How to Pick a Dog for Adoption

Adopting or rescuing a dog can be a wonderful life-changing experience. However, it’s very important to educate yourself and know what to look for. All dogs deserve to find good homes, but you want to have a good idea of the kind of dog you are bringing home and if they’d be a good fit for you and your family. Jimi takes us through some tips on how to pick a dog for adoption.

How to Pick a Dog – Things to consider

  1. Consider a variety of breeds. Do some research online prior to your visit on which breeds might be right for you. Some breeds are more active than others so be sure you can provide the type of exercise they need. If you don’t have much room (e.g. you live in an apartment), there are alternative ways your dog may be able to exercise such as on a treadmill.
  2. Do NOT rely on the opinions of the facility’s staff. They are there to get dogs adopted, not to make sure you are going home with the perfect dog. Think about if you are going to buy a new car at a dealership. Their staff is going to say good things about every car they have!
  3. Take the dog to a quiet place, preferably outside of the facility away from noises and other dogs. You’ll get a better idea of what the dog will be like coming home with you this way.
  4. Begin by calmly petting and touching different areas of the dog. Notice if the dog resists any of your touches. Determine if the resistance is negative or if they are just unsure of what you are doing. Ideally, the dog should not react negatively to your touch with aggression or fear. Be sure to touch areas such as the mouth, head, behind, tail, underside, etc.
  5. Let the dog roam around. Is the dog following you? Is the dog curious and exploring the area? If so, that’s a good thing and shows the dog has confidence.
  6. Move your hands and legs around. Wave them in different directions and gauge how well the dog is paying attention and following your movement. Move closer and see how the dog reacts to this movement.
  7. Check the dog’s teeth. See if any are broken or missing. Feel around the dog for scars or bumps. This can give you an idea of the dog’s past.
  8. If you are unsure or want help, hire a professional to go with you and assist in evaluating the dogs before you bring one home!

We are here for you!

We’d love for you to share your adoption experiences with us in the comments below. We do our best to answer every question posted!



  1. j johns April 12, 2013 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    pretty girl

  2. Ann Drexel March 20, 2016 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Hello, I love your videos and would like to purchase training materials(books )

    Sam the Bel. Malinois is incredible.

    I will be getting a Poodle puppy in about
    8 weeks.

  3. Leslie May 24, 2018 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    I’d love training materials as well. My dog is definitely attached to me and I am to her. She is a good listener and had had some training. I’d like to use her as a companion dog that can visit children who are ill…or even a medical dog that can spot cancer, as I have been diagnosed with it.
    Can u help?

    • Dog Guru May 29, 2018 at 11:36 am - Reply

      Hi Leslie, please use the contact form on our website and let us know what kind of help you’re looking for. Thank you!

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