VCA Animal Hospitals
Published: Dec 31, 2012

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If you're considering dog adoption, then the first step is to visit a local animal shelter where you can meet some canines in need of a home. This can sometimes be a lengthy process, but it's important that you take the time to find a canine companion who suits you and your family's needs. It's never a good idea to adopt a pet until you're certain you can provide him with a "forever home." Your initial interaction with a potential canine companion can tell you a lot about whether or not he'll be compatible with your lifestyle, so here are some tips to keep in mind during your first visit to an adoption center.

Speaking with staff
Most adoption facilities appreciate advance notice if you're planning to visit their animals. This will also allow you to set up an appointment with a staff member to discuss the canines who are available. During this consultation, ask about any pet health issues the dogs you're visiting may have, and let the staff know what kind of dog you're interested in. Once you've gotten that information squared away, the staff member will likely be able to introduce you to dogs who could be a potential match.

In the holding area
As you walk through the holding area where the dogs are kept, you should expect to hear a lot of dog barking, as many of the animals will likely be excited to see an unfamiliar face. Don't let this put you off - barking isn't always a sign of dog aggression.

Some facilities may have an enclosed yard or other area where you can meet with the dogs one-on-one, and this is ideal - it will make it easy for you to get to know the canine without being distracted by other animals.

Meeting the canine
When it comes time to introduce yourself to one of the dogs, make sure you go about the process slowly, and base your interaction on the dog's attitude. Some animals may be very outgoing and run up to you to greet you while others will be more timid. If you are dealing with a shy canine, crouch down so you are at his level and hold out your hand so he can give it a good sniff. This is very much like a "handshake" for dogs, and may help the dog feel more comfortable interacting.

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