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Hi everybody! So tomorrow my husband and I are going with our current dog, Archie, to an adoption event. We're pre-approved for an adorable little mixed-breed puppy who was recently rescued from Korea (she was supposed to be raised for meat :eek:). And if she's a good fit, we want her! But I want to make sure I can get a good feel for her personality before we commit. Anybody have any good ideas for what we can do to evaluate her in the short span of time that we'll have before finalizing a decision? She's four months old, if that helps, so not a teeny tiny baby but still really young.

Here are the things I'm particularly concerned about:
  • Barkiness/Reactivity
  • Medium to low energy once she's an adult (I'm not sure how to gauge this, since I know basically all puppies are very energetic?)
  • Ability to settle/having a solid "off" switch
  • Confidence with new people and environments
  • Laid-back, easygoing attitude/ability to roll with things without getting high strung
Our dog Archie is a high-intensity, high-energy mini poodle mix whom we adopted as a 10-month-old, and for this dog we're hoping for a more toned-down personality who will still be up for being his playmate (he's veeery dog-friendly, especially with puppies, and actually plays very gently, so I don't worry too much about his compatibility - it's more that we can't handle two of him, haha!). Since I've never adopted a dog younger than 9 or 10 months, though, I'm not sure how you can tell what you're getting with a 4-month-old.

Any tips or advice?
 

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I don't think you will be able to answer even one of those questions while in that environment. With so much going on it will be hard to figure out. The pup and your dog may act completely differently at your home. It could take a few weeks or even a couple of months before the puppy show her true self.
 

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I think you'll be able to get a vibe off her in that environment- you'll definitely see how she does under stress. If she barking incessantly that's probably not a great sign. If she's cowering/shut down/fearful that's not great. That said, you're not going to see how she is when she's comfortable. Probably a good environment to judge confidence with new places/people, how reactive she is (although as a puppy this age that might just look like she's shut down), and how high strung she is under stress.



As for settling/off switch and energy level I think you're out of luck. I don't think there's any way to gauge adult energy level form puppies except by breed- which even then is a crapshoot and with a mutt isn't helpful at all. That's actually one of the main things I don't like about rescue puppies.


IMO I think its a good way to judge how she'll fit in, just not what she'll be like when she's calm.
 

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I agree with Dawnben. I would try to arrange a private meet-and-greet. I would also request a trial period of two weeks before you finalize the adoption. You'll really want to see how the new puppy interacts with your current dog. That's just not going to be possible at a chaotic adoption event. If the rescue group insists on making a final decision at the adoption event, I'd look elsewhere. An adoption should be a life-long commitment and thus the process shouldn't be rushed.
 

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I will say I think it's extremely hard to get a good idea of a dog's personality at a big crowded adoption event. A dog that behaves shyly there might be crazy at home, and a dog that acts crazy there might be more relaxed at home. It's also impossible to gauge activity level and energy in an evaluation. Best you just ask the foster home what she's like, and of course that could change as she gets older. My dog Stella was really quiet up until she was about 7-8 months old and now she's a really vocal dog. Many dogs don't find their "voice" until adolescence. I would say the only thing you will definitely be able to gauge at this event is how well she does with new people and in new situations. You will also see how she is with your dog, and if possible it would be a good idea to go to a quiet corner to have them interact, not amid all the commotion. In terms of evaluating her tolerance I would say do things like touch her feet, rub her a bit roughly, touch her face, ears, mouth, etc. See how she reacts.

I have to say in my personal opinion though that a dog bred for meat in Korea...does not sound like a dog that will necessarily well socialized and very happy to meet strangers or confident. This is compounded by the fact many Asian breeds are guard dogs prized for wariness of strangers and aggression, as well as just pariah dogs that are treated like rats, or in this experience...dinner. If you feel like you require (or just really really want) a dog that is low energy, friendly and outgoing, and tolerant that I don't know if going with a rescue dog of an unknown history and breed mix--even moreso from foreign country, is a good idea. Rescue dogs are a gamble on what they'll be like, and a rescue dog from another country is an even bigger gamble.

It's possible that this dog might be great, but I think if you really want a low energy, friendly dog you're better off getting a rescue puppy of known breeds, or a purebred puppy from a breeder. Or really, you might even be better getting a calm adult, but it sounds like you want a puppy.
 
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We're happy with either a puppy or an adult, though we have a cat so that makes adults a little tougher to find in my experience. We adopted our current dog a 10 months, though, and he's been great.

I agree with rescue puppies it's kind of a gamble, which is why I was hoping there was at least something we could see at an event. We have had a chance to talk to the rescue coordinator quite a bit already and we should be able to talk to the foster family tomorrow as well, so we'll just have to ask questions. So far they said she's been friendly and outgoing, and they said they don't have any worries that she'll socialize well. But it's still a gamble, in my opinion.

We'll see how it goes tomorrow...I guess we'll just have to talk to the rescue quite a bit, get her away from the hustle and bustle and hang out for a while before we make a final decision. Honestly we can handle most personalities and types of dogs - I just worry a little about my sanity if we end up with two Archies. He's awesome, but he's plenty all on his own. :p
 

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Since you already have a lot of experience with dogs, I think you'll be able to make a fairly good assessment if you can spend time with the potential new addition away from the hustle and bustle of the event. I would just encourage you to take your time and not rush any decision.
 

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This isn't any sort of judgement on where are adopting from LisasGirl, but I'm super surprised (and appalled) that an organization is bringing dogs into California, where there's such a high kill-rate of dogs. Many small mixes are brought from California into Canada since our shelters are empty of small dogs (particularly on the West Coast), but California shelters are out of control already. I question the ethics of that rescue, quite frankly. :(

Good for you for adopting a dog though, it's definitely needed.
 

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This isn't any sort of judgement on where are adopting from LisasGirl, but I'm super surprised (and appalled) that an organization is bringing dogs into California, where there's such a high kill-rate of dogs. Many small mixes are brought from California into Canada since our shelters are empty of small dogs (particularly on the West Coast), but California shelters are out of control already. I question the ethics of that rescue, quite frankly. :(

Good for you for adopting a dog though, it's definitely needed.
I will say I do know some specific rescue organizations that will rescue dogs in really bad situations like Korean meat dogs. Often they're spread all over to different rescues. I don't see anything *that* wrong with it but sometimes certain dogs are more desirable than others in certain areas. I'm in the NJ/NY area. Lots of our shelter dogs are Pitties, and New England pulls a lot of them. We get dogs from the south that are a bigger variety of breeds. But I am more adverse to dogs from other countries than in North America.
 

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I'll tell you this....If you were to meet a puppy of that age from a reputable breeder, in a similar situation? It would be an outgoing, social puppy that wants to say hi and greet people and play. If importing, they are shipped to their new homes at 4 months old, and they come out of the airline crate after being shipped cargo happy and energetic and curious. They may startle at a loud noise, but they bounce right back. That is what a stable temperament looks like in a pup. They have a high threshold for stress, and can handle change and business in stride.

If you meet her and she's a stressball? You are likely looking at a more genetically fearful or shy temperament. If she's shy, hiding, barking, worried, performing repetitive behaviors...There's a greater chance you might have issues with fear or reactivity as she grows up. That doesn't mean she won't be playful and more relatively normal at home once she's adjusted. You might see that side of her if you do arrange a meet in private in quiet. And it doesn't mean she won't turn out a well-adjusted dog. But it does say that she has a lower threshold for stress and the unknown, and will require more careful training and socialization.

So it can tell you a bit. IMO, a pretty important bit. But it ultimately depends on what you want and what you can handle. I'm an active individual and I like a dog that can fit my lifestyle and do a lot of things. I want the dog I described first. I want a naturally outgoing, fearless pup that has a high threshold for stress. I prefer not to take my chances with a more shy pup.
 

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I have no idea how the adoption event is being organized, but will you have the opportunity to spend some time with the puppy in a relatively quiet area--like a small separate room--where you can interact without all the noise and chaos of a big event going on?

It's also great that you'll be able to talk to the puppy's foster family, who can give you a better idea of how the puppy's been in a family situation, perhaps with other pets (if they have pets of their own). If there's an area where you can assess the pup's ability to catch on to basic commands, see how it handles being on a leash etc., that's helpful too. I was fortunate in that the shelter from which I adopted my current dog allowed me to spend considerable time with him both indoors and out and then let me observe him interacting with other dogs and a cat, not to mention other people, including kids, before I sealed the deal, so to speak. But it was a smaller shelter where that may be easier to do.
 

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Going to be difficult at best. When we adopted Samantha from the local shelter, we visited her there on three occasions, before we made our decision. Even then there is an element of luck involved. In our case luck was with all of us, Samantha was and is a perfect fit for us. We also worked with the behaviorist on staff at the shelter, who observed my and wife and I interacting with Samantha. You will need to try to spend some time with the puppy, in a relatively quiet area, if that would be possible.
 

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Ah, yes, I'm back for an update!

Well, the adoption event was a little chaotic because it rained and so they had to scrunch into a smaller space to keep everyone dry. I was a little nervous, but luckily they were able to use a quiet room in the warehouse as well as a deserted back parking lot for our meet-and-greet. We spent probably a half an hour alone with her, walking her around separately, then together with our dog Archie.

She was great! Curious, relaxed, friendly, neither hyper nor shut down or fearful or anything - it was like she does this every day. I was really surprised. We got more time with her because there was a delay before they let us sign off on all the contract paperwork (just a few people doing contracts and loooots of adoptions), so we also got to hang out with her back inside the busy store. She seemed less stressed than Archie, who has a hard time in situations when he can't meet every single friendly-looking stranger that he sees.

So...we adopted her!! Her name is Cleo, short for Cleopatra, and she's been fabulous the last few days. She tends to really gulp food (which makes sense, since she's still underweight even after being in foster for a while), so we're hand-feeding her, usually next to Archie so we can head off any guarding issues before they show up. I've been taking her out and about with me every day, and she's just fine though a little nervous around noisy machinery like lawn-mowers. But she's willingly greeted every human (including men and children) or friendly dog we've come across, and she and Archie are playing like crazy. So so far, at least, it looks like a success! :thumbsup:

Here's a picture of her hanging out next to me in the office. The sleepy one is Archie - the one who looks like a baby fox is Cleo.
 

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