unexpected veterinary care that can be costly.

Dogs become part of the family and are totally worth it. Informed adopters know there are many factors to consider before adopting a dog. But once you adopt a dog, they inevitably become part of your family. And studies have shown that people who own pets have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and less stress, depression, and loneliness than those who don’t own pets. After you have a dog in your life, you will wonder how you ever lived without one.

Don’t forget, if you don’t see what you’re looking for at your local animal shelter, you can still rescue an animal by going through


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