How to Choose the Right Shelter Dog

Finding the right shelter dog may take a little time, as there are a number of things you need to consider first. You might find it difficult to gauge a dog’s true personality when it is housed in a shelter, as the noisy and cramped conditions of the place may make it feel anxious and depressed. However, it is possible to find the perfect canine companion in an animal shelter that will fill your life with lots of love and happiness.

Visit more than one shelter

Before making any firm decisions on which dog to adopt, it is important to visit more than one shelter. This will give you a better idea of what dogs are available for adoption and enable you to narrow your choices down to around four dogs. It is best to make notes on each dog and then make more than one visit to the shelters concerned. Remember to keep a few feet away from each dog at first so that you can observe them carefully. Dogs that are sitting quietly and watching what is going on around them and those that are excited to see people will generally be the best options. Try to avoid picking any dogs that are cowering in the back of their kennels or lunging at anyone that goes by, as these dogs could prove to have severe behavioural issues. It is also better to make these initial shelter visits on your own before taking other family members, especially children, along with you. If you take other people with you at first, it may be too overwhelming for the dogs and may make it more difficult for you to make the right decisions.

Take a closer look at your shortlisted dogs

Once you have narrowed your search down to several dogs, it’s time to observe each one in more detail. Firstly, go up to the dogs and see how they behave towards you, then ask if you can go inside the kennel and interact with them. Your next step is to ask if you can take the dogs for a walk and see how they respond to you. If the dogs are friendly, happy to play, and behave well on the leash, then you have made some good choices – it may even end up being tricky to narrow your choice down to just one dog!

Ask important questions

It is also important to ask the people who run the shelters some questions. They may not know all the answers, but it could be helpful if they know at least some of them. Ask if they know why the dog is in the shelter, if it has any known medical problems, and what its temperament is like. The answers to these questions could prove to be helpful, as you may find out that one of the dogs you like only needs rehoming because its previous owner became too ill to look after it and that it is great with children. If a dog has a known medical condition, it could prove too costly to take on board.

Narrow down your choices to one dog

After some thorough research and soul-searching, you should hopefully be able to narrow your search down to one dog. It is then time to make a firm decision on whether you are going to take the dog home with you or not. Try taking the dog out for one more walk, and remember to take other family members along with you at this stage to see how the dog reacts to them. It is important to make sure that you are completely happy with your decision to adopt, as it could be more disruptive for the dog if you end up having to take it back to the shelter a few weeks later.

Arriving home

Once you arrive home with your new canine pal, remember that it is important to begin training straight away. Lots of patience and understanding will be required, as it could take your dog around six to eight weeks to adjust to its new home and show its true personality. Make sure that your dog gets into a routine as soon as possible by providing it with its own area to sleep and rest away from draughts and other members of the household.


You should now have more idea of what to look out for when choosing a shelter dog. It is also important to remember to choose a dog that will suit your lifestyle and the size of your home. Giving a shelter dog a new and loving home will hopefully be the best decision you ever made!

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