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34 Dog Adoption Interview Questions

There’s much to think about when you’re adopting a dog, but before your new furry friend moves in, get ready for dog adoption interview questions.

They’re an important part of the doggie adoption process, both on your end as well as on the shelter or rescue organization.

Why are they so important?

Beagle behind gate

Well, you’ll want to learn as much as possible about your potential new furry friend to make sure they’re a good fit for you and your lifestyle. 

Likewise, the shelter wants to avoid having to rehome their pup multiple times.

So they’re going to do their darndest to find them the right home – and that includes asking what may seem like a ton of (personal) dog adoption interview questions.

They’re also pretty much all the questions I had to answer when I was getting ready to foster my now pup Wally. 

Yes, I know, that makes me a foster failure, but it’s good to know that the foster screening questions are the same as the adoption screening questions!

Besides answering the myriad of questions, I also had to send in a video of my home. 

Usually, this particular rescue organization – It Takes A Village in NC –  sends someone out to do a home inspection in person.

But since I lived over an hour away from them, they asked if I could take a video instead. 

OK, ready to learn more along with dog adoption interview tips? Let’s jump right in!

Dog Adoption Interview Questions That Shelters or Rescue Organizations Ask Potential Adopters

Like I said, rescues screen potential adopters because they want to make sure that they match them with the right dog. 

After all, that dog may still have their entire life ahead of them, and that can easily be upwards of 10 years!

That’s why they’re looking for any red flags in your answers to their dog adoption questionnaire.

So be prepared for the following pet adoption interview questions:

1. Why Do You Want To Adopt This Dog/Breed?

The shelter wants to find out if you have a preference for female or male dogs, puppies, young dogs, senior pups as well as specific dog breeds.

They’re also interested in the reasoning behind your answer. 

Do you believe that female dogs are gentler than male dogs? 

Do you think that male dogs make better guard dogs? 

Are you ready to watch a puppy grow up into an adult dog and, more importantly, do you have the energy, time and financial means to raise a puppy? 

Do you want a senior pup because you expect them to be slower than a younger dog?

Are you prepared to care for a lovable mutt whose DNA is a mix of high energy dog breeds?

Are you looking for a PitBull type dog as a status symbol? Answering “yes” to that one will definitely raise a red flag.

Are you aware of the grooming needs of a double coated dog?

You get the gist.

2. Would You Adopt A Dog With A Disability?

There are many specially-abled pups as shelters love to call them. 

These are your:

  • Tripod dogs who are missing a leg
  • Partially paralyzed dogs who need specific dog wheelchairs to get around
  • Deaf dogs
  • Blind dogs
  • Deaf and blind dogs

While these pups obviously need some extra help to get through life, they still make wonderful, lovable dogs who have lots of love to give themselves. 

Do you have what it takes to adopt a special needs dog? 

The shelter wants to know!

Have You Had Dogs Before?

Even if you’ve had dogs before, the shelter wants to gauge how experienced you are in handling dogs. 

Especially if you’re interested in adopting a breed that doesn’t make the best first-time dog because of known behavioral issues.

This doesn’t mean that potential adopters without previous dog experience automatically get disqualified. 

It just means that the rescue staff will be able to direct them to dogs who are more suitable to their experience than others.

3. What Happened To Your Previous Dog?

Next on the list of dog adoption interview questions is if you’ve had dogs before?

If you did, the rescue is going to want to know what happened to your last dog. 

For example, did he die of natural causes or due to an illness, did you leave your dog behind when you moved, etc. 

Know that the latter would definitely be a red flag!

My answer was that my pup Missy died of a second cancer diagnosis and that her brother Buzz moved in with my ex-husband in a different state after we separated. 

4. Have You Ever Surrendered A Dog?

Again, the shelter wants to know what happened to any of your dogs in the past, and that includes whether or not you’ve ever surrendered a dog. 

I suppose it would depend on the specific circumstances, but my guess is that a “Yes” to this question may disqualify you from adopting a dog.

5. Are You A Homeowner Or Do You Rent?

This is a very important question. 

If you rent your home, the shelter is going to ask to see your lease and/or contact your landlord or apartment complex to make sure that dogs are allowed.

If you own your home, they’re going to ask if there’s an HOA and whether or not they allow dogs. 

When I adopted Wally, I was a homeowner with an HOA who allowed dogs in general with the exception of certain breeds classified as dangerous. 

6. If You Live In A House, Do You Have A Fenced-In Yard?

Another important one, the famous fenced-in yard question. 

Shelters are going to want to know your approach to keeping your dog safe. 

Along that line, they want to know if the yard is fully fenced or if it’s a work-in-project. 

They prefer for your yard to be fully fenced, but may be willing to work with you if it’s not, depending on the individual circumstances.

7. Is Your Dog Going To Be An Inside Dog Or An Outside Dog?

On that note, you’re not planning to turn your dog into an outside dog just because you have a yard, are you? 

That would be a guaranteed red flag for the shelter or rescue organization. 

They’re looking for a loving home for the pup which includes the comfort of an inside home.

8. Where Will Your Dog Sleep?

Another related topic is their sleeping place. Again, you don’t intend to let them sleep outside in a dog house, right?

Instead, the shelter wants to know if you’ll be crating your pup at night or if they’ll be sleeping on their very own dog bed. 

Either could be in your bedroom, but of course that’s not a prerequisite. 

9. What Kind Of Food Will You Feed Your Dog?

Obviously, there’s a myriad of dog food options available these days. 

Anything from kibble, canned dog food, home cooked diets, dehydrated or freeze-dried dog foods, premade raw dog food or DIY raw dog food – the list is seemingly endless. 

The shelter asks this question because they want to know whether or not you’ve given this topic some thought. 

They also want to know if you’re willing to adjust the dog’s diet depending on any specific dietary needs they may have. 

I personally am a raw feeder and switched Wally from kibble to raw dog food when I adopted him. 

Partially because I believe in the power of raw dog food, but also because Wally has lots of food sensitivities that the kibble he ate catered to.

10. What About A Doggie Door?

Also, if you have a yard, they’ll want to know if your dog will be able to access it via a doggie door

There’s going to be more follow up questions regarding that doggie door. 

For example, is this your strategy for letting your dog go potty when they’re home alone, is it large enough for the dog you’re planning to adopt, and is your yard safe for your dog to be alone in?

11. How Are You Going To Exercise Your Dog?

This is related to the yard and doggie door questions, especially if you’re interested in adopting a high energy dog. 

While it’s great to have a fenced-in yard, it doesn’t replace walking, hiking and/or running your pup. 

High energy dogs who are left to their own devices in a yard are likely to come up with questionable activities to entertain themselves.

This includes excessive barking, digging up your flowers and composting area, jumping the fence, etc.  

12. Are You Going To Use Positive Reinforcement When Training Your Dog?

Ongoing socialization and reward based dog training are important in helping your adopted pup adjust to their new home and life. 

That’s why the shelter doesn’t want to hear that you’ll be using prong collars or confrontational dog training approaches.

13. Do You Have A Support System For Your Dog?

This can include other family members, trustworthy neighbors or friends, professional dog walkers/pet sitters or doggie day care.

Essentially, the rescue wants to know what you’re going to do with your dog when you’re traveling for work or going on a vacation.

14. Do You Have A Significant Other Or Roommates?

They’ll also want to know if you’re married, in a long term relationship or if you share your home with a roommate. 

In that context, they want to know if everyone who lives in your home is on the same page as far as adopting a dog. 

Because if one of the parties doesn’t share your enthusiasm for a dog, the pup may very well end up at the shelter again. 

And that’s obviously not what the shelter wants for their animals. 

15. Do You Have Children?

Another aspect to consider on the list of dog adoption interview questions are children. 

Not necessarily to find out how excited your kids are about a dog (which kid isn’t?!), but to ensure that you’ll be matched with a dog who does well around children. 

Because not every dog does!

Does Anyone In Your Family Have Dog Allergies?

If you, your significant other, kids or roommates get an allergy attack whenever they’re around dogs, you’re unlikely to be matched with a pup. 

Unless the shelter has dogs who are considered hypoallergenic. 

For example, any hairless breeds, Portuguese Water Dogs, Spanish Water Dogs, Poodles, Bichons, Maltese, (Miniature) Schnauzers, Coton de Tulear and a few others.

16. Do You Have Other Pets?

If you have other pets, the shelter wants to know so they can match you with a dog who does well with other dogs and/or cats, ferrets, guinea pigs, etc. 

17. Do You Have A Vet?

They’ll also want to know if you already have a vet or if you’ll need help finding one. 

If you already have a vet, they’ll likely contact them to vet you, pun intended. 

When I adopted Wally, I put my vet down as a reference and sure enough, the rescue organization did contact them! 

They also inquired about Missy’s euthanization at the vet.

18. How Often Will You Take Your Dog To The Vet?

Dogs need more or less frequent check-ups, depending on their age and medical history. 

So the shelter wants to make sure you know that adult dogs need annual wellness exams and senior pups should see the vet biannually.

19. Are You Planning On Getting A Dog Insurance Plan?

On that note, do you have the financial means to pay for your dog’s vet visits, expected and unexpected?

If you struggle financially, pet insurance may be an option to explore. 

You’ll get the best rates for puppies and younger dogs. 

Your shelter and/or vet may have a pet insurance recommendation for you. Otherwise you can do your own research online. 

20. Do You Work From Home?

Besides asking about your employment status, they’ll also want to know if you work from home. 

Obviously, they love that scenario! 

If you don’t, they’ll want to know if you can make it home on your lunch break to give your dog a chance to stretch their legs and go potty (unless you have a doggie door). 

Here’s where your doggie support system plays a big role, too!

21. What Are Your Plans For The Dog If You Have To Move?

If you have to move for work or any other reason, are you going to take your pup along? 

A huge red flag would be to say that you’re going to surrender your dog if you had to move. 

Remember, you’re adopting your dog for their entire life, so be mindful of that responsibility.

Wally ended up moving internationally with me to Europe, and not only did I let the rescue organization know, I also gave and continue to give them occasional (p)updates. 

22. What Are Your Plans If You Separate From Your Significant Other?

That’s a legitimate question – are you going to keep your pup or are they going to stay with your ex partner? 

This isn’t always easy to predict and I’d say it depends on who is better equipped to care for the pup or who has bonded more deeply with them. 

But since you plan on adopting the dog, you should be prepared to keep them if you were to separate from your significant other.

23. Can We Visit Your Home?

Last but not least, the shelter or rescue organization wants to make sure that you didn’t just make up any of your answers. 

That’s why they typically insist on a home inspection – or like in my case, a virtual home tour. 

Now that you have a good idea of the dog adoption interview questions shelters ask potential adopters, let’s take a look at the questions YOU should be asking!

Dog Adoption Interview Questions You Should Ask The Shelter or Rescue Organization

Of course you’re going to have questions to ask before adopting a dog as well! 

So next up are 10 questions you’ll want to ask (at a minimum!) prior to adopting a dog.

1. Why Was The Dog Dropped Off At The Shelter?

This information can provide clues as far as whether or not the dog may be a good fit for you. 

Possible reasons are problem behaviors like excessive barking, chewing on furniture, escaping the yard, dog-dog reactivity or poor leash manners. 

Lucky for you, most of these issues can be fixed with the help of a dog trainer and/or dog behaviorist. 

However, they require time, patience and consistency, as well as a certain amount of money! 

Do you have all four?

2. How Long Has The Dog Been At The Shelter?

The longer a dog has been at the shelter, the longer it may take for them to get used to a regular home environment. 

Check out our article What Is The 3-3-3 Rule Of Adopting A Shelter Dog? for more information on the adjustment period of a rescue dog.

3. Is (S)he House Trained?

Just because a dog is fully grown doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re house trained!

Adult dogs who are rescues from puppy mills or hoarders may not have had proper house training, so that’s something to prepare for.

4. Is (S)he Crate Trained?

Dog adoption. Two black dogs in crate

Dogs who are crate trained typically have an easier adjustment time at their new home because they consider the dog crate a place where they feel safe. 

But don’t worry, if the dog is not crate trained yet, you can still get them there! 

Check out our blog post Dog And Puppy Crate Training for tips on how to make crate training easy.

5. Does The Dog Do Fine Around Kids?

And what about kids? 

If you have children, make sure you let the shelter know how old they are. 

That’s because some dogs won’t do well with toddlers but will do great with older kids. 

6. Does The Dog Get Along With Other Dogs?

Another topic to cover is whether or not the pup gets along with other dogs. 

If you already have dogs, the shelter will only match you with adoptable dogs they know get along well with other dogs. 

There’s usually the possibility to introduce your dog(s) to the pup you’d like to adopt. 

However, some dogs just don’t get along, and that’s fine too. 

If you don’t have any dogs and decide to adopt a pup who doesn’t get along with other dogs, you’ll have to be OK with the dog being your only furkid!

7. What About Other Pets?

If you have other pets besides dogs, you’ll have to find out if the dog you’d like to adopt gets along with other pets or considers them prey. 

This is usually the case with dogs who haven’t been socialized to other pets and those who have a herding or hunting background. 

8. Does The Dog Accept Having Their Paws Touched & Nails Trimmed? 

Likewise, dogs who weren’t socialized to having their paws handled as puppies typically hate having their paws touched as an adult. 

That includes getting their nails trimmed, which can be challenging because nail trimming is a regular part of dog grooming. 

If you won’t be able to trim their nails yourself, you’ll have to pay your vet or a groomer to perform this service for you.

9. Does The Dog Have Any Known Medical Issues? 

Speaking of vets, make sure you’re aware of any known medical issues the pup may have. 

That way, you’ll be less surprised by medical bills you may be faced with.

10. Do You Know The Dog’s Breed(s)?

Always ask the shelter for the dog’s breed(s). 

That may give you insight into their:

  • Energy levels
  • Breed specific behavior
  • Potential medical issues
  • Expected weight and size once they’re fully grown

11. What Are Their Energy Levels Like?

Even if the shelter or rescue organization is not sure of a mixed breed’s genetic makeup, they can still offer an educated guess. 

Especially if the dog lived at a home as a foster pup! 

That way, you can gauge whether or not they’ll make a good hiking or running partner, or if they prefer slow walks around the neighborhood.

Colby says his family should have asked about the energy level of their family dog Maffy. He was a Border Collie Lab mix and seemed as calm as a cucumber in the shelter. Colby’s dad adopted Maffy and brought him to the park and he sprinted straight to the lake and jumped in. Needless to say Maffy had a ton of energy but he was the perfect dog for Colby and his family.

Bottom Line

Now you know what to expect from shelters and rescue organizations as far as dog adoption interview questions are concerned.

Plus, you’re also aware of what to ask when adopting a dog! 

Both combined should get you a step closer to finding the right furry friend to move in with you. 

However, while it’s important to learn as much upfront about the dog as you can, know that there’s still going to be a few surprises here and there. 

After all, shelter life is stressful for dogs, which means they’re never going to truly come out of their shells and be themselves while in that environment.