7 Tips for Adopting a Dog
January 14, 2022
Adopting a dog is an exciting time, but all the decisions and tasks you’ll have to complete can be overwhelming. Proper preparation will help your new dog transition smoothly from shelter life to your home. Follow these seven tips when adopting a dog to help the entire process, from the initial decision to welcoming home your new pet, go off without a hitch.
#1: Ask yourself if you can commit to a dog
Caring for another living creature requires a huge commitment, and dogs in particular need plenty of your time and resources to thrive. Before heading out to adopt a homeless pup, ask yourself if you can commit to their care for their entire life.
Decide if you have enough time to exercise, play with, train, and care for a dog. Keep in mind that puppies typically require a bigger time commitment than adult or senior pets. They can be high energy and need a great deal of exercise.
Also, consider your finances before adopting a dog. The upfront costs to purchase all the necessary supplies, like bedding, food, bowls, toys, treats, leash, collar, and a crate can be significant. While routine veterinary care can help keep your dog healthy, an emergency veterinary visit can be pricey if they have an accident or sudden illness. Add grooming, training, and wellness care costs, and a dog becomes a substantial financial commitment.
#2: Decide what type of dog you’d like to adopt
Instead of claiming the first dog you see, decide what type of dog will best fit your lifestyle and home, and then search for the perfect match. Consider the following criteria:
- Breed — Research your chosen breed to see if they’d be a good fit regarding size, attitude, activity, and health care needs. If you don’t have a specific breed in mind, at least determine the size of dog, based on your available space.
- Activity level — If you’re a couch potato, choose a low energy dog. But, if you enjoy hiking, running, or other sports, an active dog would certainly suit your lifestyle.
- Temperament — A mellow, easy-going dog is perfect for families with young children, while a highly alert, protective dog can add a measure of security for someone who lives alone.
#3: Prepare your home for a dog
Dog-proofing your home before you adopt a new dog is much simpler than waiting until after your four-legged companion arrives. Create a welcoming, safe environment by removing dangers, and blocking access to potential hazards. Plants, electrical cords, sharp objects, small items, and various toxins can harm your new dog if not covered or placed well out of reach.
If you can’t put potential hazards out of reach, block your dog’s access to that area. For example, the bathroom can be chock-full of hazards, from a bowl full of toilet cleaner to a dropped prescription medication on the floor. Keep doors shut, to prevent your dog from entering dangerous areas.
#4: Purchase necessary supplies for your new dog
Avoid rushing around town to purchase dog food, a leash, and a bed after you’ve already picked up your new dog. Instead, make a list, and purchase necessities in advance. Ensure you have the following supplies ready for your new dog:
- Age-appropriate food
- Food and water bowls
- Collar or harness
- Collar ID tags
- Waste bags
- Nail clippers
- Styptic powder
#5: Choose where you’d like to adopt a dog
Once you’ve decided on the type of dog, choose where to look. Animal shelters offer dogs in a wide variety of breeds, sizes, temperaments, and activity levels. However, if you’re looking for a particular, hard-to-find breed, your best option will be a breed-specific rescue.
Research a facility by looking through their website at their list of available pets. This will help you determine if the staff takes the time to get to know each pet and their personality, to find them the best match.
Also, contact the facility’s staff to ask about their adoption process. See if you can schedule a meet-and-greet between a potential dog and your current pets, or take the dog home on a trial basis. Don’t forget to find out how the facility determines if a person is a good fit for a dog. They may require veterinary references, a fenced-in yard, and a home inspection before they’ll adopt out a dog.
#6: Pick the best match from a shelter or rescue
Hold off on adopting the first furry face you see, no matter how tough. Instead, keep in mind the type of dog you’re looking for, and, once you find a close match, ask about the dog’s history, personality, and health care needs. If a dog doesn’t check every box that you’re looking for, wait until you find your perfect new companion.
#7: Welcome your new dog home
After you’ve adopted the perfect dog, let them settle into their new home before introducing them to friends, family, and other pets. While you are likely tempted to smother your new pet with affection, allow them space to explore their surroundings. Give them time to learn the location of their food, water, and bed, and the door to go outside. Once your dog has had a few days to settle into their own private area in your home, you can slowly introduce them to other pets and people.
After your new dog’s initial acclimation, create their schedule. Pets thrive on routine. Sticking to a schedule will help your new dog feel more comfortable in their new home. Feed, walk, and play with your dog at the same time every day, and they’ll soon know what to expect.
As soon as you’ve welcomed your new dog home, you should schedule a veterinary visit. This initial wellness exam will establish a relationship between your pet and your veterinarian, as well as identify any underlying health issues. Your veterinarian will discuss how to best care for your new dog. They will offer guidance on nutrition, behavior, exercise, and dental care, and other preventive care topics. If needed, they’ll also vaccinate and prescribe parasite prevention, to ensure your new furry pal’s ongoing health and happiness.
Before adopting a new dog, choose a veterinarian who aligns with your pet care needs. Whether you want a more holistic approach to veterinary medicine, or prefer traditional methods, VetVet can help you find the best veterinarian to help care for your new four-legged friend.
https://www.akc.org/dog-breed-selector/. American Kennel Club. 2021.
https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 2021.
https://www.aspca.org/news/official-top-10-pet-toxins-2020. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 2021.
https://indoorpet.osu.edu/dogs/new_additions_dogs/dog-dog-intro. The Ohio State University, The Indoor Pet Initiative. 2021.
https://www.dogembassy.com/adopt-a-dog/. DogEmbassy. 2021.
https://www.rescuedogs101.com/things-to-know-before-adopting-dog/. Rescue Dogs 101. 2021.
https://www.anythinggermanshepherd.com/adopting-a-dog-everything-you-need-to-know/. Anything German Shepherd. 2021.
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