If you know you’re ready to adopt a pet dog or puppy, you should click here and check out adoptable dogs near you. You can search for adoptable dogs by state or zip code.
But before you rush into this life changing decision, you should ask yourself a few questions to make sure that you’re prepared, that your family and home are ready, and that you’re picking the right dog and shelter or rescue group.
Here is what you should know before you adopt a pet dog or puppy.
Are You Prepared To Adopt A Pet?
A dog or puppy is a huge commitment of time, money, and energy, and you need to make sure that you’re ready before you bring a pet home. You also have to consider a dog’s potential needs in the future.
Adopting a puppy is different from adopting an adult dog, and adopting a senior dog has it’s own challenges, too.
With puppies, you might have to factor in the cost of vaccination, spaying and neutering, training and socialization classes, and new equipment like leashes, bowls, toys, and more. Puppies require a lot of stimulation and play, and also frequent naps.
Their immune systems are not always fully developed, and they may have medical needs that adult dogs don’t have. They may not be potty trained, so be prepared to clean up some accidents.
Adopting Adult Dogs
Adult dogs are usually up-to-date on vaccines and already spayed or neutered by their shelter. They tend to have a grasp on basic commands and may have started some sort of behavior training.
Good shelters and rescue groups will often work with dogs in their care to teach them to be social and well-behaved, as it increases their chances of being adopted. This is something you should ask your local shelter about.
Adult dogs have exercise needs and require mental stimulation. It is important that you can keep up with them. You may have to hire a dog walker if you’re gone for most of the day or a pet sitter if you travel.
Adopting Senior Dogs
Senior dogs tend to be more relaxed. While their exercise needs may not be as extreme as puppies or adult dogs, they do sometimes come with health issues that must be addressed. You will also have to be prepared for end-of-life care.
That said, senior dogs tend to be more used to living with humans and are able to become very attached easily. They make for great cuddle buddies, and they are often a dog of choice for senior owners who want a loving pet with a manageable energy level.
Are Your Family And Home Ready For You To Adopt A Pet?
Before you bring a dog home, you need to have a good, long talk with your family. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and that everyone’s responsibilities are made clear. Who will be the primary caretaker? Who will do the feeding, the bathing, the walking, and so on?
Once your human family is on board, you also need to make sure that your other furry family members, if you have any, are ready. If you already have dogs or cats, make sure they are capable of getting along with other animals. Visit a dog park or have a friend bring their pet to your house for a visit.
Is your fur family cool with new animals in their space? Would your pets get used to sharing the attention and resources? Make sure you know how to make a good first impression when bringing a new dog home, as well, so that all fur family members can get off on the right foot.
When it comes to getting your home ready, you have some more decisions to make. Where will your new dog sleep? Are some furniture items or rooms off limits? Where will your dog go potty, and who will clean it up?
Make sure the whole family knows the rules. Stock up on supplies like crates, doggy beds, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, toys, cleaners for accidents, and maybe even baby gates to block off certain areas.
Remember that puppies tend to have accidents, so you may want to set up a play area on a room with a hard surface floor for easy cleaning. Click here to read more about preparing your family and home for a dog.
What Kind Of Dog Or Puppy Should You Adopt?
There are many things to consider when choosing a dog or puppy to bring home. Think about your living space. Is it big enough for a large, energetic dog, or would it be more appropriate for a small, mellow dog? Do you have a big yard or open space for running, or do you need to walk your dog outside on a leash every time they need a potty break?
Some apartments and condominiums have weight limits for dogs. Make sure that if you get a dog who isn’t fully grown yet, their size won’t be a problem in the future.
Different breeds have different medical needs, energy levels, and natural abilities to adapt to training and socialization. Some dogs are predisposed to medical conditions that may require a larger financial obligation. Some dogs are highly energetic and need physical and mental stimulation or they’ll become destructive.
If you have guests in your home often, you’ll want a dog who is more socially adaptable and able to be trained to not jump on new people. You can check out our breed selector for a guide to what dog breed might be right for you.
Of course, you can always go with an amazing mutt! They tend to have fewer health problems related to heredity and inbreeding because they are more genetically diverse. A lot of mixed-breed dogs get the best qualities of both parents.
The important thing with any dog is to meet them in person and make sure you have a connection. There’s nothing that can give you a better indication of the dog that’s right for you than a real-life introduction. That’s where a shelter or rescue group comes in.
Which Shelter Or Rescue Group Should You Adopt A Pet From?
Some people steer clear of shelters or rescues because they believe the dogs there aren’t good dogs. Nothing could be further from the truth.
- While many dogs are surrendered for behavior problems, the vast majority of those problems could have been prevented and can be treated with training, attention, and exercise.
- Many dogs are surrendered because of a family’s change in circumstances–a move, financial loss, illness, blending of families–and not because of the dog.
- Some people don’t realize how much time and work puppies, and even adult dogs, require and become fed up with the responsibility.
Shelters house animals available for adoption, as well as strays. Usually they’re at least partially funded by the city, but some are completely dependent on private donations.
The quality of shelters varies dramatically, depending on where they’re located and how much funding they receive.
Some shelters provide basic medical care, training, and spay/neutering. Others are more like holding pens than shelters and don’t bother with the kind of care experts believe is essential to a dog’s well-being, like daily walks.
- The population of available dogs usually changes quickly and regularly.
- At the best shelters, the staff take notes, and sometimes post them, on how the dog is doing. Some shelters do extensive tests to gauge a dog’s personality and what sort of home would be the best fit. Many more shelters do not, and you’re on your own. (See choosing a shelter dog or puppy.)
- Some shelters allow people to put a hold on dogs they want to adopt. Before you lose your heart to a dog, make sure someone else doesn’t already have a claim on them.
- Some shelters euthanize animals when they get overcrowded. Many no-kill shelters will only accept dogs believed to be adoptable–i.e., those who don’t have aggression or health problems and are younger.
- If you’re interested in a dog, make sure you ask how much longer they have at the shelter. That is, do you have a long time to make your decision, or is euthanasia scheduled in two days?
Rescue groups are organizations that take dogs out of shelters and keep them in foster homes, and sometimes private kennels, until homes can be found. Some are breed-specific, while others take all types of dogs.
Overall, they tend to give the dogs more medical and behavioral care than many shelters.
- Dogs are happier in foster homes than in shelters, so it’s easier to assess their personalities. You’ll already know how they’ll act in a real home setting.
- You can get a good idea of the dog’s temperament and habits from the foster family, since they live with the dog.
- The dog is not likely to be euthanized, unless they display a serious aggression or health issues.
- These groups often have adoption events at public places such as pet supply stores, so you can drop by and meet several dogs. If you’re interested in a specific dog you’ve seen on the group’s website, you can ask for that dog to be brought to the event.
Now that you’ve learned more about what it takes, do you think you’re ready to adopt a pet dog? Have you adopted before? Let us know in the comments below!