Three Dog Adoption Tips from a Shelter Volunteer

Dog parents are responsible for the health and happiness of their pooch and providing a safe and caring home. Unfortunately, for a minority of dogs, this doesn’t always happen. Did you know over 3.3 million dogs enter animal shelters across the US each year? That is one dog every 10 seconds!

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, so we think it is a good time to share a few dog adoption tips. Making sure your dog is a thriving member of your family takes patience, practice and persistence. These are known as the three Ps by dog trainers and breeders. The same applies to adopting a dog.

#1 – Stay Patient and Match with a Dog

Rescue shelters provide reliable care and a safe home for dogs who temporarily find themselves without a loving family. When it comes to families adopting a dog, rescue shelters use their own matching criteria. The process looks to match a dog with a compatible family and is often based on: The Right Home, The Right Family and The Right Environment.

Rescue shelters do their best to match a family with a dog. It’s important to do your own research to help evaluate whether a dog will be compatible with your family.

  • Give thought to your lifestyle
  • Read dog temperament information from the American Temperament Test Society
  • Review the puppy homing criteria from the American Kennel Club.

You should end up with a profile of your family’s existing commitments and lifestyle. It’ll show how much time you will be at home with your dog, activities your dog should join in with (e.g. Hiking or Running), and the type of dog you want.

Be patient during this research phase to help ensure you choose a dog based on temperament and activity, not just appearance.

#2 – Practice Loving a Dog

Practice is important in many areas of dog ownership and is very important for first time dog owners. Existing dog owners know our loving pooches can, at times, undertake hilarious activities and be very mischievous. Sometimes, we need patience and they need practice!

With return to shelter rates in the US as high as 10%, responsible pet ownership starts far before adopting a dog. Making sure the entire family is ready to adapt their lifestyles and love a new pooch reduces the likelihood of your family being the one in ten families to return the dog.

Many families aren’t aware they can volunteer and take rescue dogs out for the day and return them to the shelter in the evening. This provides the dog with a fun and loving day away from the shelter.  It also gives the family first-hand experience in caring for a  dog. Fostering a dog for two to three weeks is another option you can explore.

#3 – Stay Persistent Especially with Training

Socializing a puppy helps to raise a happy, well-trained dog. This socialization period from around week 3 to 20 in puppyhood ensures the dog experiences different people, environments, sounds and places to help build familiarity and confidence.

Since rescue dogs are typically older than two years old, this critical socialization window has passed. This means they were socialized by someone else.  There are dog aptitude tests to help you determine how well the dog was socialized, but it’s better to go in with an open mind.

Understand you may need to re-socialize, re-train and potentially re-housebreak a rescue dog. It requires commitment and persistence, but you’ll enjoy building a strong and loving bond and your pooch will have safe and loving home.


We love our pooches, and they love us. They are an integral member of our families with their intelligence, humor and loyalty. They sense emotion and share an unspoken bond with each family member.

By exercising patience, practice and persistence, you’ll increase your chances of matching with the right rescue dog.

This Article was written by All Things Dogs.