Considering a dog
There are many reasons for wanting a dog, and all of them will have a huge impact on your daily life. Dogs will entertain you, keep you company, enrich your life and likely even improve your mental and physical health, but it's important to remember that, in exchange for all of the richness a dog will add to your life, he or she is going to need your dedicated time and attention.
There are many things to consider before getting a dog, like whether or not you have the time, money, energy, space, desire, patience and lifestyle to make the commitment of being a full-time dog owner.
Learn more about considering a dog.
Choosing the right dog
Dogs come in many shapes, sizes and temperaments. It is important when choosing a dog that you consider the reasons why you want a dog, what activity level you're comfortable engaging in, how often you want to groom your dog, how experienced you are with dogs, how big you want your dog to be once the animal is fully grown, what kind of personality you want your dog to have and whether or not you will need to get a hypoallergenic dog.
Thinking about your needs and having a concrete idea of what kind of qualities you are looking for in a dog will help you decide whether to get a puppy or an adult dog, and which breed or breed mix might be best for you.
Learn more about choosing the right dog.
Finding your dog
You've done your research and decided on the kind of dog you want to get. Now where do you go to find your dog? To ensure that you avoid supporting puppy mills, you can either adopt a dog from a humane society, SPCA, reputable rescue or satellite adoption centre, or you can purchase directly from a responsible, ethical breeder.
Learn more about finding your dog.
Remember, dogs are for life. Think carefully, choose wisely and love deeply!
What to do if you have lost or found a dog:
IF YOU HAVE LOST A DOG
Losing your dog can be devastating. Here are some actions you can immediately take to help you bring your Fido home.
- Immediately check your property and your neighbours' properties – check any place your dog could reasonably hide in.
- Notify your local animal shelters, including animal control and nearby humane societies, rescue groups, dog parks, groomers, doggy day cares and pet stores.
- List your lost pet on www.helpinglostpets.com. Emails and twitter alerts will be sent to all network members in the area.
- Create a poster that you can place in high-traffic areas. Include a photo of your pet and describe his or her distinguishing characteristics. (Note: posters can be printed at www.helpinglostpets.com)
- Get friends and family involved right away. The more ground you cover in the first few hours, the better chance you have of finding your dog.
- Knock on doors.
- Follow your dog’s regular walking route. Try to think of where he or she might go to feel safe.
- Go to your local humane society or SPCA and look for your pet.
- Check websites that have lost/found pet pages. Also, check in the pets for sale section in case someone is trying to sell/find a new home for your pet.
- If you receive a call about a sighting of your dog, confirm the pet’s description and size before you send anyone to search that area.
- If you get a confirmed sighting, have someone go immediately. Dogs can travel a long way in just an hour.
IF YOU HAVE FOUND A DOG
- If a lost/stray dog approaches you, be cautious. Even if he or she seems to be a friendly dog, we would advise that you move slowly, and very gently take hold of the collar or leash.
- If the dog growls or becomes panicked/aggressive, stop what you are doing and stand back.
- If you are able to leash the dog, check for tags and call whatever phone numbers you find on the dog's tags.
- If there is no contact information, notify your local humane society or SPCA or animal control.
- If you are offering food to the dog, place a small amount on the ground.
- Do not look the dog directly in the eye – this may be interpreted as aggression.
- Take the dog to a veterinarian or animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip. This could tell you who the owners are and where they live.
- Microchip your pet, and update your information with the service provider EVERY TIME you change your phone number or address.
- License your pet with your municipality and keep the tag on your pet’s collar/harness at all times.
- Have another ID tag on the dog’s leash in case the collar breaks free or is lost.
- Check tags regularly for wear and tear.
When you visit a shelter, keep in mind that you are not seeing the animals at their best. They are in a strange environment, surrounded by other animals they don’t know. Some will be very excited, jumping and barking as you approach. Others will be quiet and a bit scared – but don’t be too quick to judge them, as they will adjust once they’re settled into a family. It’s best for everyone in your household to be part of the adoption process – in fact, many shelters require that.
Ask the staff for more information about the animal(s) that interest you. Ask if the dog is good with children, with other dogs, with cats, etc. It's also a good idea to ask if the dog has any known triggers or traumas. It’s best if you can interact with the dog outside or in a separate area away from the stress of the animal rooms. If you already have a dog, you should bring him or her to meet a potential sibling in a neutral setting to make sure they’re compatible before adopting.
You will be asked to complete an adoption questionnaire and meet with shelter staff to discuss your expectations and lifestyle in order to find the best match. Don’t take it personally if you are not accepted for adoption, or for the particular dog you wanted. This may be a sign that you're not ready for a dog yet – or just not right for that dog.
Who’s who in animal adoption?
You might be wondering: what’s the difference between a humane society, SPCA, rescue group and municipal shelter?
This generally refers to an organization dedicated to the betterment of animal welfare. They usually run a shelter and an animal adoption program to find new homes for abandoned, mistreated and/or surrendered animals. They also conduct education in their community and are often mandated to enforce provincial and federal animal cruelty laws. They usually work closely with the police when animal cruelty charges are laid.
Refers to the physical building where animals are held when they are being put up for adoption. It is usually run by an organization such as a humane society, SPCA or municipal animal services. Good shelters not only do comprehensive physical exams on all the animals that they receive, but they also do temperament testing to ensure that all animals available for adoption will be safe members of the community.
Animal rescue organizations are usually run out of an individual’s home or by a network of individuals who foster animals until they are ready to be adopted. Some may concentrate on a certain breed of dog or cat.
This is a municipal animal shelter. Some municipalities contract their local humane society or SPCA to provide the pound service and some are run independent of the local humane society or SPCA. Pounds generally take in stray animals and usually keep them for 3 business days to give owners a chance to claim their lost animals. Many pounds will then offer the animals for adoption.
Satellite Adoption Centre
A satellite adoption centre is a pet store or other location that does not sell cats and dogs, but instead displays cats and dogs that are available for adoption from a Humane Society, SPCA or rescue organization. Interested adopters must be approved under the same screening process that the shelter organization has in place for all the animals it adopts out.
Many of the above animal welfare organizations work hard to reunite lost pets with owners and promote adoption of unclaimed animals. Others, unfortunately, have little funding and few staff and provide only the bare minimum and then euthanize pets that are not adopted.
The bottom line is, healthy, adoptable pets in need of homes can be found through any of these sources, so in most areas, there is no shortage of options for finding your perfect adoptable dog!