While the right pet companion obtained from any source can be a wonderful addition to your home and family, many individuals will readily admit that shelter pets are among the absolute best pets available. Perhaps it is because you know you are saving that pet’s life, perhaps it’s even their own recognition of the fact that you are giving them a better life and future, but there is no doubt that adopting a shelter pet can be very highly rewarding for all involved.
Tips for Finding a Perfect Match
Finding a perfect pet match at an animal shelter begins with identifying your own needs. The perfect pet is one that will fit nicely into your schedule and lifestyle without causing major disruption. This means that you need to sit down and be honest about what you really need and want. Are you a single adult looking for a dog who can follow you everywhere? Are you a parent who wants a dog or cat that loves children? Are you looking for a companion animal that can get along with other pets at home? Do you want a dog or cat with short, easily-maintained coat? Do you want a lap companion or an exercise partner? Do you live in a house with a big backyard or do you live in a small apartment building? Do you have the time and patience to play with a kitten or train a puppy? It is important to thoroughly consider every aspect of your life, and what you truly want from a pet, before you even visit a local animal shelter.
Once you have decided what kind of pet will be the perfect pet for your home and lifestyle, you should create a detailed list of questions that you want to access shelter staff. A pet’s history, if known, can be important in determining whether they will be suited to your family. For example, a pet that was surrendered by their owner because he was shredding the furniture will not be well-suited to your small apartment and minimal interaction times. Furthermore, many shelters perform basic evaluations of the pets they have in their facility, both to determine their physical health as well as their basic personality and behavior. This can be very important to gather information about as well. For example, a dog that is frightened by loud noises will obviously not do well in a home with small children.
When you arrive at the shelter, perform a walk through of all kennel areas at least once in order to find out if there are any pets there that appeal to you. When you find an animal that appeals to you, stop in front of their kennel and watch how they react to you, other people, and other animals around them. Some key things to look for include signs of friendliness, like pawing, wagging, wiggling and approaching the kennel fence. If you have young children in your family or an active lifestyle, it may be wise to avoid those animals that seem shy and afraid. It is an unfortunate fact that some animals who are fearful will bite when they feel threatened. However, if you don’t have children or if you are willing to devote a lot of time to a shy animal, it’s important to recognize that they are in a very stressful environment and they may actually behave much better in a private home with a lot of love and attention. Be mindful of the fact that dogs who are jumping, barking and spinning around like crazy may also be reacting to the stress of their shelter environment, but may also need a lot of attention and patience in order to settle into family life. You can ask for an opportunity to interact with such a dog in a calmer environment and see if that makes a difference. If you come to a dog who freezes, stares at you, bares his teeth, raises his hackles or even growls at you, it’s best to simply move on. These are signs of an unfriendly or even aggressive dog, and unless you are a professional canine trainer who wants to take on the challenge, it’s best not to get involved.
Take time to get to know a prospective new pet. While adopting a new pet can be wonderfully exciting, it is also an important decision that should not be rushed into. Sit quietly with the pet for a few minutes, talk with your prospective new pet, learn if they like being stroked and how. Try playing with the pet, and introduce him to children in order to see how he interacts with them. You may even want to push, poke, prod and hug the pet in order to see how he reacts, especially if you have children he will be interacting with. You should also ask shelter staff to show you how the pet reacts when someone approaches or takes away his food and toys because you don’t want a pet who becomes aggressive at these times.
Making a Choice
Some shelters allow pets to be placed on short holds, and this can be immensely helpful to an individual who is trying to determine whether a certain shelter pet is the right one for their family and home. Taking the time to be sure that you are making the right choice will be well worth it when you have a devoted, loving companion as a result.