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Adopting a New Puppy - Basics That You Should Know

If a dog is outright aggressive, he should not be adopted - no matter how cute he or she is! An aggressive dog should only be handled by professional trainers. These dogs can be dangerous and are not suitable as household pets.  If the dog is young, mild behavior problems can be fixed easily.

Observe the dog's behavior yourself. Does he track through feces, splash water out of his bowl? How are his "table manners"? Does he aggressively guard his food bowl? Does he have a good appetite or is he a finicky eater? How does he behave with other dogs sharing his run?

Ask if you can take the dog out on a leash. Does he walk nicely or pull and jump? Try some basic training exercises and see how the dog responds. Spend some time playing together. By interacting with him on a one-to-one basis you will learn a lot about the dog's willingness and his level of dominance or shyness. Shyness and dominance can be signs of abuse and neglect. Although a shy or dominant dog may still be an acceptable pet for the right home, the period of adjustment will be longer and will require more patience, love and ingenuity from you.

If a dog leaks urine when you greet or pet it, it is called submission urination. If you adopt this dog, be aware that the habit can usually be cured but requires time and patience. It is not a housebreaking problem but a reflection of the dog's submission to you.

The dog's physical health is also very important. Observe if the dog coughs or sneezes. The eyes should be clear and without discharge. The nose should be free of mucus and the dog should breathe freely and easily. He should stand and move effortlessly. The coat should be healthy and shiny. Look for areas of hair loss, sores, scabs and redness. Check the ears for black debris, which could indicate ear mites or a bacterial infection. Head shaking or rubbing the ears is also an indication of ear problems. Does the urine look clear? Check the condition of the dog's stools. Has the dog been dewormed? Find out if the dog has been spayed or neutered.

Most dogs that are brought to shelters are examined by veterinarians and vaccinated. Ask if this particular dog has been checked and make sure he has been screened for contagious diseases. Ask if you can you take the dog to your own vet before making the commitment to adopt.


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