Dog Adoption Considerations

You have made your decision. You want a dog. And you care that there are thousands of dogs out there that need a home so you want to adopt. These are some issues to consider before you jump in.

1. The most important aspect of choosing a dog is choosing the right dog personality for you and your lifestyle.

adoptionShaun Ellis, a wolf researcher from the UK, recommends that in most cases a numbers dog personality will be the most appropriate because that type of personality will require less training and integrate more smoothly into your family pack. He describes the main personality types as being Alpha or dominant, Beta or the pack enforcer, Tester or ensurer that pack members can do their jobs, and Numbers which are various roles that support the pack. He suggests if you are choosing a puppy from a litter that you shake a set of keys and the puppies can line up in their natural order allowing you to choose from the fourth or greater ranks. (Shaun Ellis) If you are adopting an adult dog look for a dog that is calm and does not exhibit undesirable behaviors in the Kennel. It has been my family’s experience that the personality of rescue dogs can change dramatically within 6 months of adoption. If a dog has any type of undesirable behaviors at the shelter those behaviors will probably get magnified after they get acclimated to their new home.

2. Are you adopting a puppy or an adult dog?

If the dog is an adult chances are there is a reason why that dog is up for adoption. Heidi had food allergies and we had to deal with that. Thumper wasn’t house trained and it was extra work to train him properly. If you are adopting a puppy it is less likely that the adoption is necessary due to some issue with the dog but it may be harder to gauge the personality type of the puppy as opposed to an adult dog. There are risks and reward for each action.

3. How skilled are you as a dog Pack Leader?

Is this your first dog or are you an Experienced Pack Leader with several successful dogs in your pack history. Bad Behaviors often come from from the improper leadership of the pack leader as opposed to from the dog. If you are just starting out you need to choose a dog personality that will be forgiving enough to allow the dog to learn while you are learning to be a good pack leader. Heidi is submissive enough that our experience with her has allowed us to grow into being good pack leaders. If you are a skilled pack leader then perhaps you should try and adopt a dog in more of a precarious position. That dog needs extra help and will be a challenge but you are in a better position to help because of your skill and experience then someone who is just starting out on their pack journey.

4. Do you have children in your pack?

adoptionDogs are powerful animals with real instincts. They can do real damage even to adults. Mixing an unbalanced dog unsupervised with small children can be a disaster waiting to happen. Often there are news stories of dogs attacking children for no apparent reason. In reality the Dog is disciplining a fellow pack member for improper behavior. In most cases a submissive, low to medium energy dog is most appropriate for families with small children. Even then the child needs to be trained even more than the dog in the proper way to behave. For example a child must be trained never to attempt to take a toy away from a dog or to approach the dog when they are eating. The dog needs to be carefully supervised when interacting with the child. If the dog exhibits any negative behavior like a growl or raising the lip (Heidi did this once with my niece when she got to close during meal time) you need to immediately correct the dog to communicate that the behavior is unacceptable. Then reinforce with your child the correct actions to take. The reason these unfortunate events take place is that the child and the dog do not understand each other. They must be taught mutual communication and respect and they will have many years of happy experiences. (Shaun Ellis)

5. Where do you live?

Do you live in a city high rise condo with limited living space but fortunately spacious parks? Do you live in the country with acres of property? Do you live in a suburban community? Do you live in Austin, Texas? Do you live in New England? Ask yourself questions like these and use them to help you pick out a breed that suitable to your situation. If you live in a city perhaps a small breed like a Shiba Inu may be appropriate due to space constraints. If you live in the Suburbs a low to moderate energy dog may be best. If you live in a northern climate a longer haired breed might be better acclimated to the harsh winters. If you live in Austin definitely look at a short haired dog that will be able to cope with the heat.

As a future responsible pack leader you are responsible for the well being of your new Dog. Consider the various issues and trade-offs as you select the dog most appropriate for you and your situation. Good Luck. You will be a hero to a dog when you adopt.

James Aitken and Shaun Ellis (2012 May 12) Understanding Your Dog [Web Video] Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *