Adopting A Shelter Dog? Make Sure You Ask These Six Questions

adopting a shelter dog

According to the ASPCA, approximately 6.5 million pets enter U.S. animal shelters every year, and over half of those are dogs. We have known for some time that there are too many puppies being sold by amateur breeders – and not enough homeless dogs being adopted and raised in good homes with loving families.

As a true dog lover, it is worth considering a visit to your local animal shelter instead of purchasing a puppy from a pet store. Whilst many families prefer to have a puppy raised from birth, there are thousands upon thousands of well mannered, healthy dogs that need a home like yours.

Misconceptions about shelter animals

Many of the dogs and puppies living in animal shelters are there for a variety of reasons, not just because they were victims of sickness or violence. The common perception seems to be that dogs from animal shelters are tainted. Whilst there are inevitably some pups that have had problems in the past with abuse or have developed survival instincts from living on the streets, these animals can be trained to perfection in most cases (see our article on the major benefits of training your dog).

More commonly, the pets in shelters are there for reasons outside of their control, and can sometimes be due to the circumstances of the owner. for example:

– Their owner may have passed away
– The family circumstances may have changed (a new baby)
– Their owner may have moved and could not bring the dog along

Like humans, every dog’s experience and history is unique. In addition, every dog shelter is different and the levels of service provided can vary. If you are considering adopting a dog from a shelter, there are questions you should ask to establish information about the background of the animal and the time it has spent in the shelter.

How to interview the animal shelter

adopt a shelter dog tips

Like any service or product, animal shelters are there to provide a specific function. As a consumer, it is your right and responsibility to ask the right questions to inform your decision-making process.

There should be specific questions asked which are directed straight to the animal shelter that you are considering adopting a dog from. These important questions should always include:

Are the dogs fed more than than just food and water?
– Does the animal shelter place an emphasis on socialization?
– Does the shelter allow the animals to move around and interact with the other

The answers provided by the animal shelter can help guide you as to whether it would be a sensible decision to adopt a puppy from this establishment. Bringing home a puppy who has been crammed up in a small cage during its entire stay at the shelter can certainly induce traumatic anxiety disorders, stress, and fear of the outside world.

If the shelter does indeed allow their animals to socialize and spend time outside of their cage, ask the staff how long they are allowed to enjoy this free time and how much human contact is received.

Additional questions to ask

There are further questions you can ask to determine the suitability of adopting a dog from the shelter. You should ask if the shelter offers any additional services to help after you bring home a new dog. Other questions you can ask include:

– Does the shelter provide pamphlets or brochures that explain the best way to handle an adopted dog or puppy?
– Are there tips in the form of a newsletter or website information that can help your adopted dog adjust easier?
– Can the shelter refer you to a qualified dog trainer with a specialization in shelter animals?

The questions in this article are a great starting point and the answers from your shelter will help you to identify the best path forward for you, your family and any pets you decide to adopt.

Hopefully, by finding out the right information and understanding as much as you can about a shelter dog and its living environment, you could become one of the 44% of owners who adopted their dog from a shelter!

Further information

At Highland Canine Training LLC, we promote the adoption of shelter animals through our Second Chance Program.

If you have any questions related to the adoption of a dog or if you need some training tips for your recently adopted pooch, please give us a call at 1.866.200.2207 or email us at