The best shot at a furever family

Do you ever scroll through the pages of dog adoption websites and wish you could take them all home and love them forever?

I certainly do.

And actually I did take one home (Fox – pictured below). Isn’t she cute??

Miss Fox, living the good life. Photo by Author.


But Fox is one of the lucky ones. Sadly, there are currently thousands of dogs in Australian shelters that need rehoming. In fact, RSPCA receives almost 45, 000 dogs to their shelters annually.

With such an overwhelming intake of dogs, adoption centres often struggle to get all of them rehomed.

On top of this, physical characteristics can work against the adoptability of some dogs.

Second chances are hard to come by, for some..

There is a phenomenon known in shelters as Black Dog Syndrome. Dogs with dark coloured fur are often overlooked for adoption, while their lighter coloured counterparts are rehomed.

Black dog syndrome. Photo by Jaclyn Clark on Unsplash


An even bigger problem is the stigma against certain breeds. Staffies and Pit Bulls (among others) are regularly left in shelters, as there is a common belief that they are dangerous or aggressive.

So the odds are stacked up against some dogs.

But not to worry! Researchers are investigating the most effective way to present these dogs online so that they have the best chance of being adopted. (Yay)

Photo Hack

Research in America has shown that when it comes to photos for shelter websites, small details can make a difference. Especially to the way dogs are perceived by potential adoptees.

Here’s what’s been found…

  1. Dogs that are sitting in photos are perceived to be happy and relaxed. In comparison, dogs that are standing seem more aggressive.
  2. Having eye contact with the camera can positively influence the speed of adoption.
  3. Stereotypically ‘aggressive’ dogs are viewed as more friendly when they are sitting with a child or elderly person.
Cute or aggressive? Photo by Duffy Brook on Unsplash


So that’s a great place to start when trying to promote less desirable dogs, but there’s more that can be done…

Changing the game

Some shelters have stepped up their game and are now using videos to promote their dogs for adoption.

Genius, right? Especially since the world is addicted to cute dog videos. (Or is it just me?)

Addicted to dog videos. Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash


The reason videos can be more successful is because they can convey positive behaviour traits more effectively than photos.

Research has shown that people typically perceive dogs to be more intelligent, trainable, and friendly in videos compared with photos. This is even true for the ‘undesirables’.

There is a catch though… It’s important to make sure that the video does not also capture poor behaviour such as disobedience, otherwise this could undo all of the benefits.

A happy ending

If all shelters started making videos of their dogs available for adoption, there would be so many happy doggos going to their furever homes because the world wouldn’t be able to resist them!

But in all seriousness, these insights could have huge implications for the thousands of dogs that may have previously been overlooked for adoption.

2 Responses to “The best shot at a furever family”

  1. arburgess says:

    Thanks Adrian, I’m glad you liked it!

  2. Adrian Marcato says:

    Great article Milly…I love how shelters are starting to catch onto the concepts you discussed and are starting to exploit social media more and more to help these dogs find a loving home!

    P.S you are definitely not alone in loving cute dog videos 🙂