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Adopting A Shelter Dog In San Diego

Casper, a 7-year-old miniature poodle was 
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Credit: San Diego County

Above: Casper, a 7-year-old miniature poodle was pet of the week in San Diego County on September 7.


Carol Harris, a certified dog trainer, and the owner of The Educated Pet.

Dr. Katy Allen, a veterinarian with Veterinary Corporations of America in La Mesa.


San Diego is a dog-friendly County. Dozens of dog parks dot the region. You can even spend a day at the beach with your pooch.

We often hear that the best place to adopt a dog is from the local shelter. Hundreds of dogs are up for adoption at County shelters. But what should prospective pet owners consider when adopting a shelter dog?

Dr. Katy Allen is a veterinarian with Veterinary Corporations of America in La Mesa. She said think where you live when deciding what size, age and breed of dog to adopt.

Allen said if you want to adopt a puppy and you live in an apartment downtown, think about climbing up and down stairs while house training.

Allen said, "If you get a small dog and you live on a canyon, make sure they're big enough to protect themselves against coyotes and large birds."

She said when you are actually at the shelter choosing between a few dogs, "take the one that comes up to you wagging its tail, not the pretty one cowering in the corner."

San Diego dog trainer Carol Harris said most dogs are home alone during the day.

Harris said, "If you acclimate the dog to being alone they are fine."

But she said, "People need to think about how much exercise is required for a dog."

She said if your dog is antsy, not settling down and constantly wanting attention, that's a sign that they need more exercise.

"Dogs are social, they not designed to stay home for eight hours and then just have you flop down in front of the TV, they should be exercised in the morning and at night," Harris said.

To avoid behavioral problems like separation anxiety she said, leave your dog alone frequently with a chew toy to occupy them.

Harris said one way to help your dog become more comfortable staying home alone is to practice doing your leaving cues like grabbing your keys or packing a bag often. Then, she said, don't actually leave, so the dog doesn't get anxious when you do those things.

Harris said, "make homecomings quiet; wait to do a play session and take a walk."

Shelter animals are eligible for a free veterinary exam for a limited time right after they are adopted.

Allen said, "Just bring the paperwork from the shelter to vast majority of veterinary hospitals."

Some vets even offer free treatment for certain shelter diseases.

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