Shelters can match you with the right dog

Posted3/14/2012 2:49 PM

Q. I want to adopt the right dog for my family. How do I choose?

-- Tamika Williams, Bartlett


A. Looking for a dog can be overwhelming, so many bright, wide eyed dogs to choose from. Whether this is your first dog or just an addition to your pack, the choices abound.

Local shelters have many methods to help you identify personality traits, even within the stray population of dogs in their care. Some examples involve magazine-type surveys; one such program is Meet Your Match. This program evaluates not only a dog's behavior, but also takes into account your expectations. This combination proves a great guide to finding just the right "Fluffy" or "Fido" for your home. While the formal researched programs are helpful, there cannot be enough said about the dedicated shelter staff, fosters and volunteers who get to know the animals daily and are eager to help you in your search.

Many shelters also evaluate the temperament geared at identifying aggressive tendencies in dogs. This evaluation helps identify how a dog reacts in simulated life situations, like when you reach down for his rawhide, adjust his food bowl or simply offer a hug. This is need-to-know information, especially for a family with children.

While these tests and tools are not a guarantee, they still can aid in your decision making. Remember that even the best tools and predictors are no replacement for common sense, most importantly to never leave your children unattended with your dog.

The goal is forever homes with strong bonds that last a lifetime. Pets are not disposable items, but remember you're not expected to know it all. Reach out to your local shelter for advice as you need it, we are here to help.

• Kerry Vinkler is director of DuPage County Animal Care and Control. Submit questions about the animal community at

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