Adopting a dog is a life altering decision. You need to make sure that you are sure you are ready and then you need to double down on making sure of that sureness. You aren’t picking a puppy, taking it home, and then living happily ever after together. There will be bumps, bruises, and so much learning. There will be tears and pain. There will be love.
The question that you should answer before adopting that dog you’ve been eyeing is this, are you in love or are you just infatuated?
It is extremely easy to become infatuated with a dog. You lay your eyes on a beautiful dog and it bats its big blue eyes at you or playfully bows or does something equally adorable. You are smitten. It’s a sign. This dog is the dog for you.
But do you really know anything about that dog other than the fact that it has a beautiful coat and gorgeous blue eyes? No. You don’t.
You should never adopt a dog outright without knowing everything you can about it.
You need to know its temperament. You need to know if it is good with people. You need to know if it is good with other dogs or cats or other animals. You need to know if it is submissive or dominant. You need to know more.
Most rescues/animal shelters do their best to answer the above. They’ll keep a profile and add to it every time they learn something new. Some places won’t have any information at all because they’ve just pulled the dog from a life or death situation without time to learn about it.
If you have fallen for a dog that comes from a situation where the shelter has no information on them, don’t adopt it. An option could be to foster it instead. This relieves some of the burden from the shelter and gives you a chance to learn about the dog directly from the source.
Don’t ignore the signs.
You may still be infatuated. If the dog is not adjusting to life in your home, you may have to accept that it is not the right dog for you. If you ignore signs of aggression, you are putting yourself and your dog at risk.
It is one of the most difficult decisions you can make, surrendering a dog, but if it is the right decision for both you and the dog, you’ll know and you’ll be able to make it.
Speaking from personal experience, we fostered a dog pulled from a rural farm and named him Leonard Cohen. The shelter had no background information on him. When we first met him, he was handsome and cuddly and we were instantly smitten. We had him for a week and decided we had to keep him.
We ignored the signs or maybe we didn’t see them due to our infatuation. He did not get a long with our first rescue dog, Sam. They fought constantly with Leonard being the aggressor. He took a chunk out of Sam’s ear and started going for Sam’s throat. He picked on our male cat (our female cat was the boss, he didn’t go near her after a good swat to the nose). He began to get aggressive toward us. He finally snapped and bit someone.
We had to give him back for our safety, Sam’s safety, our cat’s safety, and anyone visiting our house’s safety, and also for to find a better situation for him. He was a farm dog and the city terrified him. We let our infatuation cloud our judgment when it came to adopting him.
Your situation will be different as everyone else’s will be, but I really can’t stress enough that you should know as much as you possibly can about a dog before you adopt it.