Before adopting, first think about this decision. Don’t decide on the spur of the moment. Adopt consciously and responsibly.
Consider the following:
- Does your lifestyle allow for the care of an animal
- Do you have conditions suitable for the animal
- Do other household members agree
- Who will take care of the pet if you go on vacation or get sick
- Does your financial situation allow for proper care of the animal (appropriate feed, vaccinations, treatment, periodic examinations, protection against ticks)
Remember a dog or cat is a living creature with whom we build relationships. Your choice should be primarily by your character and not the pet’s appearance.
Important issues to consider before adopting a dog:
Think about whether you want to take a puppy, a middle-aged dog or an old dog? Adoption of a dog from each of these categories has both its pros and cons.
And so, for example, when adopting a puppy, remember that such a dog is not taught anything and you will have to teach and educate the puppy, including potty training. Remember that in the first period after adoption, such a puppy can destroy some objects, so if you have just moved into a new home or you are newly renovated, think carefully whether adopting such a young dog is a good choice. The undoubted advantage of adopting a puppy is that it will most likely accompany you for the next dozen or so years. But try to think about how your life will look like then. Will you still have time and opportunity to take care of your dog?
By adopting an middle-aged dog (and remember that the dog matures physically faster than mentally – so, depending on the size – the dog can reach emotional maturity, only at the age of 3), you are adopting a dog who most probably already had a home (the vast majority of dogs residing in a shelter already had owners in the past). So this is a dog that most likely someone has already learned the basic principles of living with a people. Sometimes with fear due to a middle-aged dog may already have some traumatic experiences (such as beatings), but in the vast majority of cases this is not the case. And so, before you adopt a specific dog, you need to meet and talk to a volunteer or carer who will provide you with additional information about that particular dog you are interested in.
If you want to care for an old man, of course you have to reckon with the fact that the time you spend with him will not be as long as with a younger dog. You also need to be prepared for a lot of medical expenses (even if your adopted dog is healthy at the time of adoption, it will certainly start to develop medical problems soon, older dogs, just like older people, are more likely to get sick). On the other hand – by adopting an old dog, you will help a dog who would otherwise spend the rest of his days in the shelter and end his life there.
The size of the dog is important for several reasons. First, large dogs need more food. The amount of expenditure on food is therefore greater for larger dogs.
Second – larger dogs are stronger than smaller ones. Of course, it is not always the case that a large dog pulls strongly on a walk, and a small dog goes calmly (it depends on many factors – including the dog’s age, temperament, etc., however, the fact is that larger dogs generally have more strength than smaller dogs. So if you want to adopt a large dog, think about whether you will definitely be able to handle it on walks (both now and in several years, when you and he will be older!).
If you live in a block of flats without an elevator, then think about whether a large dog is a good choice. Think about yourself and your dog in a dozen or so years, when maybe (if he is sick) you will have to carry him on his arms for walks – are you sure you will have the strength for it?
This is just about making you realize what having a large dog is.
Another important thing is the dog’s temperament – including whether he is fearful or emotionally balanced; whether he is very active or rather calm; does he like other dogs or is he rather a loner type; how he reacts to children, etc., etc.
And so, e.g. the level of activity of a dog is associated with many factors – such as, the already mentioned age or size of the dog, but also its breed. It is very important that you choose a dog with a similar level of activity to yours – so that there is no situation in which both sides will be unhappy. If you are going to adopt a purebred dog or a type of breed, read first about the requirements, needs and habits of this breed – so that you know what awaits you after adoption. This is very important, because when choosing a dog, do not only consider his appearance and not by temperament. If you want to adopt, for example, a husky dog, remember that you will have to provide him with a lot of intense walks. Even if you have a house with a garden, running around the property for such a dog is absolutely insufficient. Also remember that an active dog that does not have enough movement, can be bored and destroy things at home in your absence. If you work a lot / often are not at home, do not opt for a very active dog.
In turn, a fearful dog needs a very quiet home – in which guests are uncommon and where small children are also to be considered. It is also good that the owners of such a dog lead an orderly, regular lifestyle – fearful dogs, in order to feel safe, need predictability (it is important that they know what can happen and what they can expect). For fearful dogs, it is also important to keep special safety rules when taking them for walks in the first period after adoption (very often these dogs are terrified by the excess of stimuli in the new environment).
Other animals in the house:
If other animals already live in your home, then before adoption you should find out how they behave in contact with dogs.
If it is a cat, it is worth inviting someone who has a friendly dog to see (having situations under control all the time!) How your cat will react to it – will it be scared and will it run away, hide under furniture or e.g. attack a dog. Of course, most shelters check how the dog you want to adopt reacts to cats – but in shelter conditions such a test can only be very provisional – so you always have to take into account the need to work on arranging the relationship between your cat and dog after adoption .
In turn, if you have a dog in the house, you will need to familiarize your pet with the dog you want to adopt from the shelter. Maybe you can take your dog to the shelter before hand.
Other home members:
It is also worth finding out how the dog you are interested in reacts to different people. This is very important, e.g. in a situation where, you have small children who as very often fall victim to dog bites. This is because children usually unconsciously do things that dogs don’t like or are afraid of. Children often want to cuddle up to a dog, and dogs (especially if they don’t know someone well) can treat it as a threatening gesture (because that’s how they would treat the gesture of putting a paw on their back by another dog they don’t know, dogs read our gestures in the same way as the gestures other dogs communicate with them). It also happens that children (especially the very small ones) pull the dog’s tail or take food from the bowl, and the dog, in turn, does not understand that the child behaving in this way has no bad intentions and in this situation unhappiness can easily occur. So, if you live with small children, before adopting any dog, it is worth talking to them about the dog’s language / gestures, which dogs communicate with other dogs and with us, and which show what the dog pleases and what causes him fear or discomfort.
In this context, it is also worth considering the size of the dog you want to adopt. Small children are not aware of the strength of their grip, so catching a very small dog, they can unknowingly hurt him (with a very large dog the situation can be the opposite, such a dog can knock over a child or step on the him/her).
Of course, these are absolutely not all the factors that you should consider when choosing a dog for yourself. Nevertheless, it is worth treating them as an introduction to the considerations about choosing a dog. Reflecting them will certainly reduce the number of unsuccessful adoptions, so that both the owner and the dog are happy in their new shared home.
Good luck on your pet searching quest, we are sure you will find your new best friend and remember ”Shelter Pets Make Great Pets”.
Click here for a List of Sanctuaries in Malta
If you can’t adopt but still wish to help animals, you can volunteer.