Spring is the perfect time to adopt a dog

With milder weather and more incentive to spend time outdoors, it may be the perfect season for finding and adopting a new dog.

Young adult woman holding adorable dog in animal shelter

When choosing, take time to figure out the type of dog your family can handle.

Fortunately, there's a lot of help out there. Dog expert Cesar Milan offers guidance on the basics, and Petfinder takes a "get down to business" approach, even offering prospective adoptive pet parents a checklist for getting started.

Be realistic

Assess the process carefully, and figure out the type of dog you and your family can handle. "Bring along a dog trainer or other professional who can advise you about a dog's energy," Milan advised.

Ask the experts

Along the same lines, the group recommended speaking with workers at the animal shelter and asking about the dogs. The shelter's employees, said Milan, are an adopter's secret weapon. Since they are with the dogs all the time, they can share a great deal of helpful information about individual dog traits, including who is territorial, who is mellow, and so on.

Look but don't touch

With shelter dogs, said Milan, it's a good idea to refrain from touching, talking, and eye contact at first.
"Ignore the dog," he said, "but stand or sit close to him, so he can get used to your presence [and scent]."

side view of happy african american teenager playing with golden retriever dog

A return visit to a shelter can help you determine if there's any variation in a dog's behavior.

Just do it

"If you have the opportunity," advised Milan, "return to see the dog on a second day, at a different time of day, to determine if there is a variation in behavior. "Taking your time in choosing a dog is serious business."

Then take action, said Greg Kleva. "Go to the shelter and 'Just Do It!' Don't risk walking away from the dog who could become your new best friend."

The adoption checklist

Below are several questions from the Petfinder checklist for adopting a dog:

  • How will your other animals react to a new dog?
  • Will your house or apartment be well-suited to the kind of dog you're thinking about?
  • Will your work hours or social commitments be problems?
  • Who will care for the dog when you travel?

Undertaken with care and thought, adopting a homeless dog may be one of the highlights of your life.

This post is provided by the pet experts at Hartz.