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Tips: Choosing a Dog

Examine Yourself
Choosing the right dog generally means identifying the type of animal that matches your lifestyle. If you live alone in a small, third-floor apartment, for instance, adopting a large, active retriever mix might not be the best choice. Conversely, if you have a family of four and are looking for a companion to match your active lifestyle, such an animal may be perfect. A dog’s size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness, and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision.

Learn about Different Breeds and Mixes 
So how do you find out which dogs have the qualities you’re looking for? Information is the key: Learn about various breeds, visit with animals at the center, and speak with an adoption counselor for guidance.

Dogs fall into one of two categories: purebreds or mixed breeds. Since RAIN is a rescue group, most of our dogs are mixed breeds, with a few purebreds from time to time. The only significant difference between the two is that purebreds, because their parents and other ancestors are all members of the same breed, generally conform to a specific “breed standard.” This means that if you adopt a purebred puppy, you have a good chance of knowing how big he’ll get and what general physical and behavioral characteristics he’ll have.

Of course, the size, appearance, and temperament of most mixed breed dogs can be predicted as well. After all, mixed breeds are simply combinations of different breeds. So if you can recognize the ancestry of a particular mixed-breed puppy, you have a good chance of knowing how he’ll turn out, too.

Mixed breeds offer several other advantages. When you adopt a mixed breed, you benefit from the combined traits of two or more breeds. You also get a dog that’s likely to be free of genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs. Mixed breeds are often considered the more “natural” dog. When you adopt a mixed breed, you adopt a totally unique companion.

Visit with Center Animals
While you’re at the center, keep in mind that it is a stressful place for any animal. Quite often, a dog’s true colors won’t show until he’s away from other animals and the center environment. So even if you walk past a cage with a dog that isn’t looking for your attention, don’t dismiss him just yet. He may just be scared or lonely.

A RAIN volunteer can help you select a dog that’ll match your lifestyle. When you spend time with each animal, you’ll want to ask yourself: How old is the dog? You may want to select a puppy as your new companion. However, young dogs usually require much more training and supervision than more mature dogs. If you lack the time or patience to housetrain your pup or to correct problems like chewing and jumping, an adult dog may be a better choice.

How shy or assertive is the dog? Although an active, bouncy dog might catch your eye, a more quiet or reserved dog might be easier to live with and care for.

How good is the animal with children? Learning about a dog’s past from an adoption counselor can be helpful, but past information isn’t always available. In general, an active dog who likes to be touched and is not sensitive to handling and noise, is a dog who’ll probably do well in a house full of kids. Also keep in mind that puppies under six months of age, because of the demanding nature of training a pup, won’t be adopted out to families who have no one home during the day.

Most Importantly — Be Responsible!
One of the most important part of responsible dog guardianship, having your female dog spayed or your male dog neutered, is already done. Spaying or neutering will ensure that your dog never adds to the millions of animals born each year who never find a good home. It’ll also help him or her live a longer, healthier life.

Choose a Pal for Life
Every dog in the center can provide you with endless love and companionship, and every dog deserves a lifelong, loving home. But some dogs are better for you and your lifestyle than others. That’s why you should take the time to make a thoughtful choice. After all, you’re choosing your new best friend, who’ll be with you, 10, 15, or even more years. Select the right dog and you and your new companion will enjoy those years to the fullest.