Adopting a dog from the newspaper

In addition to responsible breeders and animal shelters, there are private owners looking to find good homes for their dogs. If you decide to adopt a dog from a classified ad, there are two things to consider. First, owners will sell their dog because it has health or behavioral problems. Second, the owner may not be upfront with you about these problems. This makes it important to examine the dog thoroughly before you commit to adopting him. He may not have problems, but you should be prepared.

Questions to ask

Do your homework. If the dog in question is purebred or a cross breed, research those breeds before you visit the owner. Make sure the characteristics of the breed fit your lifestyle and expectations. Before adopting the dog, here are some questions to ask:

Why are you giving the dog up?

The owner may not be honest if the dog has health or behavioral issues so be wary if he or she doesn’t have a compelling reason.

Has the dog ever bitten anyone or shown any aggression?

Be direct. You want to know up front if you might adopt a dog with problems. Also ask if there are any children in the house or nearby that play with the dog or care for him. If there’s a family involved, ask that they be present to see how they interact with their pet. Watching them can provide clues as to whether the dog is properly socialized and if the family is being honest about their reasons for selling him.

Who has been caring for the dog professionally?

This includes veterinarians, groomers, and pet sitters. If need be, these people can serve as references to verify that the dog is healthy and sociable and that the owner is being honest with you.

What’s the dog’s medical history?

Ask about vaccinations and worm treatments as well as other care he has received. If the owner has nothing in writing, ask for the name of their veterinarian to verify the dog’s health record.

Can I have the dog examined by my veterinarian?

Some owners will allow it and some won’t. Do it at your own expense and offer to take the owner with you so it doesn’t look like you’re running off with their pet.

Is there anything else I should know about the dog?

Get as much information as possible about the dog’s diet, grooming requirements, and whether he’s had any obedience training. Also ask whether he has special needs such as dietary supplements or medications. This will let you know what to expect after you bring him home. Purebreds should have a registration certificate and possibly a pedigree chart. Ask for any documentation before you decide to adopt the dog.

Check health and temperament

Perform the examinations necessary when choosing a puppy from a litter. Check ears, eyes, nose, and coat for any problems. Watch the dog for signs of pain or discomfort in motion, which may signal orthopedic problems. In the process, get a feel for his temperament as best you can under the circumstances.

Be patient and objective when talking with the owner and looking over the dog. You don’t want to offend him or her and lose out on the chance to adopt a dog that’s perfect for you.

Unlike responsible breeders and rescue organizations, people who place classified ads may not be concerned with how good of a match you are for their dog. You’ll need to be the one to decide if you’re the right person for the job.

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