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If you are looking to add a new dog or cat to your family, shelters are filled with wonderful furry friends just waiting for their forever, loving homes.  Each day dogs and cats of every breed, size, temperament, age, and activity level leave shelters and become members of loving families.  Still, thousands of dogs and cats watch them go, waiting for the day when they will be adopted too. 

With so many animals to choose from, finding a dog (or cat) who is the right fit for your family and lifestyle can be a bit overwhelming. If you’re searching for a new dog to add to your family please keep the following in mind:

Some dogs need more experienced owners. Others need a lot of room to run or a fenced-in backyard. Still, other dogs do best with another canine companion in the house to show them the lay of the land. 

 Here are some tips on choosing the right shelter dog for you. 

Consider Adoption Costs

As you factor in all the decisions that go into adding a new dog to your family, don’t forget to consider costs.  The initial adoption fee can cost a few hundred dollars, depending on the shelter, and whether or not the dog has already been spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped

Annual costs may also begin to add up.  Don’t forget you will need to buy beds, crates, leashes, toys, food bowls, and other essentials before you bring your new pup home.  

Dont Rely on First Impressions

You can’t often get a good feel for a dog’s real personality in a shelter or kennel environment.  Some dogs are overstimulated by the number of other animals and noise in the shelter environment. 

This may cause some dogs to bark and jump excessively as if to say, “pick me! Pick me!”  

At the same time, don’t overlook the quieter dogs.  They may not appear to be vying for your attention, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make great pets.  Calmer dogs may just be shy and overwhelmed. They are still well worth your consideration.  

Talk to Shelter Staff

Take the time to talk with the shelter staff since they spend time with the dogs daily. The people who care for shelter dogs day in and day out know the dogs the best.

 Better yet, visit the shelter frequently so the shelter staff can get to know you and your family.  They will likely know which dogs might be the best match with your family’s lifestyle.    

Choose a Dog that Fits with your Lifestyle

You may have always dreamed of owning a specific type of dog, but ultimately you and your new fur friend will be much happier if you pick the dog that is the best fit for you and your family. 

The dog’s size, exercise needs, energy level, friendliness, and compatibility with children and strangers should all be considerations when adding a pup to the household. 

If you have always imagined yourself owning an active Border Collie, but you live in an apartment, you may want to look into dogs that are not as high energy.  

Age Differences

While they are adorable, puppies aren’t the best choice for every family.  They require a lot of work and training. For at least the first year, you and your family can expect to put the puppy’s needs at the center of your schedule. 

 Before deciding to adopt a puppy, you and your family may want to consider the following: 

  • Is someone home during the day to train and socialize the puppy?
  • Who will be responsible for taking the puppy out in the morning and during the night?
  • Puppies need to be fed three to four times a day.
  • Puppies need to be taken outside immediately after eating or drinking.
  • Puppies will have accidents inside while they are being housebroken.  This means there will be a mess to clean up.  

Many older dogs have already lived in homes and have some basic training.  Additionally, older dogs can be left alone for longer periods because they don’t require the constant supervision and attention that puppies do. 

Ask to Visit with the Dog Outside the Kennel

Once you have found a few dogs that interest you, ask the shelter staff if you can meet them outside their kennels.  Ideally, you should be able to visit with the dog in a separate, quiet visiting room. You should also be able to take the dog on leash walks. 

If the shelter does not permit this, cross the dog (and possibly the shelter) off your list.  

Visit More than One Shelter

 Although it’s easy to fall in love with those dog eyes peering at you from behind the kennels, you should make an effort to visit a few shelters before committing to a dog.  Compare the shelters. Are they clean? Is the staff friendly and willing to help? Do they let you visit several times and get to know the dogs? 

Remember, you are adopting a family member who will be with you for life.  Be thoughtful in your decision. You will make many years of memories with your new best friend. 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.