There is no one selection process when it comes to the family dog. Very few families are looking for pure bloodlines and show dogs but, there aren’t looking for a junk yard dog either. When you decide to choose a dog from the shelter there is a lot to consider.
Even before you go to the shelter take a look at your family situation. What are your living arrangements? If you are an apartment or condo dweller expect to have to take a reasonable amount of walks with the dog. He or she will have to be smaller and mild tempered to be happy in a small setting. If you live in a suburban setting with plenty of yard you might not have to walk your dog as much but, unless there is a fence you might have to install one to keep it from running away. A larger dog would be good for a suburban family but, keep in mind how much time and attention you can give the dog. If you live on several acres and there is plenty of space for the dog to run you will need to avoid smaller dogs that get lost in the wide open. Coyotes and hawks have been known to attack a smaller animal so a large dog with a lot of energy may be your best option.
What are the dynamics of your family? Small children may do better with an older dog that is used to dealing with kids. Many times in a shelter the adoption coordinator will have some kind of history about the dog. Where did it come from, what kind of background does it have and who owned it before it came to the shelter. Not all dogs in the shelter have been abused. Many come from loving families that can no longer properly care for the dog.
If you are really at a loss about what kind of dog to get; take a tour of the shelter. See how they react to people when they are in the cage. If he or she is jumping around in the cage that dog would not be good with small children. If the dog is cowering in the corner and you have rambunctious kids that wouldn’t be a good match either. What about the dog that stands patiently and quietly wagging its tail? Take the entire family to interact with the dog. The adoption is just as much about the dog as it is the family. If there is no dog there at the time of your visit talk to the shelter and tell them what temperament of dog you are looking for. There is a dog out there waiting to adopt your family; not the other way around.