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Does Dogs XL require adopters to own their homes?

No!  Renters are encouraged to adopt from Dogs XL. We’ll just check with your landlord to make sure dogs are allowed in your rental unit.  We’ll also check on any weight, size, or breed restrictions. This is particularly important if you are adopting a puppy because we cannot guarantee what size or weight a puppy will grow to be.

Does Dogs XL adopt to families who live in apartments?

Yes! We will need to discuss an exercise plan, including daily walks/runs and perhaps visits to a fenced in dog park. Every dog has different exercise needs and some dogs are a better match for apartment living.  We will work with you to find a dog suitable to your living situation. We will also need to find a dog that doesn't like to sing all night and while you are away, because your neighbors may not appreciate your dog's vocal styling as much as we do.

Does Dogs XL require adopters to have fenced yards?

No!  As with dogs living in apartments,  we will need to discuss an exercise plan, including daily walks/runs and perhaps visits to a fenced in dog park. Every dog has different exercise needs and most dogs do just fine with daily walks.  We will work with you to find a dog suitable to your living situation. However, we strongly advise that you not to let your dog off leash in unfenced areas.  This is particularly important in the first 2-3 months, when your dog is still learning to trust you and settling into his new home. Remember, many of our dogs come from shelters where they were picked up as strays, so they may be in the habit of wandering away from home!

Does Dogs XL adopt to out-of-state families?

Yes! Although our primary area of operation services Maryland, Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Southern  Pennsylvania, and Delaware, if you live in any state in the Northeast (where rescue dogs are in high demand but short supply), we will consider your application. Out of area adopters are expected to work with a local rescue in their area to arrange for a home visit. However, all adopters must be willing to come to Maryland to pick up their new dog.

Can I adopt a dog that’s still in the shelter?

Yes! We offer a two week trials adoption to families who are willing to commit to a dog without actually meeting him or her ahead of time. This will give you the time you need to determine if this is the right dog for you, and if not it will give the dog a place to stay until we are able to find a better match.  Trial adoptions require a commitment of at least two weeks, even if you discover that this particular dog is not the one for you. We need a little time to find another suitable foster or adopter. However, if the dog presents a danger to you or your current pets, we will do everything we can to move him or her quickly.

Families with young children are not eligible to adopt dogs directly out of the shelter through Dogs XL. Although every dog adopted out from Dogs XL has undergone temperament testing to assure that they are friendly toward people, dogs sometimes respond differently in the shelter than in a home environment. Just to be extra safe, we like to know a little more about our dogs before placing them in homes with young children. Foster care provides an opportunity for us to identify and hopefully correct any negative behaviors that dog might display. Also, because our dogs are Xtra Large, even good tempered dogs with poor manners (like jumping up and playing too exuberantly) can injure small children inadvertently. We encourage adoptions to families with children, but we want to make sure that families with children get a dog that is gentle and tolerant of all members of the family.

Additionally, for families with young children and/or other pets, we offer a two week trial adoption for dogs that have been in foster care for at least two weeks. In this case, adopters will have an opportunity to  meet the dog prior to committing to take him home. As with direct from shelter adoptions, we require a commitment of at least two weeks with any trial (unless the dog presents a danger to you or current pets.)

Finally, we do not offer trial adoptions on any puppy under six months of age. Young puppies have developing immune systems and every time they move to a new home they are exposed to new germs and stress. Puppies also really need stability early in life to grow into emotionally and socially well-adjusted dogs. From the adopter's perspective, it is also extremely rare for young puppies to have any significant behavioral issues that would make them an unsuitable match or a danger to the family. All puppies require a lot of training, so adopters who are interested in raising a puppy should be prepared to commit to the work involved.

If I am the first one to apply for a dog, will I get him?

Maybe.  We are not a first-come, first served rescue.  We try our very hardest to find the best match for our dogs and our adopters. Being first doesn’t hurt, but it’s not a guarantee.  We commit to being as open and honest about the selection process as we can be.

If the dog I like is adopted, will you help me find a different dog?

Yes! We will help approved adopters find the right dog for them. There is no need to reapply or to start the process over again.

Can I apply to adopt without knowing which dog I want?

Yes!  We offer a complementary matchmaking service. Once an adopter is approved, we will send suggestions of dogs who might be a good match until the right dog comes along!

Can I adopt more than one dog at the same time?

Although it may seem like a great idea to adopt out more than one dog to an adopter at the same time, it is not usually a practice that Dogs XL promotes (ESPECIALLY for puppies from the same litter) for two main reasons:

1. Bringing a new dog into a home is a lot of work (housetraining, socialization, obedience training, etc.) When an adopter brings in two dogs at once, it's double the work. Also, dogs tend to feed off of each other's negative behaviors. If one dog is over-excited, the other dog gets over-excited, and it can be very difficult to get either dog to focus. If one dog decides it's ok to poop inside, the other dog will likely poop in the same spot. Most adopters underestimate the amount of work involved in devoting enough time to providing training to two dogs. As a result, neither dog usually gets the attention and training required to be a well-mannered canine as he or she matures.

2. Sibling puppies raised together often become super codependent, leading to a variety of potential behavioral issues. Some siblings are best buddies until they become doggy "teenagers" when -- all of a sudden, just like human teens -- they get on each others' nerves and develop major sibling rivalry resulting in fighting, resource guarding, marking in the home and other undesirable behaviors. Other sibling pairs bond TOO closely, and this can be a problem later in life if they ever need to be separated (no one EXPECTS to lose their home or have a change in circumstances that might require them to rehome their dogs, but it happens, and when it does, rehoming dogs that have been together since birth is especially traumatic for most sibling pairs. They may shut down and not eat for weeks, or they may become extremely anxious, fearful, or even aggressive.) Another problem that sometimes occurs in bonded sibling pairs is that the more assertive sibling becomes protective of the less assertive sibling, resulting in aggression around new dogs and/or new people. Similarly, some siblings develop a kind of "pack" mentality and will gang up on any new dogs or people they meet in an unfriendly way.

These behaviors CAN be prevented or at least greatly reduced with consistent training from the time the dog is a puppy through about two years of age by allowing the puppies to spend long periods of time engaging in separate activities. Puppies must be allowed to develop their own identities independent of their siblings. They should attend training classes separately and have separate play time and walks every day. Most adopters find that this level of time commitment does not fit with their schedules.

Now you may be thinking that you've known people who adopted sibling puppies and they didn't have any of these problems. Of course, some dogs are just amazingly good natured and turn out to be sweet and amazing whether they get appropriate training or not. These are the exceptions however, not the rule. Because Dogs XL makes a lifetime commitment to our dogs and we will need to address any behavioral issues that have developed if a dog is returned to us, we like to err on the side of caution and set everyone up for success.

Our general policy is that an adopter should wait a minimum of one month after adopting one dog before adding another dog into the home. If the adopter is particularly inexperienced or the first dog adopted is particularly in need of training, the length of time before we recommend adding a second dog may be longer.

We do make exceptions on a case-by-case basis for dogs that were surrendered to the rescue as a bonded pair. Usually, we'll test how the dogs do when separated in foster care. Some dogs are perfectly fine, adjust quickly, and actually seem happy to have some "me time." Other dogs completely flip out and literally beat their heads against the wall to try to get out and find their lost buddy. In the latter case, we reunite the dogs and seek out adopters willing to take both dogs as a pair.

Generally speaking, the most successful and low stress adoptions are those in which the adopter takes one pup home and gets him or her situated (housetrained and generally acclimated to his or her new schedule and life) before introducing another pup to the mix. 

Can you guarantee a dog’s breed?

No.  Unfortunately, for most dogs we cannot guarantee a dog’s breed. Many dogs end up in shelters because they are strays.  And many more are turned in by owners who don’t know or don’t share their pet’s history. Even when we know the puppy’s mom, we only know half of the mix. The best we can do is make an educated guess based on the dog’s appearance and temperament. Occasionally, we receive dogs that are owner surrendered with pedigree documentation, but these dogs are few and far between.

Can you guarantee the size a puppy will become?

No!  Because we usually don’t know either of the puppy’s parents, we have no idea what lies in his or her gene pool!  We try to make an educated guess based on the puppy’s size, age, and estimated breed.

Do dogs have to be spayed or neutered?

YES!   Dogs over the age of 4 months will be spayed or neutered before they are adopted out.  Puppies adopted under the age of 6 months MUST be spayed/neutered by their adopter by a date agreed upon in the adoption contract (usually within 6 months). Puppies under 4 months of age may go to adoptive homes before they are spayed/neutered, but adopters who choose to adopt a puppy that has not yet been spayed/neutered are subject to an additional deposit of $100 (refundable upon proof of spay/neuter.) Included in the adoption fee, the rescue will arrange spay/neuter by a partner vet at the adopter's convenience when the puppy is between 4-6 months of age. It is the responsibility of the adopter to bring the adopted puppy back to the rescue vet for spaying/neutering or to send verification from another vet that the puppy had been spayed/neutered.

What do I do if my dog is having trouble?

Let us know – the sooner the better! Small problems that start early-on become big problems as time passes.  We have trainers on call and lots of resources to share with you. Moreover, our volunteers have been working with dogs for a long time, so we probably have experience dealing with whatever issue you may be facing. Let us help!

What do I do if I cannot keep my dog?

If for any reason, you cannot keep your dog, let us know as soon as possible.  We will ALWAYS take our dogs back.  If you have problems – no matter how small – let us know before they become big! We can then provide you the advice and support you need to fix the problems before they get out of control.