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60 Questions to Ask When Adopting a Dog (2024 Guide)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

puppy in a crate

Many pet parents live by the adage, “Don’t shop, adopt.” However, when it comes to adopting a dog, it’s critical to do a lot of digging before bringing a dog home from the shelter. Unlike young puppies you buy from a reputable breeder, shelter dogs may come with a long, sometimes harsh, history.

Whether you decide to bring home a senior dog from the pound or a teenage pup from a local shelter group, you need to know precisely what you’re getting yourself into. While these 60 questions are a good starting point, the information on any breed will vary. Dogs in a shelter situation may not be able to be thoroughly assessed until they’re placed in a home environment.

That’s why adopting a dog from a foster family is a good idea. Since they had an opportunity to get to know the dog, they’ll be able to tell you all about their personality traits and quirks.

Remember, never feel pressured into adopting a dog. You want to ensure that they are the perfect match for your household. A dog, even a senior one, is a considerable commitment of time and money.

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The 8 Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Why do you want a dog?
  2. What type of dog do you want? A young puppy, teenager, or senior?
  3. Does every family member want a dog?
  4. Are they all willing to make adjustments to care for the dog properly?
  5. Are they ready to provide consistent training to the dog?
  6. Where will the dog sleep?
  7. Where will they go to the bathroom?
  8. Is your budget ready for a dog?
young fawn mixed breed puppy licking hand
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

The 7 Questions to Ask the Shelter or Foster Family

  1. How did the dog come to be in the foster home or shelter?
  2. How long have they been there?
  3. Why was the dog surrendered?
  4. Is there any history or evidence of abuse?
  5. Where does the dog sleep at night? Is it in a dog bed or a crate?
  6. How do they sleep at night?
  7. Has the dog been to a groomer? How did it go?

The 9 Health Questions to Ask

  1. Has the dog undergone a general wellness exam performed by a vet? When? Do they have any known medical issues?
  2. What type of dog are they?
  3. Is the dog fixed?
  4. Are they up to date on all vaccines, including rabies and distemper?
  5. Do you have medical records to prove this?
  6. Is the dog on preventative medicines, including flea/tick and heartworm?
  7. Are they microchipped?
  8. Has the dog had a Snap 4 DX test? A vet performs the blood test. Though not required, it provides valuable insight into the dog’s health and is a screening process for six vector-borne diseases, including heartworm and Lyme.
  9. Do they have allergies?

The 3 Housebreaking Questions to Ask

  1. Is the dog housebroken? Do they give any signals when they need to go outside?
  2. How often do they get let out or walked?
  3. What’s their potty schedule?
an old lady walking her dogs
Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay

The 7 Dog Energy Questions to Ask

  1. How energetic is the dog?
  2. How much exercise are they currently getting every day?
  3. How long are the daily walks?
  4. Do they relax and cuddle up with you when you’re ready to stop playing?
  5. What are their favorite games? (Fetch, walking, swimming, etc.)
  6. Would they be good to take for runs or hikes?
  7. Can they swim?

The 4 Crate Training Questions to Ask

  1. Are they crate-trained?
  2. If not, how do they act when you leave them alone and loose in the house? Any unwanted chewing?
  3. How does the dog act in the crate? Are they calm, or do they bark?
  4. How are they in the crate when left alone?

The 14 Behavioral Questions to Ask

  1. Do they get along with other dogs?
  2. How do they act around new dogs on the leash and off? (Ask to see the dog interact with another dog).
  3. Has the dog been around children before?
  4. Do they get along with kids? Toddlers?
  5. Do they hoard food or toys?
  6. Do they get aggressive around their food or toys?
  7. Does the dog have separation anxiety?
  8. Do they bark a lot when left alone?
  9. How long can the dog be left alone?
  10. Do they have any fears, including loud noises or thunder?
  11. Has the dog been exposed to cats? How did it go?
  12. How does the dog act around strangers? Are they shy, aggressive, or friendly?
  13. Have they ever bitten or attacked anyone?
  14. How is the dog in the car?
lab puppy chewing carpet
Image credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

The 8 Dog Training Questions to Ask

  1. Have they had any formal training?
  2. What commands does the dog know? Are there specific words or hand signals?
  3. How does the dog walk on a leash? A harness?
  4. What type of collar are they used to? Pronged, choke, etc.?
  5. Does the dog pull or lunge at people, other dogs, or bicycles?
  6. Is the dog food motivated?
  7. Do they have any behavioral issues?
  8. What type of discipline works best?

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Final Thoughts

It’s essential to be as thorough as possible when learning about the history, temperament, and health of a dog you might adopt. Remember, a dog isn’t just something you buy on a whim. They’re a living, breathing creature that needs love, care, attention, and training.


Featured Image Credit: Ilona Krijgsman, Pixabay

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