Woman cuddling a dog

Thinking about getting a dog and wondering if dog adoption is right for you? Puppies and older dogs are waiting in animal shelters and humane societies all over the country. Some have had a difficult start in life, while others have been abandoned by their owners or surrendered due to health concerns. All of them have one thing in common, though. Every shelter dog in America is looking for his forever home with a family that will love him and understand his needs.

Adoption can be quite rewarding for both the dog and the dog’s new owner. And while adoption is a wonderful way to introduce a new furry friend into your family, it is a big step. There are many things to take into consideration before you make your decision to adopt, whether it’s your first dog or you have multiple canines at home and are looking for a new addition to round out your gang. Let’s look at how to adopt a dog and examine the adoption process more closely to help you make an informed decision about dog adoption.

Before You Adopt a Dog

Prior to getting a dog, you should take a few points into consideration. It’s important for prospective adoptive pet parents to know that:

  • Some dogs in shelters have been neglected or treated badly, and some have been abused in horrific ways. Because of this, some shelter dogs have some emotional or physical baggage. Shelter staff are generally honest about what the dog needs in a forever home; they want it to work out for the dog and for you too. Dogs with challenging histories require more attention, care, and sometimes, expense. Be sure you’re prepared to provide what your adopted dog needs.
  • If you adopt a dog that has been used as a breeding dog in a puppy mill or as a show dog, it may have some negative behaviours. You must be willing and have the time to work with these dogs to assist them in adapting to their new lives.
  • Bonding doesn’t automatically happen with all shelter dogs. It will take some time and a lot of effort for rescue dogs to settle in and feel at home. Prepare to have patience.
  • Dogs need to be walked and exercised daily, and you need to have time to interact with the dog. Be sure you’re prepared for the dog’s physical, social and emotional needs.
  • All dogs need lots of space, both inside and outside. Be sure your home is large enough to accommodate the dog you choose to adopt, so that he can get the exercise he needs.
  • Landlords don’t always allow pets. Don’t adopt a dog until you are sure that your landlord agrees, since rehoming the dog later may cause him more upset.
  • Having a dog can be expensive. Getting the dog home usually requires paying adoption fees, which vary and may include the cost of spaying/neutering and vaccines that your chosen dog may need. The costs of food, vet bills, grooming, toys and other costs should be considered.

How to Adopt a Dog Who Is Right for You

Prior to adopting a dog, be sure to explore breeds of dogs that mesh with your desires for a canine companion. Breeds vary widely as far as energy levels, amount of attention required by the owner, the amount of grooming needed and other factors. Use this breed selector tool to help you learn more about breeds that interest you. You can filter your results by the dog’s size, type of coat, energy level and amount of shedding to expect.

Many organizations allow a prospective pet parent to foster a dog to learn more about the dog, including how it behaves and its personality, prior to making a decision on adoption.

Should You Adopt a Puppy or an Adult Dog?

Both puppies and adult dogs have their advantages, and adopting either can be a rewarding if not noble thing to do. By adopting a dog, you support the work of the shelter involved, and you also give an unwanted pet a second lease on life. When deciding between a puppy or an adult dog, keep in mind that puppies demand a lot more attention than older dogs. You must have time to devote to cleaning up after, training and disciplining the new puppy. If you work full-time or long hours, or if no one will be around to work with the puppy during the day, then an older dog may be best. An adult dog likely has some training and a routine, and older dogs tend to need less attention. Senior dogs still have a lot to offer and are sadly often overlooked by families looking for a new pet.

Finding Local Adoptive Dogs

If you’re ready to start your search for a new four-legged friend, then Petfinder.com can help. Discover more about dog adoptions and explore the dogs that are up for adoption at shelters and humane societies near you to narrow your search for the right new best friend for you and your family.

Once you have an idea of the type of dog you want to adopt, most organizations require you to fill out an adoption application. This application generally asks about your living situation and helps staff determine if the dog you want is an appropriate match for you. Some shelters and organizations may require a home visit prior to approving the adoption. This is to ensure the dog is rehomed to a suitable living arrangement.

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