You have decided to introduce a new member to your family. You are fully prepared for the financial, time and energy responsibilities involved with bringing a furry friend into you metaphorical pack. And we can imagine, you are pretty darn excited!

But now the real tough part starts. You have to find the perfect individual for your family. There are tons of animals across shelters and rescues all looking for a home. But, how do you choose the perfect fit. There are so many types of dogs, from those ready for the next big adventure to those happy just cuddling on the couch. The key is to evaluate your desires for your future family member and figure out how to find a dog the matches your situation. Not to fret, we’ve got the advice for finding your perfect puppy match!

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1. Picking The Right Shelter 

The first thing you will have to consider when you start the epic search for your new best friend is selecting where to find this adorable pup. There are pet stores, rescues of every kind, and many shelters. They all have animals ready to go home. If you haven’t been living under a rock, we don’t have to explain why pet stores should be avoided … at all costs. So that takes care of one option! Now you are left with rescues and shelters. The only difference between the two is that rescues typically have a “type” of animal they work to find homes for. There are purebred rescues, senior dog rescues, disabled dog rescues and more. If you are interested in a specific breed of dog, a rescue is probably the way to go!

That still leaves you with a bunch of different shelters, though. Choosing a shelter that knows its dogs can help you find the perfect match. Having descriptions of temperaments on their adoption page is a good sign. Ask about the shelters adoption policy as well. A reputable shelter will have qualifications you must meet in order to adopt a dog. This ensures that all their animals go to the best possible home. Ask about the shelters “return” policy as well. A good shelter will accept their dogs back at any point no matter what the reason. This shows that they are truly invested in the well-being of a dog’s life, and that, if anything crazy were to happen in your life, your beloved pet would be taken care of.

2. Picking the Right Age

So, you’ve picked a shelter or two that you are going to start frequenting. You have a good idea of what you are looking for in a dog, and the time commitment you have available for the new baby. First things first. You need to narrow down your family search. What age dog should you look for?

Puppies

Everyone loves puppies. They are fluffy, clumsy, and by far, the sweetest thing on this planet. But puppies are a lot of work. The first few months with a little puppy is like the first few months with a baby. You wake up throughout the night to take them outside to go potty. You have to watch them at all times to make sure they aren’t getting into things. Puppies have to be trained completely. You must provide all the information you need them to know, like what to chew and what not to chew,  and be incredibly patient while doing so. The benefit is, however, in the end you have a dog that you have raised. They will know what you taught them and be completely used to the way you do things.

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Adults

The term “adult” encompasses a wide range of animals at the shelter. Adult can go from just under a year to five or six years old. There is a lot of variety in dog energy and personality between these ages. Young adult dogs often end up in shelters because people tire of their pups once they grow out of the puppy phase. When dogs grow up, they continue to need exercise and attention, but without that puppy charm, people decide they no longer want them. It’s incredibly sad, but highly common. Other adults end up in the shelter for a variety of reasons from behavioral issues to just plain abandonment. By adopting an adult dog, you are definitely saving his or her life. Adult dogs, obviously, have a much harder time finding a home than puppies

Senior

If you really want to help an animal, adopt a senior dog. These animals somehow ended up in a shelter during their golden years. Few people are willing to adopt an older dog, so they often end up waiting for long period of time in the shelter. Senior dogs do come with higher medical expenses, but they are lower energy and are typically pros at living in a home. You may not get to enjoy a senior’s company as long as a puppy or adult, but you can be sure that every day you spend with them will be full of love and appreciation

3. Finding the Right Energy Level

Are you a daily runner, or do you like to sleep in? Are your weekends spent hiking and kayaking, or are they spent reading a good book on the front porch? These types of questions are important to ask yourself when determining the type of dog you want to bring into your family. It isn’t fair to bring a high energy dog into your home if you are expecting weekend to be spent indoors. And a squishy faced, lazy dog isn’t going to enjoy those ten-miler hikes. Ask the shelter staff about temperaments of the dogs you are looking at. If you let the staff know what kind of energy level you have, they’ll be able to help you find the perfect new family member!

4. The Right Dog for Your Lifestyle

You should also consider the kind of lifestyle you are expecting with your new pup. Are you two going to be going everywhere together, or is he going to be more of a homebody, staying home with you to cuddle and play in the backyard? If your dog is going to regularly be out and about with you, you’re going to need a pup who is outgoing and good with strangers and other dogs. That is less of a concern if you and your new bestie are going to be enjoying the thrills of Netflix marathons, though.

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Also consider your living situation. Are you in a big city apartment, or way out in the country with tons of room to roam? Your pup will probably have to spend a lot of time indoors if you live in an apartment, with minimal off-leash time. If you’re out in the country, you and your high energy pup won’t have to worry about finding time for exercise.

5. The Right Fit

Every aspect of your daily life should be considered when choosing your new family member. Children and other pets in the house should be highly considered when choosing a dog. Bring children with you to choose the pup. This will allow you to see how both the dog and kids interact before they come home with you. If you have another dog, most shelters will allow and encourage a meet and greet between the two dogs before any final adoptions take place. Other pets like cats or birds should be mentioned to adoption counselors. Though they may not know exactly how a dog will react to this type of animal, they will be able to make an educated guess based on the dog’s temperament and behavior. You want to make sure you are the best possible home for your new family member.

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Homecoming

Every aspect of your daily life should be considered when beginning your search for the perfect new family member. Thankfully, shelters have made a great deal of progress in the way they help families choose dogs. Remember, though you may be excited to bring your new pup home, don’t rush into adoption if the fit isn’t exactly what you were looking for. Dogs in need of a good home are constantly coming into shelters, and there are so many different shelters across the U.S., you’ll have no problem finding the perfect match. Bringing a dog into your family is a happy and exciting time, so make sure the fit is perfect for you and your new best friend!

Image source: Ginny/Flickr