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What to look for when adopting a dog

Men's Fitness logo Men's Fitness 6/5/2017 AMI

What to look for when adopting a dog © AMI What to look for when adopting a dog Thinking of adopting a shelter dog, but have heard some horror stories about pups turning into psychotic, untrainable balls of fur? There's a trick to picking the right one. 

The key is friendliness. That’s the No. 1 quality to look for, says canine behavior expert Sue Sternberg, author of Successful Dog Adoption.

6 ways to ease your dog's anxiety naturally (from Organic Life)

Take a look at your routine: <p>Before shelling out for any products that promise to soothe your pup’s stress, consider how you might be able to help him feel calmer. “Most of the time, pet owners do have to do something different to help manage and improve their dog’s anxiety,” explains veterinary behaviorist Meredith Stepita, DVM. For instance, having a predictable daily routine that helps your dog anticipate when he’ll get to eat, go outside, and spend time playing with you could help him feel more confident and less nervous. That’s especially true if his stress seems to stem from separation anxiety, Stepita says.</p><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/wellbeing/18-adventure-loving-dogs-that-will-inspire-you-to-get-off-your-butt-and-go-outside">18 Adventure-Loving Dogs That Will Inspire You To Get Off Your Butt And Go Outside</a></strong></p> 6 Ways To Ease Your Dog’s Anxiety Naturally

How to spot it? Look for a dog that:

Comes to the front of his kennel, eager to make a connection.Keeps his ears back (not forward and aroused) and his forehead smooth (not wrinkled in anger).Wags his tail wide and low—a sign of friendliness, says Sternberg—not high above his back."From the front, especially when he’s looking at you, the sociable dog’s head and spine won’t be in full alignment,” she says. “That’s more military, like someone ready to go to war, not meet a friend.”

Of course, a dog needs to not just look friendly but also be friendly, so:

“Take him into a room on a leash, lean against a wall, and ignore him for 30 seconds. Then sit and keep ignoring him while you watch his behavior for 10 seconds.” Meaning: Resist the urge to be affectionate until the time has passed. "You want a dog that wants your attention, petting, and loving, even if it’s jumping up on you—jumping up, as long as it’s gentle, is a training, not a temperament, issue,” Sternberg says. “But you don’t want the one that yanks on his leash trying to get away from you.”

Pet the dog using slow, deep strokes. “The easiest dogs will become calm and relaxed with stroking; difficult dogs will get more stimulated.”Next, if the shelter allows it, unleash the dog and walk around the room to see if he stays close and attentive.Finally, ask if you can take him out for a leash walk, and try to get within about 10 feet of another dog (no closer). Keep him moving and ask him to pass. You want a dog that doesn’t pull or strain to fight, and refocuses on you easily after you pass.

A last note: Always pick a no-kill shelter—we like New York’s North Shore Animal League, the San Francisco SPCA, and the nationwide Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

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