Finding a dog can be a stressful undertaking. But it doesn’t need to be when you create your dog criteria. Let’s focus on simple ways to find your new dog. Honestly, where you look for your new dog will be a bit different, depending on whether you are looking for a dog from a breeder or a rescue dog.
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Where to find a dog that is from a reputable breeder?
I generally encourage people to rescue their animals, unless they plan on showing them or there is another reason to get a full breeder dog. However, for those looking, I would encourage you to research your type of dog breeder through the AKC site. AKC breeders are held to a higher standard. You can easily search for your desired breed on their site.
Where do can I find a particular type of dog to rescue?
1. Become familiar with local shelter websites
Most will post pictures of available dogs with a short description.
WARNING: DO NOT take the pictures posted literally. I looked right pasted my pup without giving him a second glance. Often these photos are not well done and the dogs are scared. Pay more attention to the descriptions. Even they can be misleading. For example, my pup was listed as a “poodle mix”, which he is, but he’s actually a cockapoo. This narrowing of description helps to know what type of personality you may get with your dog. A cockapoo personality isn’t exactly like a poodle. Or at least my is not.
2. Search national pet shelter websites
If you’re interested in a particular type of dog, such as a cockapoo, you can search these sites:
3. Get the word out
Tell friends and family about what type of dog and your criteria. You’d be surprised by the things you hear in a beauty shop.
4. Pet adoption events
Watch out for pet adoption events. Often these will be the time when foster parents will bring their foster dogs out to greet possible new parents. Otherwise, when you see a dog online that is foster, you will have to make an appointment with the foster family to see the dog. These adoption centers or weekends can be amazing finds! If you see one coming to your area, and you’re looking for a dog of any type, don’t miss the opportunity. I found my little furball at one of these adoptions/yard sales. The best find ever!
Here are a few more things to know about adopting a dog.
You will most likely be required to fill out some paperwork. Generally, this is very basic, depending on the rescue organization.
2. Background check
Some organizations will do a background check on you before releasing an animal into your care. They want to make sure you do not have any violent tendencies. For most people, this should not be an issue.
3. Site inspection
Some organizations will require a home inspection before releasing an animal into your care. They are looking to make sure that your home is safe and your future dog will have a place to roam. Larger dogs will generally, need a six-foot fence. However, there are exceptions to every rule. Obviously, this is not possible in most large cities.
Costs for adopting your dog will vary wildly. Sometimes organizations will have free adoption days when their kennels get full. Those are great opportunities! Otherwise, prices can vary depending on the type of puppy, dog, female, male, age, type, (retriever, poodle, pitbull, cockapoo). My adoption fee for my little male dog was $100. However, about 100 miles away they can be as much as $2500 for a similar type of dog. You will have to research your area.
5. Don’t judge an adoption dog by his photo
Again, I want to emphasize how important it is to not judge a dog based solely on his online picture. That’s almost like someone judging you based on your driver’s license picture. Can you imagine?
Above, the left side are the photos my dog’s rescue organization had posted online of him. The right side is him on the afternoon I adopted him, even before he got his initial bath. It’s hard to believe they are the same dog. I’m very glad I saw him in person.
You think you found a dog online or in-person you want to adopt. Now, what?
1. Pet and play
It’s like a first date. Get to know the dog. Plan on spending some time. Get down to his level. Yep, that means on all fours, if you can. I encourage bringing a toy and playing with the dog. See how he reacts. Expect that he may be scared or reserved at first. Don’t jump into his face. Let him come to you. Play is an excellent way to get to know a dog. See if he wants to play after he has smelled you and the area. If he does, that’s a good sign. Be calm and just play for 20 or 30 minutes.
VERY IMPORTANT: If at any point, your potential dog rolls to his back in a playful manner. This is a very good sign. He’s more submissive and not aggressive.
If the dog is calm yet playful, then ask to take the dog for a walk. You want to make sure you can control the dog and it’s not a train wreck on a leash. However, most walking issues can be solved in training classes. You do not want to see any aggression from the dog at any time. Shyness is okay. Remember it’s a stressful situation for the dog as well.
3. Criteria met?
If the play and walk went well. Ask yourself if this dog meets your criteria checklist.
4. Home meet and greet
If so, fill out the required paperwork. Also, ask if you can bring the dog home to meet your other family members, including cats, spouses, kids, or elderly parents. Some organizations will require this step, but not all. I highly recommend it before you make your lifetime commitment to this potential new family member. Also, plan for the dog to visit for 30-40 minutes so you know if he will be able to fit with everyone and everything.
*At no time do you want to see any aggression from the dog. Watch his ears and tail. You want them to be up and alert. However, you do not want any aggression. That could include showing his teeth or raising its fur on its back.
One of my favorite tips for getting a new dog is setting up a “dog account“. Simply set aside what you would need each month for your dog and once you’ve done it for a few months easily, you’ll know you can afford a dog. You can figure out what you would need for your new dog by creating a dog budget.
Summary of how to find your new dog
When you’re looking for your new dog you’ll want to search your local and national shelter websites, tell everyone you’re looking for a dog, and attend pet adoption events. Additionally, when you think you found your dog, you’ll want to make sure to pet and play with the dog, walk him, seriously evaluate if he meets your dog criteria list, and finally, take him home for a “meet and greet” with the rest of your furry and human family. You may discover that you need to add a few more steps to find your dog. These are just the basic step to locate your dog.
While the search for a dog can take a while, it’s worth all the effort. Mine took several months. I walked away from a few dogs and wondered if I’d made the right decision. I knew I had when I found my little furry ball on a fateful May morning. You will know as well.