Tips for Adopting a dog

Adopting a dog is a big decision. Find out what you should consider before your search and how to go about finding the perfect dog.


Getting a dog can be an exciting and fun experience

but it can also be very frustrating if you do not know what to expect from the process.  It is best to plan for your new dog carefully rather than bringing home a new pet on a whim.  Expect the process to take at least a month and if you are looking for a specific type of dog it may take longer.  The first step is deciding that you want a new pet.  It is important that everyone in your household agrees to the pet and that you discuss who will take care the different responsibilities involved in having a dog.  But once you’ve decided you definitely want a dog where do you get one?  Although you can buy dogs from pet stores, adopting a homeless dog is the better thing to do.  For one thing you will be giving a dog a better life.  There are plenty of great dogs out there to adopt.  Plus, bred dogs often have a lot of physical and temperamental problems due to inbreeding.

Once you’ve decided to adopt a dog it is a good idea to put some thought into what kind of dog you want.  All dogs are not the same!  Some qualities to think about are; activity level, how much grooming care is needed, size, and temperament.  There are many books and articles, printed as well as online, that will give you information about different breeds and their characteristics.  Take some time to find out about different types of dogs.

Age is often a good place to start.  Older dogs are usually calmer than puppies and young dogs.  If you decide on a puppy remember that they are hard work!  Someone must be around most of the day with a puppy to take care of it.  Be aware that even if you adopt an adult dog they may not be housetrained.  If you do not want to have to housetrain your dog be sure to ask if the dog is trained or not.  Age is not the only indicator for activity level though. This characteristic varies across breeds and individual dogs.  Smaller dogs tend to be more hyper but large dogs often have a lot of energy as well.  Decide whether you’d like a dog that will want to play a lot or a dog that just likes to sit by your side.

Another thing to consider is how difficult it is to care for the dog.  Some dogs hardly need any grooming at all while others need to be brushed every day.  Remember that some dogs shed much more than others and it is not always obvious just from looking at the dog’s coat how much it will shed.  Terriers tend to be the least shedding dogs even though they often have wiry, long hair.  If shedding is a factor in your decision be sure to research which breeds shed the least and which shed the most.  You will also want to consider what size of dog is best for your home.  Even if you do not have a fenced in yard there are still many types of small dogs that make good pets.  However if you are looking at larger dogs that need a lot of exercise you may not be allowed to adopt them if you do not have a fenced yard.  The size of the dog will also determine how much it will cost to feed it.

Once you’ve thought about the general qualities you desire in a dog you can start looking for one.  There are usually two types of organizations that do dog adoptions.  The first type is the traditional shelter where abandoned dogs are all kept in the same building.  The other common type of group is the foster organization.  These are usually groups of volunteers who foster dogs in their own homes.  You will probably want to check out both types of organizations in your area.  Start by looking up your local county shelter and paying them a visit.  You can find many organizations by visiting pet stores and looking for adoption notices.  You can also bypass these groups entirely by searching for a dog in the classified listings of the newspaper.  If you are looking for a specific breed of dog there are often rescue groups that deal in certain breeds.  The internet can be very helpful in searching for adopting organizations.

Whether you get a dog from a shelter or from a foster organization most groups have similar expectations.  They will expect you to adopt the dog as a pet to be kept indoors.  They usually do not allow dogs to be adopted to be given as gifts.  They will expect you to treat the dog as a member of the family and take it to the vet regularly.  The dog must be spayed or neutered when you adopt it or this must be done within a certain amount of time from the adoption.  This is because they do not want to add to the already large population of homeless dogs.  Both types of organizations usually require some type of monetary donation for adopting a dog.  There are some differences between these two types of groups however.

Adopting a dog from a shelter is usually a fairly easy procedure.  You go to the shelter and visit the dogs, when you decide on one you’d like you fill out an application for adoption.  Shelters are usually a first come first serve basis so be prepared that someone may adopt the dog you want. Many shelters want to visit your home to make sure it is appropriate for a dog but not all of them follow up on this. A shelter usually requires some money to adopt a dog but it is usually under $50.

Foster organizations are similar to shelters but the process usually takes longer and is a bit more involved. Foster organizations may have a web site listing their dogs with pictures and descriptions.  They often have adoption days at local pet stores.  On a designated day the foster parents bring the dogs to the store so people can meet them.  The benefit of getting a dog from a foster organization is that most times they will have a lot more information about the dog.  Since the dog lives with the foster parents they can tell you all about the dog’s behavior; whether it does well on a leash, needs to run a lot, gets along with other dogs, cats, kids etc.  You can get some of this info about a dog at a shelter but not nearly as much.  Foster organizations aren’t usually run on a first come first served basis, instead they try to pick the best home for the dog.  They are more selective about where a dog will go. They usually require a home visit and that everyone in the household meet the dog before allowing an adoption.  Foster organizations also charge more for the adoption, somewhere between $100-$200 which goes to recoup the expenses for taking care of the dog.

No matter where you decide to look for a dog make sure that you take your time.  It is better to consider all the available options than to wind up with a dog you don’t like or can’t take care of.