The Dog Adoption Process: What to Expect

Dog adoption is a very noble and wonderful thing to do. With 3.3 million dogs in shelters and rescues across the United States, pet owners are looking to reduce that number by adopting a dog rather than going to a breeder or a pet store. Likely, you’re one of the ones who’ve done their research. You’ve weighed all of the pros and cons, and now, you’re finally ready to start the process of adopting a dog. Let’s talk about the next steps.

Find a Shelter or Pet Rescue

The internet is a great source for finding pet shelters and pet rescues near you. You can select a range in which you’re willing to travel in order to pick up your pup, or you can look at the pets in your area.

Many shelters work as a subsidiary of the government, and likely their practices are up to standard. However, you should make sure that the pet rescues and shelters are reputable. If a rescue has a 501c3 license, this means they are recognized by the IRS and have gone through the process to become a nonprofit organization.

Reputable shelters and rescues will have a screening process, and you can also check reviews online or on social media platforms.

Pick your Pup

Before you choose a dog, you should consider the dog’s age, size, and potentially the breed. If you’re a brand new dog owner, then a puppy is probably not the right fit for you as there are many more stages of training you’ll have to go through. In addition, puppies take a lot more time and care, especially when they are young.

Likewise, if you’re an experienced pet owner, then a puppy might be a good choice. Regardless, make sure that you’re up for the time commitment.

If you live in a small apartment, a small dog would be a better choice than a Great Dane mix. Match the dog’s size, or potential size, to the home it will be living in. In addition, you should also do some breed research. If you’re an active person, consider getting a high energy dog breed, like labrador mixes. On the other hand, if you’re not very active, finding a dog that is lower energy is a good idea.

Lastly, consider the other members of your family. If you have small children, larger dogs might not be a good fit unless you have the time to train dogs to be gentle. Consider other animals in your home as well.

Once you’ve found a pet shelter or rescue and you have some ideas for dogs, you have two options. You can often view the pets online. Many shelter or rescue websites will have blurbs about the dogs, telling you about their personality and different traits, like breed, age, and expected size if they are young dogs or puppies. If you find a dog this way, then you can move on to the next step.

You can schedule a visit to the rescue or to the shelter. This will give the shelter or rescue notice, but it will also give you another chance to see if they are reputable. Once you've gotten to the shelter, you can look at the pups you saw online, but be sure to meet other dogs as well. Often meeting the perfect dog for you is like meeting a friend you just “click” with.

Take some time to play with the dog and make sure that your personalities are similar. You should also ask about the pup’s history, perhaps where they came from. Determine if the pup is good with cats, dogs, and small children. Ask a lot of questions, and get to know them before you make any decisions. This could mean the difference between the dog finding a forever home or being returned to the shelter.

Apply for your Pup

You’ve found the best dog for you. Now, you’ll have to meet requirements before you can take your pooch home. You’ll start by filling out an application. This application has basic questions like contact information and your date of birth. The application usually has questions about your household, including how many pets or children you have.

Your home specifications are also needed. You’ll be asked about the size of your home and if you have a yard or not. Lastly, this application will ask you about your experience in owning a pet.

After your application has been approved, likely, you will go through an interview process to make sure that you understand the requirements of owning a dog. Much like a job interview, you’ll be asked similar questions to the ones on the application. While this seems tedious, remember, this process is meant to make sure that you and the dog are a good match.

Depending on the shelter or rescue, once you’ve been approved, you’ll pay the adoption fee, and you’ll be able to take your pet home!

Prepare your Home

Once you’ve found the perfect pet to fit your family, it’s time to get the house ready! You need to have all of the essentials, including food, toys, treats, and bedding. Make sure you choose high-quality food and durable toys. In addition, you’ll need a leash, collar, and a crate if you choose to use one.

Once you have all of the supplies, you’ll need to decide where to put them. Determine where you want to put the food and water bowls. Figure out where your pup is going to be sleeping, and make sure they know where their toys are located.  Having a consistent place for such items can help your new pup adjust to your home and start to feel comfortable.

Build a Routine Together

Once you’ve brought your dog home, it’s time to start making a life together. Create a routine that you can follow, and include your work schedule and family time. Get them used to when they will have their meals and when they’re expected to go to sleep.

This will also help your pooch adjust to the new home. In addition, you should start training early, and stay consistent with the training. Have a set time of day for play and going for walks. You might have to make some small sacrifices, but in the end you’ll be much happier for taking on this challenge.

Final Thoughts

Adopting a dog can be rewarding and challenging. While the process might be long, it will be worth it! Not only will you be giving a dog a new chance at life, but they will make you happier and even healthier. The most important thing to remember is to take your time and really find the perfect pet for you and your family.


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