Don't Just Get Any Dog
Welcome to Part 3 of the "How to Properly Adopt" Series. This will be the final post of this series, and of the blog for a while, as I am leaving on deployment in a few days. I will try to post periodically while I'm away but it might be a while. Be sure to follow the hashtag #adventureswithbeermuffs on Facebook and Instagram to see where we end up on our journey!
Once you have established a self care routine for yourself, as well as determined that you are emotionally stable enough to care for a dog, there is a little more research that you need to do. This research will involve dog breeds, temperament, personality, level of care and exercise needs.
Dog breeds are as different and diverse as humans are. Just like we don't get along with every human that crosses our path, the chances that we will get along with every dog we meet are pretty low. And, just like every human, all dogs come with their own story, quirks, strengths and needed areas of improvement. There are so many websites out there that literally list every single dog breed out there, with both brief and in-depth descriptions of what to expect from that breed. It can be as simple as performing a Google search, or you could go to your local bookstore or library and pick up a book on dog breeds. Here is one website that I like to use: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/ I like this website because it has filters that you can use to narrow dogs down by characteristics, energy level, barking level, coat maintenance and more! It just makes it a little easier to narrow down on what you are looking for as sifting through all the breeds can be overwhelming! Typically, if you are adopting from a shelter, pure breeds are difficult to come across. However, knowing the breeds can give you a good idea what to expect if you come across a mix.
Temperament and personality will be the first thing that you will want to research. For the purposes of these blog posts, we are looking for a dog that will be a good companion, affectionate and loving, friendly, and easy to train. For the purposes of mental health recovery a dog that will supplement a healthy lifestyle would be ideal. So while researching, I would stay away from dogs that can be difficult to train, aggressive towards strangers or dogs that prefer to be away from humans. Of course, you could train any dog to do what you need it to do, just understand that some breeds may take more time and effort to get them where you want them to be. Be sure to account for how much time you are willing to devote DAILY to accomplishing this.
Level of care refers to things like coat maintenance, shedding, and medical concerns. Be sure to research these things as well, as your schedule will highly dictate the concerns that you are able to address. For example, if you lead a busier lifestyle, you may want to look into breeds that have a low maintenance coat that only requires an occasional bath and brushing. Also, along the same lines, understand that shedding will dictate how often you are cleaning your house of dog hair. My heelers have low maintenance coats, but MAN do they shed! I'm talking daily vacuuming! We finally invested in a Roomba and it was LIFE CHANGING. Health conditions are also another thing to look into. Certain breeds are more prone to develop certain medical conditions, which means more trips to the vet and possible additional expenses. Just be sure that you are able to financially support something should it happen. At bare minimum, you should be able to afford wellness checkups and required vaccinations yearly. Research local veterinarian offices to see what they charge so you can plan ahead with your budget.
Finally, level of activity will also narrow down the breeds you want to look for. Your daily activity will determine the level of activity of your dog. Now, be honest with yourself in this area. If you read the last blog post, establishing a daily exercise routine BEFORE you get a dog is going to be ideal. That way, the dog will just supplement your already active lifestyle. If you try to get a dog as a means to motivate yourself to exercise, you will quickly find yourself making excuses and blowing off the workouts. Take care of yourself first before you try to take care of a dog! That being said, take a look at the types of workouts you are already doing. If you frequently run and trail hike and spend a lot of time outdoors, an active dog may fit in great with your routine. If you're into more low impact type activities, just as going for short walks, swimming or yoga, you might look into a dog that may only require low to moderate activity. Maybe that morning walk may be all that dog needs to be happy and then naps the rest of the day.
Doing this research ahead of time will give you a good idea of the type of dog that will supplement your lifestyle. After you have completed the research and narrowed down your breeds, you are ready to start going to the shelters! Be sure to ask lots of questions when you get there to ensure that you are finding the right dog for you. Some shelters are very strict as to who they allow to adopt, and some even will come to your house to make sure the dog will be in the right environment. Keep that in mind as you make your visits.
So, this next part will be extremely difficult as I am one that also wants to take all the doggies home with me. If you find a dog that you like, DO NOT take it home right away. Spend some time with the dog at the shelter, ask shelter staff questions about the dog, and if possible, come back a few days later to adopt. So, this can be difficult, because we are worried that someone else will come along and take the dog home. It may or may not happen, and some shelters may be willing to work with you to help facilitate the adoption. It is always ideal to make a few visits with the same dog to develop some trust and familiarity. It can also help with the transition from the shelter to your home. Whatever you decide to do, understand that the dog may need some adjustment time to adapt to its new surroundings.
Once you get through all these steps and finally get your dog home with you, if possible, take a few days off work to help your new family member adjust. Taking some training classes will also help enforce that positive relationship between you and your new best friend.
Please be sure to comment or share if you enjoyed this post! The goal of Wags for Wellness is to continue to strengthen the bond between humans and dogs and any input or feedback is greatly appreciated! Be sure to follow Beer Muffs as he travels with me on this deployment and I will be sure to start things back up as soon as I return.
As always, Be Well and Wag On!