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Rolan Tripp DVM
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- Pet Selection-

Selecting An Adult Shelter Dog
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Here are several tests to perform while actually at the shelter.

1) First, simply walk down the entire row of all available kennels. Observe your first impression to see if you have an immediate "love at first sight" experience. Based on this first pass, determine which dogs you wish to test.
2) Stop in front of a kennel or run, and act as neutral as possible. Stand relaxed and shift weight to one foot. Look in the direction of the dog, but without eye contact. Observe to see if the dog barks, and how long. Look at activity level. Look for a moderate amount of vocalization and activity energy. Avoid the extremes.
3) Test the dog's "reactivity." While still outside the kennel, suddenly act threatening for 3 seconds to assess the dog's response. Growl, raise your hands over your head and make a threatening lunge at the dog. If the dog responds by acting aggressive back at you, it is likely more aggressive than you want. If it moves away in fear, immediately drop the act and go to the next test.
4) Now act as friendly as possible as if to say, "I was just kidding, I would really like to be friends." Crouch down, talk in a happy voice, slap your leg, and encourage the dog to come to you. If the dog will not forgive the lunge test, it is possibly too fearful to make a good pet. If it "forgives" you and now will approach and act friendly, this is a candidate.
5) Only take a dog out of the run with the permission of the staff, and only further test those that passed the previous tests. Now determine if the dog is interested in you or ignores you and investigates the surrounding area.
6) Pet the dog over the head and down the back. Determine if the dog likes this and solicits more, of it the dog ignores it, or even tries to get away. If the dog likes the petting, try petting against the grain to see if the dog becomes upset, or accepts it with good humor.
7) Evaluate the activity level out of the kennel, compared to activity while in the kennel. If the dog is pulling on the leash and jumping excitedly, this may be a more active dog than desired. In most cases, look for a dog that is calm most of the time, but becomes excited when appropriate.
8) Try to spend at least two minutes with each candidate, to get an idea of their true personality as they calm down. Look for an overall friendly, people focused personality and avoid dogs that demonstrate either a fearful or overly confident, dominant personality.
9) Bring a desirable toy or chew bone, and some dog treats. Ask the dog to SIT, and test any other commands known. Allow the dog to have the toy, then ask for the SIT again. Avoid a dog that will not follow commands if an object is present, or one who will not accept a treat in exchange for a toy. Avoid a dog that gets stiff or uptight in this situation, since this is the first step toward being aggressive.
10) Take the candidate on a leash, and walk them past the kennels of other dogs. Watch to see if the response to other dogs is aggressive, playful or indifferent. In general, it is best to choose a "dog friendly" dog, since one of any dog's greatest joys, is hanging with and playing with other dogs during their life with you.
...::::::: Copyright 2000-Present  All Rights Reserved by Rolan Tripp, DVM  and Susan Tripp, MS, Animal Behavior Network and Associates :::::::...