What to Ask When Adopting a Dog (Top 3 Questions)

If you have recently been thinking of getting a new dog, have you considered all the options available? The obvious choice people make, when considering a new dog, is to go to a specialised breeder. A good dog breeder will be able to sell you a puppy which has been checked for genetic problems, and diseases etc. and will very often provide you with a high-quality pedigree dog that should be free from any issues that can plague some animals. This is ideal for a lot of people, but of course, will come at a price. There is an alternative; adopting a puppy or an adult dog. Now you need to know what to ask when adopting a dog.

Many dogs are without homes, living in animal shelters or humane societies. These animals are often a victim of circumstance. Either an owner has died, or an elderly person cannot cope anymore. Sadly though no fault of their own, they have ended up homeless. Adopting a dog may be a great way to offer a loving home to one of these animals.

A lot of people are concerned that they may end up with an unhealthy dog or one which may be aggressive if they get one from a shelter. Most animal shelters will check a dog for good health and pleasant temperament, so if there are any problems, you will be told about them. Also, a lot of shelters offer in-house training to increase the chances of a dog finding a new home.

What to Ask When Adopting a Dog

Adopting a Dog

The best way to go about adopting a dog is to pay a visit to your nearest animal shelter. Explain to the staff there, what kind of dog would suit you and your family. Bear in mind that if you have tiny children, getting a large dog may not be a good idea. Similarly, if you have an apartment, maybe think about getting a small dog which doesn’t require vast amounts of exercise. A bit of forethought before you arrive will make finding the perfect dog for you that much easier.

Taking on a rescue dog is a huge undertaking because they come with history, and you will only know what their previous owners said when they handed them over to the rescue centre, and what the staff have observed. Remember, kennels are not conducive to seeing a dog at his best.

Typically, you will be expected to register an expression of interest, have a home visit, then complete the adoption paperwork, all conditional on your chosen dog being deemed fit and well by the vet.

Rescue Centre Rules

There may be rules at the rescue centre such as not rehoming where there are children under five (apart from puppies), and bigger dogs usually only go to families with children over 10 years old, or teenagers. Anyone who works cannot be out for more than four hours a day, and you may be turned down if the rehoming staff don’t think you can meet the dog’s exercise and environmental needs.

I think animal rescue centres have to walk a difficult path between getting as many animals rehomed as possible, and making the process so rigorous and inflexible that they don’t rehome very many animals. If it’s too easy, animals are returned or subjected to a less than suitable life. Even using a thorough procedure can result in animals being returned for some incredible reasons, such as asking to swap your little, elderly dog (adopted only months previously) for something bigger and younger.

Rehoming can fail for lots of valid reasons too; it’s not a precise science and requires experienced staff who are able to use their judgement and do the best they can for every animal, taking all the information they have into consideration.

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Looking to Adopt a Dog?

My personal advice to anyone looking to adopt a dog is as follows:

  • Find a rescue centre (or two) that you like and trust. A recommendation is a good way to find one or visit several and stick with the one(s) you like best. Find out what their adoption processes involve and make sure you can commit to the conditions imposed.
  • Visit regularly, talk to staff, and, if possible, volunteer before looking for a dog.
  • Keep an open mind regarding breed and type; rule nothing out and rule nothing in.
  • Be aware that if you already have other pets, that will limit your options, as not all dogs will be able to share their space or their humans amicably. A dog that has had a tough time may need to be the sole recipient of all your love and attention.
  • Be very clear about the needs of your new dog, and totally honest and realistic, both with yourselves and the rescue staff, about how much exercise you are prepared to give him. Cold, dark, wet winter mornings will test the best of us. Be sure you’re up for it.
  • Be patient and take your time; this is not something that can be rushed and shouldn’t have a deadline. The right dog will find you when you’re ready; they know, you know!

A Second Chance After Christmas

Many of you will have heard the infamous saying, “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas”. It’s a sentiment that applies to people who purchase a puppy as a “special gift” for a loved one over the festive period. Unfortunately, this results in many Christmas puppies being abandoned at a rescue centre or left on the streets to defend for themselves. The number of abandoned animals each year, especially between New Year and Easter, is always incredibly high as cute puppies grow older and owners realise how much care is needed.

If you’re looking to adopt a dog, always make sure yo do your research first. There are so ay dogs in rescue centres and shelters just waiting for their perfect family to turn up and find them. Rescues come in all shapes and sizes, all breeds and ages. You might take home a cute puppy who has lots to learn or you might fall in love with a delightful golden oldie who still has so much to offer.

Rescuing a dog is an incredibly rewarding experience. Often, rescue dogs have faced adversity and come through the other side, but are still loving and just need that chance. Though some may have their quirks, the majority of the dogs are in rescue centres through no fault of their own.

Adopting a Rescue Dog; the First Seven Days

When you bring your new dog home, try and imagine things from her perspective. Your new pet has probably been through a lot in the past, so bringing her to yet another different home may well be overwhelming. The best thing to do is keep her on a leash at first, and gradually introduce her to your home, letting her sniff each room until she has got a feel for her new surroundings. Also, take her to relieve her bladder outside if she has been on a long car journey with you. Whether your dog is house trained is definitely a question of what to ask when adopting a dog.

Adopting a Dog

Once she has settled down, allow her to walk freely off the leash inside your home (not outside, off the leash yet). This will give her a chance to find ‘her’ spot. By this I mean her favourite place. We all have a favourite spot where we like to go, dogs are no different. If you have bought a dog bed or blanket for your new arrival, this may be the place to put it. She will naturally go to that spot, so having a comfortable new bed there will help her settle in.

Your new dog may be very quiet for the first few days but don’t worry, this is part of the settling in process. After a short while, your dog will be fully settled in as a new member of the family.

Adopting from an animal shelter is a great way to get a new companion and an excellent idea to make a new and happy future for your dog.

Adopting a Protection Dog

A recently asked question on adopting a protection dog:

“My good friend, who is actually a dog trainer offered me his five-year-old Belgian Malinois for adoption. He has been trained as a protection dog, so he can guard his master, bite on command, release the bite on command, and stay until released. He has won a trophy for third place in Level 1 protection in a dog competition. I have two dogs at present; a one-year-old and a nine-month-old; both are female Labradors, obedience trained and not neutered.

I would like to adopt this new dog, and I know I can definitely take care of him. Do you think he will accept me after being my friend’s favourite dog for five years? My friend assures me that he can undoubtedly transfer the loyalty of the dog to me. He is seen as a fierce dog when in competition but tranquil when outside of the training ring. In fact, my friend has brought the dog to my house, and I know of several occasions when the dog has been off-leash. He is, unfortunately, giving him up simply because he wants to replace him with a much younger dog.

Adopting a Dog

Should I take up this offer?”

My answer:

“Yes, it is true, the dog will transfer his loyalty to you. However, here are two significant issues you should consider before adopting this dog.

Adopting a Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois, (especially one which is bred and trained for bite work and protection dog sports), will require a lot of work to learn how to handle him. You’re going to need a lot of training, one-on-one style, to successfully integrate this dog into your life. How much work is required is one of the questions what to ask when adopting a dog.

This breed is an extremely high maintenance dog. He will need lots of exercises and mental stimulation. Please take the time to recognise that adopting this dog will be a significant responsibility. If you actually decide to do it, and you are successful, you’ll have a fantastic companion. This breed is quite healthy, and you can be content in knowing that you own a champion as far as working dogs are concerned.

Adopting a Dog

Part of me has always wanted this type of dog. But my hectic lifestyle and dedication to the exercise and training requirements are something I do not have at this current point in my life. Please also make sure that he isn’t aggressive towards your other dogs before you decide to take ownership.”

Six Reasons to Adopt an Older Dog

  • They typically don’t need as much walking as younger dogs, making them ideal for anyone with reduced mobility.
  • They’re ideal if you think you can’t commit to adopting a dog for an entire lifetime, such as if you have plans to move or travel in the next five to ten years.
  • What you see is what you get; unlike with a puppy, an older dog already has a distinct personality and character so there’s unlikely to be any surprises later on.
  • They’re typically calmer, easier to manage and less time-intensive.
  • They’re already socialised and housetrained.
  • You may be saving or changing their life by giving them a loving home.

Agility Training with Your Adopted Dog

Spending time training your Belgian Malinois can be very rewarding and fun for you both. It helps build a stronger bond between dog and owner, which is essential for the happiness of both parties. There are many different types of training that you can choose to do with your Belgian Malinois; one such idea is agility training.

This is the process of teaching your dog to navigate an obstacle course. If the practice is successful, your pet should be able to do it by only listening to and obeying your commands. During an event, the dogs are timed and to win, must not make any mistakes and have the fastest time. It takes a lot of practice for a dog to be successful at this, but can be quite fun for both dog and trainer. This activity is especially useful for a Belgian Malinois because it undoubtedly gives them a good outlet for all that extra energy this breed seems to have.

Dog Agility Training Equipment

Most experts recommend not to start agility training until your dog is at least one year old; at least not to enter in a competition before that age. Many owners who train their dogs to participate in these events will purchase their own equipment to have at home so that they can begin preparing the dog at an earlier age. Agility training equipment can be quite expensive, so some trainers prefer to build their own obstacles.

Instructions can be found either online and in books which should be available in your local library or bookstore. Owners should be conscientious about watching the dog for any signs of injury. Occasionally working on agility training while the puppy is still growing, will put a lot of strain on joints and bones that are not fully conditioned yet. It is recommended to have your dog cleared by a veterinarian before beginning any type of agility training.

What to Ask When Adopting a Dog

The dog should also understand and obey basic commands before beginning any other type of training. Any training helps the dog and owner to build a better relationship with each other, allowing them to work well together as time goes on. You should also work through any behaviour or aggression issues your Belgian Malinois may have before considering agility training. The results will be less satisfactory and take longer to achieve if the dog is also working through other problems.

Dog Agility Training for Beginners

Most Belgian Malinois owners who are serious about their dog competing in agility competitions will enrol him in a training class, at least to help teach him the basics, then work with the dog on their own to enhance what he has learned. Being in a class will also help your dog work on his socialisation, which will make him behave better around other dogs. Belgian Malinois tend to be aggressive when near other dogs, particularly those of the same sex.

So, what to ask when adopting a dog? The most important thing to remember is no matter what type of training you do with your Belgian Malinois, you both should enjoy it. Spending time together will help build a better bond, leading to a lasting relationship. Whether you want your dog to compete or not, the benefits for both you and the dog are many.

Good luck to anyone thinking about adopting a dog, which, as far as I am concerned, is a better option than buying a puppy. Your new friend will enhance your life in ways you never imagined!

10 thoughts on “What to Ask When Adopting a Dog (Top 3 Questions)”

  1. Hi, Diane,

    I think adopting a dog is a big step and shouldn’t be taken lightly. A dog is not an object you just purchase and give away. We need to teach our kids about that. Owning a dog implies a big responsibility.

    Adopting a dog is no much different from adopting a baby. There is a long process with requirements that have to be met.

    You provided some excellent pointers. We need to be aware of several things. Do we have enough space in the house? Will we take good care of the dog? How much money will I need for its food, vaccines, etc? We need to take the financial factor into consideration. It’s irresponsible not to do so.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi – thanks for visiting my website and leaving a comment. You are quite right that owning a dog is a big responsibility. All the best, Diane

  2. For me, I think the first question you need to ask urself is why do you need a dog; do you need it for security purposes or as a pet, And this question would lead to the next question what kind or specie of door do you adopt… And then you would need to ask if you would be getting a puppy a young adult or a full-blown adult.

    • Hi – thank you for taking the time to comment on my article. Deciding why you actually want a dog is a key question to ask yourself before considering adoption. All the best, Diane

  3. I am a dog owner and have a Japanese Spitz which is just fantastic. Your article about getting a dog via adoption is great. You have very good advice on what to consider before going to the step of getting a dog. It carries a lot of responsibility. It is another “person” that will move into your home that has their own needs to be catered for. 

    Your advice on which type of dog and the size of the dog are two very important factors to consider. If the dog is too big, you might be facing the need to switch your car into something bigger, which is an extra expense you might not have considered.

    Further, the requirement for physical activities and mental stimulation differs between the different breeds. So the importance of choosing a dog that fits into your own physical regime and availability for the dog is essential.

    The advice to get a puppy toy instead of a real dog, at least until you find out what dog to look for, is very sound advice.


    • Hi Roy – thank you for visiting my website and kindly leaving a comment. I am pleased you found my advice useful. All the best, Diane

  4. Thank you, Diane, for your informative post on an animal – specifically – dog adoption. It is an unknown how the dog has previously been treated and how it responded to that treatment. It is well to be cautious when bringing a rescue dog into a home with small children. The animal shelter can give you some direction as to what the dog’s personality is like. It is a great thing to provide a loving home to a 4 legged friend. Thank you for addressing this in your post.

    • Hi – thank you for visiting my site and responding. There is nothing better than a 4 legged friend to greet you every day! All the best, Diane

  5. Thank you so much for sharing with us a wonderful and informative article. The main theme of this article is what to ask when adopting a dog. It is truly incredible that you have illustrated this topic so well in your article. I have learned a lot by reading your article and gained a lot of knowledge about it. Everyone loves a pet dog but it needs proper care. If you don’t take proper care of your pet dog, you will face various problems. So when adopting a pet dog, you need to know exactly what to ask and how to take it.

    Finally, I enjoyed reading your article and so I’d like to share your article in my Facebook group if you are happy with me.


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