Dogs that are sold in pet stores or from breeders will always find homes, but thousands of shelter dogs will not be so lucky.
If you are still unsure whether adopting a dog is the right move for you, the following tips should help you make your final decision.
1. Adopting Saves Lives
Millions of dogs are waiting patiently in animal shelters all over the world for a second chance at a happy life.
Through no fault of their own, scared and confused dogs are left behind by irresponsible owners who cruelly abandon them for sometimes trivial reasons.
The most common reasons why dogs end up in shelters include lack of obedience (almost always the fault of the owner, not the dog), moving, cost of maintenance, allergies, and lifestyle changes.
Though almost all of these factors are blatantly human problems, the dogs are the ones that end up suffering. Shelters are forced to euthanize millions of healthy dogs every year due to space limitations.
In fact, about 50 percent of all dogs that go into the shelter will never come out again. Many dogs develop a condition known as “kennel crazy,” where the dog fails to adjust to shelter life and usually has to be euthanized.
Adopting a dog from a shelter creates space for more animals and helps to save other dogs from euthanasia.
It’s also a great feeling knowing that the money you pay to adopt a shelter dog goes toward the cost of maintaining the shelter and will help keep other pups fed, watered, and taken care of while they wait for someone to come rescue them.
2. Shelter Dogs Desperately Need Forever Homes
Being locked up in a small cage away from their owner and surrounded by hundreds of other dogs is a traumatizing experience.
Often, shelter dogs may have been kept inside throughout their lives, and many of them have never been exposed to other animals.
As a result, it’s quite understandable why they have trouble adjusting to being surrounded by other animals 24/7.
Other pups may have been very happy at home and been given up because their previous owner died or got to the point that they were no longer able to give proper care.
Since dogs aren’t able to process complex situations like these, they will often simply feel like they have been abandoned by their best friend. As a result, it’s essential that these dogs find a home where they can live out their days without going through another emotional upheaval.
Previously good-natured dogs can start to become aggressive, self-destructive or will engage in obsessive behavior such as constant howling or circling. Usually, this behavior will stop as soon as the dog is placed in a home environment and begins to feel safe and secure. Shelter dogs often come from troubled backgrounds and desperately need the love and stability that only comes from a forever home.
3. Buying Dogs From Pet Stores Encourages Puppy Mills
Money is their number one priority, and these breeders will resort to extremely inhumane tactics to get it.
Female dogs are often kept in tiny wire cages and are constantly impregnated in order to earn the breeder as much cash as possible.
These dogs are never exercised, receive no medical care and are not given any love or affection whatsoever.
The puppies they produce will suffer from serious physical and psychological problems in later life due to the mother’s poor health during pregnancy. These puppies are most often sold to pet stores and bought by unsuspecting owners.
Even if your local pet shop claims to have gotten their dogs from “USDA licensed breeders,” you can’t take that certification too seriously. According to the Animal Welfare Act, breeders are USDA compliant as long as mother dogs are kept in cages at least six inches longer than the dog herself.
These cages can be stacked on top of each other, and the dog never needs to be let out for exercise. By buying a pet store pup, you are not only endorsing this behavior, but you’re financing it as well.
4. Shelter Dogs Have Better Temperaments
Depending on the conditions at the shelter they reside in, they may even have been subjected to attacks from other dogs.
These experiences will make shelter dogs naturally shy, fearful and distrusting of strangers and other dogs.
Most shelters, however, will do their own temperament tests before putting a dog up for adoption (and the good shelters will attempt to train pups who fail these tests the first time rather than euthanizing them).
As a result, you can feel assured that your shelter dog has the potential to be very well behaved and loving once he gets out of such a stressful situation.
Once dogs are placed into a loving environment, they will begin to come out of their shell and exhibit a whole new side to their personality. Once they begin to trust their new owner and settle into their new environment, rescue dogs quickly become the most loyal, devoted companions you could ever wish for.
Your dog will never forget that you were the one who saved him from the shelter and made the effort to give him a good home. Canine pals always have the reputation for being “man’s best friend,” but shelter dogs tend to take this friendship to a whole new level.
5. Shelter Dogs Are Healthier
The dogs are immediately given all their vaccinations and are supervised by the shelter staff members that are trained to detect any illnesses or injuries.
Many of the larger shelters even have veterinary clinics on-site to deal with any health problems as soon as they arise.
From taking care of worms to treating more complex health issues, you can usually be sure that your new pup will be in tip-top condition when you get to take her home.
Before you adopt a dog from a shelter, you can ask to see her health card that contains the dog’s complete medical history. When purchasing a dog from a breeder or pet store, you will never be offered the same information.
Almost 100 percent of animal shelters around the world also spay or neuter every dog that passes through their doors before they even consider putting a pup up for adoption. With overpopulation contributing to the number of dogs sent to shelters in the first place, there is no reason why you should want your dog not to be fixed.
Not only do you prevent unwanted puppies by getting a sterilized dog, but you can also avoid many dangerous health conditions as well.
6. Adopting a Dog Feels Amazing
It is hard to fathom how so many owners can simply abandon their pets.
However, if you bring at least one former resident home with you, then you can feel relieved that you have changed the course of one animal’s life.
You will notice how many shelter dogs will lay against the bars of their cages, desperate for attention or even the smallest scratch on the head.
Consider, then, how life-changing it will be for the pup you choose to be the object of affection for your entire family.
Watching your new friend begin to adjust to his new, happier life is an incredibly rewarding experience. You will be showered with love and gratitude from your former rescue dog that will look to you as his guardian angel.
Depending on the circumstances your new pup lived in previously, this may also be the first real chance for him to appreciate the world and enjoy his life. Running with a dog who was chained up for years or cuddling a dog who never received attention as a puppy will be unforgettable experiences for both you and your canine companion.
7. A Dog is The Best Form of Protection
While you should never get a pup with the intent of using him as an attack dog, he will at least come in handy as an intruder alarm.
Dogs are natural guardians, and will let you know the instant anybody sets foot on your property.
They also make fantastic personal bodyguards who will warn off anybody who gets too close to you when out and about. Traditional burglar alarms can easily be disconnected, but a dog’s sensitive ears will always pick up any type of suspicious noise.
Often, the best guard dogs are extremely docile in their everyday lives, and they may look more imposing than they actually are. Luckily, a burglar is going to take one look at your Doberman or Rottweiler and run the other way even if you know your pup would never hurt a fly.
Some of the best watchdogs may actually surprise you because of their diminutive stature. Breeds like terriers, dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Shih Tzus are all excellent at alerting you when someone is around who shouldn’t be, and their barks are often loud enough to scare away intruders.
8. Dog Owners Are Happier
They are also more likely to be socially active in addition to receive tremendous emotional support from their furry friends.
Pet owners also enjoy more satisfying relationships, as they tend to be less preoccupied and fearful than non-pet owners.
If you are anxious or depressed, spending time with a pup can help lift your spirits and make you calmer.
Pets lower production of the stress hormone cortisol and promote production of beneficial hormones like oxytocin. Studies have even proven that spending just five minutes with a dog can help increase your levels of endorphins and dopamine.
A dog is also a perfect cure for loneliness, as they will offer you the same enthusiastic greeting whether you leave the house for five minutes or several hours. Psychologists have proven that dog owners feel more included and have higher self-esteem because of this bond as well.
Many rehabilitation centers use therapy dogs to teach severely abused and neglected children how to trust another living creature and how to receive love and affection. Hospitals will also often use these pups to help their patients get through stressful procedures or operations.
9. A Dog Keeps You Fit
Come rain or shine, your companion needs a walk, and excuses such as tiredness or boredom simply won’t work.
Even the laziest person cannot resist the pleading eyes of a dog that knows it’s time for a run around the park.
Even throwing a ball in your backyard or wrestling with your dog on the floor is still a form of exercise. Taking your dog on long, rambling hikes through the country is a wonderful way to get physically fit and reduce stress at the same time.
Of course, getting a dog also requires you to make the commitment that you will exercise your pup no matter what. More than half of all dogs in the U.S. are currently overweight, and the causes of obesity are almost always eating too much and exercising too little.
An overweight dog has a much higher risk of getting other life-threatening conditions like diabetes, so it’s up to you to hold up your end of the bargain and take Fido out every day. Combining a healthy diet and adequate exercise are the easiest ways to ensure your pup lives a long life.
10. Dog Owners Live Longer
Researchers attributed the results to dog owners feeling less stressed, lonely, and anxious as well as getting regular exercise by taking their pets on walks.
The study also found that these positive effects applied only to those who owned dogs and not just pet owners in general.
Those who own a dog were found to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol and suffered fewer serious medical emergencies and minor ailments such as cold and flus.
Pet owners are also able to recover more quickly when they do fall ill. Simply stroking a dog for a few minutes has been proven to boost your immune system by increasing your production of IgA – one of your natural antibodies that protects against invading germs.
Even if you decide that now isn’t the right time to bring a dog into your home, you can still get many of the same health benefits by volunteering at your local shelter.
Walking the dogs and playing with them will make you a healthier person while also improving the quality of life for the animals you help – a true win-win situation.
11. A Dog Helps You Socialise
Most dog owners feel like they are members of a secret club.
Other owners will often approach them in parks, vet clinics, dog groomers, or even on the street to strike up a conversation about their dog.
You also may feel comfortable initiating interactions with strangers because you will instantly have a conversation topic to focus on.
Taking your friend along to a dog training center or puppy socialization class is also a great way to meet new people as the focus will be on the animals and not solely on you. Your dog will also teach you the value of trust, patience and devotion by simply being in your life.
Entire social networks actually exist online and via smartphone apps that allow you to make friends with other dog owners. You can create a profile for your pup, share pictures, and even arrange opportunities to meet up in person.
If your love life needs a boost, you may be in luck as well. Many online dating sites will match up dog owners with one another since you definitely have something in common.
12. A Dog Will Love You Unconditionally
There have been many incredible stories of the never-ending love of a dog for its master.
Hachiko was a Japanese Akita who would greet his owner at a train station in Japan every day after work.
Even after his owner died, Hachiko continued to wait at the same spot every day for nine years until his own death. The story has become a symbol of national pride for Japan and has spawned several movies.
Another remarkable dog story took place during the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. After a plane hit the tower he was working in, a blind man named Omar Eduardo Rivera and his guide dog Dorado began making their way down the stairs from the 71st floor.
Realizing that he didn’t think he would make it out in time, Rivera unclipped Dorado and tried to get him to go down the stairs alone.
Though the dog was originally swept away by the massive crowd of people, he returned to Rivera’s side a few minutes later and insisted on guiding him down the rest of the way. Both man and dog got out minutes before the building collapsed.