Walking into an animal shelter can be quite overwhelming with the sounds of the rattling of cages from anxious dogs to the howls of abandoned, lonely souls. Often shelter dogs have had their lives flipped upside down, and most animals, like humans, just want to be loved. 

To ensure you can be the best fur-parent, here are our four top tips on what to look for when buying a shelter dog.

Assess your lifestyle.

Before anything else, it is imperative that you assess your own lifestyle to help determine if a dog will complement your life. A few factors to consider:

  • Time – How much time can you dedicate to caring for an animal? Look at your work schedule and whether you can genuinely manage to have quality time with your dog. For example, taking the dog for walks and to the vet.
  • Allergies – You can ask your local GP to do either a skin test or blood test that will detect allergen-specific IgE (Immunoglobulin E) to see if you have dog allergies.
  • Your Home – Depending on the sort of shelter dog you are after, it is essential to consider your home life, and if your house/and or backyard is suitable for the breed of dog, you wish to have join your life.


When walking into a shelter, do not settle on the first dog that gives you “puppy eyes”. Observe the behaviour and temperament of all the dogs at the shelter. Be mindful that it is unnatural for dogs to be in cages and most of them may be more anxious and timider than usual. 

Meet more than one dog

Ask the volunteers at the shelter to allow you to meet a few of the dogs and take them for a walk. As mentioned earlier, most dogs may be displaying traits that aren’t true to their personality due to their confinement. You might find once you get a dog out of the cage, they become more relaxed and open up more to you. It is important to note that some dogs may get overly excited being out of their cage, so watch how they calm down once the excitement has settled. It is important for you to feel a connection with your new fur friend.

Ask questions

Be picky, be sceptical, and ask questions. It may seem cold to be picky, but it is about giving the best future you can to this animal. It is imperative to understand what sort of dog you are taking home, their needs and their history. Here are crucial questions to ask:

  • What is the dog’s background?
  • How is the dog’s health?
  • Is the dog on any medication?
  • Has the dog been spayed or neutered?
  • Has the dog been vaccinated and wormed?

Bringing a new pet into your home is an important decision and commitment, but it is also the most rewarding and fulfilling act of service you can do because you are, more often than not, saving a life. Whether you are buying a puppy, an adolescent, or a mature-aged dog from the shelter, be prepared to shower your new fur-baby with lots of love.

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