6 questions to always ask when adopting a dog, according to veterinarians

It’s incredibly rewarding to have a four-legged best friend, and adoption is a great way to help a dog in need find a home. But getting a dog is also a big responsibility, and in order to find your perfect match, you’ll need some additional information.

“There are a few key questions you should ask a shelter or shelter before committing to adopting a dog because, at the end of the day, adopting a dog is a big deal,” sabrina kongDVM at WeLoveDoodles, tells Better life. “You need to know that you are 100% ready and have everything you need to take care of a new fur baby.”

There is no limit to the number of questions you can ask, and in fact, Linda Simon, MVB, MRCVS, Consulting Veterinarian for FiveBarks, recommends asking for as many as needed. Adoption counselors are usually willing and ready to provide you with the information you need, and if a shelter or relocator isn’t willing to answer your questions, that’s actually a red flag, she says.

Reputable animal shelters want to make sure they send every dog ​​home with the right owner, so coming prepared with a list of questions can make the adoption process much easier. Read on to find out what Kong, Simon and their fellow vets say you should ask about before adopting a dog.

READ THIS NEXT: The 7 best dogs for beginners, say vets.

hedgehog94 / Shutterstock

Just like with friends and other people, we want to get along with our dogs. And just like people, dogs have unique personalities and behavioral tendencies that you’ll want to become familiar with.

“A dog’s personality will tell you right away if he will get along with you, your family, or other pets you may have.” Alex Raven, veterinarian at HappiestDog, explains. “Always ask the shelter about his temperament and try to visit the dog several times before making a decision. [so you can] get a good idea.”

According Georgina Ushi PhilipsDVM, consulting veterinarian and writer for NotABully.org, shelters will also often administer a formal behavioral assessment, such as SAFER, Match-Up II, Assess-a-Pet, or a personalized test.

“You can call the shelters you plan to visit ahead of time and find out if they use any of these programs, and then familiarize yourself with it before you go,” says Phillips. “Although there are some differences, the purpose of these programs is to test a dog’s reaction to various situations.”

dog playing with child
alexei_tm / Shutterstock

Some dogs are suspicious of unfamiliar people, and if a dog has not been exposed to children, he may be scared when he first encounters them. As such, Phillips recommends you ask the shelter directly how a dog interacts with children.

“Even if you don’t have kids or aren’t planning on having any, this question is key to understanding how your dog will function in the world,” she explains. “Children can be unpredictable and having so much information about how your dog will interact with them before an interaction occurs is important.”

You can also ask how the dog behaves around strangers and other dogs, as this will also let you know if you will need to do a little more work with your new pet.

“Answering these questions will help you know if the dog needs additional training, which of course takes a lot of time and not everyone may be up for the challenge,” says Kong.

READ NEXT: 5 low-maintenance dogs you barely need to walk.

veterinary examiner dog
Seventy-four / Shutterstock

Asking about a dog’s medical history and current condition is another crucial question, so be sure to ask about vaccinations, allergies, and whether they’ve been spayed or spayed.

“This is especially important when the shelter will not be funding any medical care, [as] you may have to deal with hefty medical bills down the line,” says Simon. “A dog with itchy skin, for example, can mean you have to visit the vet every few months for expensive medication. Things like this should always be discussed in detail, so you know exactly what you’re up to.”

You should ask the shelter for complete medical records, as well as information on who took the dog’s exams and what qualifications they hold.

“Not all exams will be done by a veterinarian, which is fine, but you’ll want to know that ahead of time,” says Phillips. “Certain conditions can have lifelong impacts, and it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into before adopting.”

dog at home with family
Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Often, dogs will be placed with temporary caregivers, or adoptive parents, who provide direct care while a puppy waits to be adopted. According to Kong, you’ll want to know if the dog you’re interested in has been placed in foster care, as former adoptive parents can be a good point of contact.

“Shelters can use foster parents to help a dog recover from major surgery, to review their behavior, or simply because there isn’t enough space at the shelter,” Kong says. “In many cases, you may be able to speak with the adoptive parent. Most are eager to talk about the animals in their care and would happily answer your specific questions!”

For more pet tips straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

man walking with dog in the park
juninatt / Shutterstock

Unfortunately, shelter dogs have been abandoned for one reason or another. It’s not always negative, but it’s important that you know a bit of the backstory, vets say.

“Some dogs have had normal, happy lives, while others may have come from abusive or neglectful homes,” Crow said. Better life. “Knowing this information is important because it can affect how a dog reacts in certain situations.”

For example, some dogs may be abandoned if they are excessive barkers and suffer from separation anxiety, Simon says. This can be difficult if you have a busier lifestyle and spend hours away from home. Other dogs may have ended up at the shelter because a previous owner couldn’t get them enough exercise, and you’ll need to consider whether you’re up to the task of handling that responsibility.

teach the dog to sit
Christian Muller / Shutterstock

One of the benefits of adopting an older dog (or at least, not a puppy), is that they may have received some training, including toilet training, basic commands, and socialization. .

“Some dogs are older and have a lot of training under their belt, while others may have been neglected, not housebroken or know how to behave around others,” Crow explains. “If they’re not trained well, that means you’ll have to commit to doing it, which can take up a lot of your time and energy.”

According to Crow, you need to consider your level of commitment and how much time you can realistically devote to training a new dog. If you can’t meet a certain dog’s needs, he’s the wrong person, he says.