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So, you’ve decided to adopt a dog. You’ve made an excellent choice by deciding to adopt an animal rather than buy one from a retail store or breeder. Animals in shelters are very much in need of a good home and will be as good a pet if not better than one with pedigree papers.

Hopefully you’ve determined that you do, in fact, have the time, space, and money for a new pet. You will want to decide what size animal will best fit your household and preferences.

It’s best to go to an adoption shelter with an open mind about types of breeds, however there are many shelters specifically for certain breeds such as German Shepherds. If you prefer a large dog, do your research about how much space and exercise they require. Also be aware that the first year of owning a new dog can cost between $1,000 and $1,500 which includes food, veterinarian visits and medication, toys, treats, spay/neuter, collar, lease, crate, and grooming.

You are looking for the dog that enjoys your company as much as you enjoy theirs. There are several ways to tell whether a dog likes being around people and is free from behavioral problems that may cause heartbreak down the road. You will want to be especially careful in the selection process if this animal will frequently be around children and other pets.

When you first approach a dog’s kennel, he should come towards you eagerly and sniff your extended hand. You can also slowly move your hand back and forth - a friendly dog will follow it. Avoid dogs who hide in the back of their cages. Obviously, a dog who barks, snarls, or lunges toward you is not a good choice for a gentle companion.

Dog trainers will often accompany you to the shelter to help you choose an animal, but they may charge for this service. Once you and everyone else in your household feel comfortable with your choice of a new pet, it’s time to begin the adoption paperwork.

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