SALT LAKE CITY — Dogs are said to be man’s best friend, and friends should be chosen carefully.
While looking to adopt, it is important to remember each dog is unique and will react differently to various situations, according to Humane Society of Utah director of operations Carlene Wall.
“Just because you had a golden retriever in the past, that doesn’t mean the golden retriever we have here is going to be the best fit,” she said. “Look at their individual personalities and fall in love with that instead of the breed.”
Below are some tips to keep in mind while choosing your next canine companion.
Take the dog on a walk
Prospective owners should spend as much time as possible with multiple dogs before making a decision, Wall said. Taking dogs on a walk and playing outside will provide opportunities to learn about how it might behave at home.
The more people in the family who meet the dog before it comes home the better.
Think about personality
Different breeds have different personality traits, so it is important to find a dog that fits your lifestyle, according to Wall. She said if someone likes to sit around and watch TV, a dog like a Siberian husky that needs a lot of exercise probably won’t be a good fit. On the flip side, a basset hound isn’t going to be the best jogging companion.
“We ask them to make the best choice for them,” she said.
Facts about different dog breeds can be found on the American Kennel Club website.
Let the dog meet current pets
Some dogs can be aggressive toward other animals, so even though the Humane Society does its own aggression assessment before putting animals up for adoption, Wall suggested bringing current family pets to meet new dogs before making a decision about whether they will behave together.
Locations like the play areas at the Humane Society can serve as a neutral territory for dogs to meet. She suggested leaving the dogs on their leashes during the meet-and-greet so owners can quickly grab control if something happens that they aren’t comfortable with.
Owners should keep in mind the fact that resource guarding of toys and food can trigger aggression in dogs.
“If you have any question, you should never feed them together or let them have food or treats around when new animals are just meeting so they aren’t trying to take over each other’s stuff,” she said.
Watch for signs of discomfort
Dogs send distress signals with their body and will stiffen up when they are uncomfortable, Wall said.
“Animals that stay soft, happy, wagging and wiggly — those guys are just going to sit and play,” she said. “But if they stiffen up, their ears go back or their eyes get hard, those are all warning signs that something is making them uncomfortable and that can make them react."