Adopting a dog from a shelter is a wonderful way to give a furry friend a second chance at a happy life. But before you bring your new companion home, it's important to pay attention to their body language. By learning to read your dog's signals, you can better understand their needs and create a loving, supportive environment for them.
When you're at the shelter, take some time to observe the dogs in their kennels. This will give you a chance to see how they interact with each other and with potential adopters. Pay attention to their posture and movements, as well as their facial expressions and vocalizations. These can all provide valuable clues about a dog's state of mind and their overall temperament.
One of the most important things to watch for is fear or anxiety. Dogs who are nervous or scared may exhibit a range of behaviors, including avoiding eye contact, tucking their tail between their legs, and flattening their ears against their head. They may also whine, bark, or growl when approached, or try to retreat to a safe space. If a dog is displaying these signs, it's important to give them plenty of space and allow them to approach you on their own terms.
Another important signal to watch for is aggression. Dogs who are feeling aggressive may stand stiffly with their tail held high and their hackles raised. They may also bare their teeth, growl, or snap at other dogs or people. If a dog is displaying aggressive behavior, it's important to avoid making direct eye contact or approaching them too closely. Instead, try to redirect their attention to a toy or treat, and give them plenty of space to calm down.
In addition to watching for fear and aggression, it's also important to pay attention to a dog's overall energy level. Some dogs may be very active and playful, while others may be more relaxed and low-key. It's important to choose a dog who is a good match for your lifestyle and activity level. For example, if you're an avid runner, you may want to look for a high-energy dog who loves to go on long runs with you. On the other hand, if you prefer a more relaxed pace, you may want to look for a dog who is content to lounge on the couch with you.
Overall, the key to adopting a happy, healthy dog from a shelter is to pay attention to their body language and behavior. By learning to read your dog's signals, you can create a supportive, loving environment for them and help them adjust to their new home.
Read our full guide, with more body language tips, information about various breeds, what to have ready at home for the 1st day, and much, much, much more.