How To Adopt A Dog From A to Z

Have you been dreaming about getting a dog? Or perhaps find a new friend for the pet you have at home?

Well then, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to be teaching you how to adopt a dog in the best way possible.

Adopting a dog is a great decision, as you are choosing to make a new addition to your family. One that will love and cherish you unconditionally. But it’s a HUGE step that should not be taken lightly.

Every dog needs attention, physical and emotional support, and of course, some sort of financial commitment. So before you adopt a cute and adorable new dog, make sure that it is the right pet for your lifestyle.

Well then, now that everything is settled, let’s move on to what really matters.

What to Consider Before Adopting a Pet

So you’re an animal lover looking to adopt a new four-legged best friend. That’s fantastic! Dogs are amazing creatures that will improve your life significantly. They love keeping you company and playing around with you (maybe even napping all day long, for all you couch potatoes out there).

But, before adopting one, you answer these questions:

  • Do you live in an apartment or house with a yard?
  • Do you travel often?
  • Do you have someone to take care of your dog when you’re not home?
  • Do you any children in your household?
  • Are you an active person or a couch potato?

Once you’ve answered these questions, then it’ll become a bit easier to know which dog breed might be the perfect one for you and your lifestyle.

What are the Costs?

Although a dog’s companionship comes without a price, there are some costs that come along with the new dog.

How much will you spend on your dog? Well, that depends on a bunch of factors, like:

  • Dog breed
  • Food
  • Vet consultations
  • Toys & Treats
  • Others

If you decide you want to buy a puppy from a certified breeder, then you can definitely expect a considerably high price, like puppies of purebred dogs can be more expensive than grown dogs. But these breeders will also ensure that your puppy will be in good health with good, healthy parentage.

If you choose to adopt a dog from a local shelter, then you won’t be paying for the dog at all. Nonetheless, you should expect to pay a small fee that usually is the cost of the first vaccination and microchip.

Whether you buy a dog or adopt one at the shelter, you’ll always need to invest some money. If this is enough to scare you, then you are definitely NOT ready for the financial commitment it takes to own a dog.

Adopting Tips

Step Number 1: Consider your Lifestyle

So adopting a dog is definitely something you want to do. Well, the first step is thinking about your own lifestyle and how a new dog might change it. This is a very important step. This is where you consider how much time you’ll actually have to spend with your dog and if you’ll be able to provide for it.

There is a dog perfect for each and every lifestyle, so don’t be spooked if you’re an extremely busy person with little time to spare. The trick here is selecting the perfect dog. There is a great quiz that you can answer, in order to find the perfect dog.

Step Number 2: Black Dogs Can Be Great Too

Black dogs are known to be overlooked by a lot of people, as many prefer a dog that has a lighter coat, that stands out to the crowd. But this is an unfair decision, as black dogs can be just as beautiful and adorable as the rest of them!

They are loving and interesting, and I promise you, if you give them a chance, they might just steal away your heart (leaving you forever in love with them). Plus, you can always wear matchy-matchy outfits with your new pal. How about that?

Step Number 3: Find a Dog Expert

Choosing a dog is not an easy task, especially if you’ve never owned one before. There are big dogs, small dogs, very active dogs, incredible lazy dogs, you name it. It’s important that you get to know a bit about dogs before actually getting one. For example, most people think that no big dog would fit an apartment life.

This is not true. Take a Great Dane, for example. Although they can occupy a bit (by a bit, I mean quite a lot) more space than an Affenpinscher would, they are incredibly lazy and would be happy to spend most of the day sleeping, whereas the Affenpinscher would be running around the apartment all day, looking to entertain itself.

Here, it is important for you to talk to a friend or expert that has a lot of knowledge when it comes to dogs.

Step Number 4: Talk With The Real Dog Experts

Whenever you wish to adopt an animal from a shelter, you should make sure that you meet the shelter workers. They work and take care of the dogs every day, so if anyone knows anything about those shelter dogs, it’s them!

Call the shelter or schedule a visit and prepare some questions to ask them. You can ask about a certain dog’s levels of energy or perhaps even which dogs have a friendlier personality.

Shelter workers are usually very honest in these matters, as they wish to see the dogs being adopted (and not returned a few days later). So don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Step Number 5: Should I Adopt a Dog That Had Other Owners?

When you visit a shelter, it is possible for you to find one or more dogs who won’t be socializing with you as easily as others will. This can possibly be explained by the fact that they could have a sad or violent background.

Unfortunately, a lot of dogs are abandoned by their owners, when they grow too big, or too loud, or too disobedient. Others were mistreated by and even placed in dog fighting competitions.

These sorts of backgrounds can leave a mark on the dog, making it an insecure, sad, or even aggressive dog. However, this should not dissuade you from adopting one of these dogs. They can be affectionate as well and they certainly deserve all the love they can get.

They will need some time to adjust to you and your home, but once they do, they’ll become the best companions you could ever think of!

Learn: At What Age Do Puppies Grow The Most?

Step Number 6: Should I Make Eye Contact With Shelter Dogs?

Dogs have this innate ability to communicate with each other through their eyes. This means that eye contact is very important to a dog and we need to be respectful when gazing at a dog.

Observing a dog’s eyes can give you an idea of what they are thinking, but you should avoid doing it with a dog you are not familiar with, as they can interpret your gaze as a challenge.

A submissive dog will feel uncomfortable and even intimidated, whereas a dominant dog might feel threatened and could possibly become aggressive. To a dog, a stare from another dog, whether it’s an animal or a human, is rude and can mean a challenge.

So it’s very important that you avoid making direct eye contact for too long.

Instead, try reading their body language, to see if the dog is submissive, friendly, or potentially dangerous. By doing this, you can avoid unwanted situations.

Step Number 7: Should I Talk With My Family First?

The answer is YES. Without a shadow of a doubt, you should ALWAYS speak with your family before bringing home a new family member. A dog is a long-term commitment and should be something that everyone wants.

You should gather your family and discuss what sort of dog you want, the time you’ll all get to spend with it, and decide who gets to do what, when it comes to feeding, grooming, taking your new pet to the veterinarian…

A great idea would be for the whole family to tag along with you on your trip to the dog shelter. That way you can observe how dogs react with all your family members, and then determine which dog is the best fit.

Step Number 8: Assess the Dog’s Behavior

By this point, you’ll probably have narrowed your choice down to two or three dogs. At this point, ask the shelter workers if you can take each one for a short walk (using a leash, obviously!).

You can learn a lot about a dog when taking it for a walk. Interact with the dogs and try to get a sense of their personality, before making your final decision. You can easily assess a dog’s behavior by playing with it for a little while.

You will start noticing that a dog that looks at you will a soft expression and wagging tail is most likely a very friendly dog and dogs that refuse to get close to you or that simply don’t wag their tails, might be frightened or aggressive (in this case, you should proceed with caution, and ask the shelter staff about its background story, before adopting).

Step Number 9: No Touching Rule

When you first visit an animal shelter, try to remember that you do not know the dogs there (unless, of course, you’ve visited the shelter before). So even if you see the most adorably looking dog, that doesn’t mean you can just grab it and place it in your lap.

Doing this is very likely a bad idea since it can feel uncomfortable and frightening, which can end up in a bad situation. Instead, you should just stand or even sit close to the dog and talk with it. This will allow the dog to feel and get used to your presence, without feeling like you are invading its space.

Step Number 10: Insider Tip

If you feel like the previous tips aren’t enough, then you’re in luck, I have the best piece of advice there is: AVOID rush hours at the shelter! You’re probably thinking that it might be easier for you to visit the shelter on the weekend since you have a lot more time.

Well guess what: everybody thinks that way. My advice to you would be to call the shelter and ask for the best time to visit. Most will probably say that the best time would be in the middle of the week, as people tend to be busy at work.

By visiting at a time when there aren’t many people around, the dogs will be much more relaxed and you’ll be able to spend good quality time with them.

Step Number 11: Be Patient!

Visiting shelters more than once is a great idea, before choosing your new four-legged best friend. You get to observe whether your favorite dog’s behavior changes from one day to another and you bond a little deeper with it.

Mostly, take your time in choosing the dog, to make sure that you won’t regret your decision later on.

However, note that you may not find the right companion at the first shelter you visit, but I am quite sure that there is a puppy or puppy out there that is just perfect for you!


Step Number 12: Visit Local Shelters

Sticking to just one shelter is hardly ever the best idea. I know you might feel like it’s a waste of time visiting a bunch of shelters when there are like 40 to 50 dogs in just one place. Well, there may be a lot of dogs there, but it could happen that none of them is the right fit for you.

So don’t just slack on this or you might end up passing up on the best companion you could have. Make an effort to visit 2 or 3 shelters, at least.

Step Number 13: Know Yourself and Get To Know The Dog

One of the most important things to think about when you choose to adopt a dog is to find the dog that will match perfectly with your own lifestyle and also your family’s lifestyle.

So, if you are an extremely active person that likes jogging or playing a sport of some kind, then you would do well to choose a dog that can keep up, like for example Australian Cattle Dogs, Border Collies, Russell Terriers, among others.

On the other hand, if you are a couch-potato, then those dogs would definitely NOT be the best option, no matter how cute they may be. Instead, you should choose a calm dog breed, such as Bulldogs, Saint Bernards, Basset Hounds, or even Chow Chows.

Step Number 14: Should I Adopt a Mixed-Breed Dog?

Mixed-breed dogs are often underrated. But the truth is that they can be the greatest pets, as they carry great qualities from all of the breeds in their make-up.

Not only that but they are widely known to be quite a bit more healthy than purebred dogs, as it is considerably harder for them to inherit recessive genes from their parents.

And if that alone doesn’t convince you, then think how unique each mixed-breed dog is! No two mutts are the same! They have a unique look and personality that just makes them adorable.

Plus, you won’t be supporting puppy-mills that over breed puppies in order to make a profit, will little regard to the wellbeing of the dogs’ lives.

Step Number 15: Say NO To Pet Stores In Malls

I’ve said this once, I’ll say it again: supporting puppy mills is definitely NOT the best idea, no matter how adorable those puppies may be. Puppy mills have a tendency to abuse and over breed dog mummies who are often discarded whenever they stop producing litters.

Not only that, but pet stores in malls hardly ever provide you with information regarding the place where those puppies were bred or what kind of genetic diseases they might have inherited. So I beg you not to support these stores.

Instead, head down to the nearest animal shelters. I guarantee that you’ll find equally adorable puppies.

Step Number 16: Older Dogs Deserve Love Too!

It saddens my heart to say this, but there are a lot of senior and even middle-aged dogs being abandoned out there. People abandon these dogs because of stressful situations or simply because the dog is no longer small and cute like a small puppy.

These big puppers always melt my heart! And trust me when I tell you that they’ll melt your heart as well! They can be the most interesting and loyal companion you could have, plus they are usually housebroken.

As a lot of older dogs already had a home once, you will not find them chewing any shoes or ripping blankets.

They are usually calm and easy to care for. These big puppers deserve all the love of the world.

Step Number 17: Pit Bulls aren’t As Dangerous As you Think

Pit Bulls are famous for being violent and aggressive, but this is not necessarily true. Pit Bulls make wonderful and affectionate pets, who love human companionship and that will become very attached and loyal towards their owners.

They are very handsome and will be the perfect companion to people who like athletic, funny, easy to care for dogs. They don’t require much grooming and they don’t shed often.

Plus, their best trait: they LOVE cuddles! Even the most active Pit Bulls enjoy relaxing with their humans or fellow dogs. So don’t just disregard a Pit Bull when you see one at the pet shelter.

Step Number 18: There Is No Such Thing As A Calm Shelter

Well, I got one heads-up for you: animal shelters are not quiet places. I repeat, they are NOT quiet places. Most dogs at shelters tend to be stressed out by the entire environment there and so they start barking. A lot.

They bark at each other, they bark as you, they bark at the shelter workers. This is completely normal. They are stuck in a cage of a small yard and the energy gets pent up. So don’t start thinking that shelter dogs are all crazy.

Give them a chance, take a few dogs out for a walk, and you’ll realize that they will calm down and become much more pleasant.

Step Number 19: Search Rescue Groups

Have you already figured out what kind of dog is perfect for you, but can’t seem to find it anywhere? Well then, I have a solution for you: Rescue Groups. There are many rescue groups around the world and all you need to do is search for them on your internet search engine.

If you have a certain breed in mind, then it’d be a good idea to add that in your search as well. For example, if you’re looking for a Pit Bull, then type the words “Pit Bull Rescue Group”, and you’ll easily find what you are looking for.

It’s not a bad idea to add your location as well, or perhaps something like “Pit Bull Rescue Groups Near Me”.

Step Number 20: A Smiling Dog Is The Best Dog

Smiling is a good thing no matter what. When it comes to dogs, experts will even tell you that those smiling, sweet faces on a dog are known to be “submissive grins”, which pretty much means that the dog is a friendly one.

So if you see a dog showing your teeth, don’t get spooked right away. Read their body language: check if the dog’s body is relaxed or if it is tense if the tail is wagging or stiff…..

These are all signs that can help you determine whether the dog is smiling at you or trying to take a bite out of you!

Step Number 21: Dogs Are The Best Antidepressant

Dogs have a good vibe to them and they will almost always pass their good energy on to you and those around you. They can make you happy when you’re sad, they can help you overcome certain stressful or overwhelming situations.

This doesn’t mean that they are a natural antidepressant, but they’re the next best thing! However, you should be aware that adopting a dog is a lifelong commitment. You can’t just adopt one to make you feel better for a while, and then discard the dog when you’re done.

You will not only be adopting a house pet, but you’ll also be adopting a living being that will love you unconditionally and that therefore, should be loved back.

Step Number 22: Trust Your Instincts

You can visit as many shelters as you want and see dozens, if not hundreds of dogs, and I’m pretty sure you’ll know the perfect one when you see it!

When you have done all of the previous steps in this tutorial (visiting local shelters, acknowledging your energy levels and time disposition), and you are left with two or three dogs who might just be perfect for you, then my advice to you is for you to listen to your own instincts. What do they tell you to do?  

Step Number 23: Make Sure That Your Dog Is Vaccinated

There are many things that you should be concerned about when adopting a new dog. The most important one is the parvovirus. It’s a contagious illness that attaches itself to the puppies’ intestinal lining. It can provoke vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

That being said, most vets recommend that you keep your new puppy in “quarantine” until their vaccinations are up to date, to make sure they don’t contract this illness.

On the other hand, if you’re choosing to adopt a middle-aged or senior dog that has had a previous owner, then it is very likely that the dog already has every vaccine up to date. Nevertheless, you should check with the shelter workers or a vet.

Step Number 24: Never Forget to Deworm Your Dog

If you’ve already owned or currently own any pets, then you already know this by now, but for the newbies here, then it’s vital for you to regularly deworm your dog.

Dogs spend a lot of time sniffing and licking things that they probably shouldn’t, especially if they’re outdoors most of the time, so it’s important that you take good care of them when it comes to protecting their bodies from potential bacteria’s or living organisms.

So ask a veterinarian of your choosing, what type of medication you should give to your dog, and also how often you should do it.

Step Number 25: What To Expect From Your New Dog

So you’ve just adopted or are about to adopt a dog you met at the shelter. I am so glad for you! Now, when you take your new puppy or pupper home, you should expect the dog to be a little more reserved or timid than when it was at the shelter.

Don’t worry, it’s a perfectly normal reaction. They were used to being locked in a stressful environment, full of stressed animals. Allow your dog to adjust to a new living environment. Give the dog some time and space to take in all the new places and smells.

If you do, you’ll start noticing how much more relaxed they become. And once they’ve fully adapted to the new home, they’ll start showing you their true colors and personality. And that is truly the best part!

Step Number 26: Puppies or Puppers?

“Have you looked at that puppy? It’s so adorable, I want to take it home!”. This is the first mistake when adopting a dog. Choosing a puppy simply because it’s small and adorable might turn into a mistake.

The puppy will rapidly growing up and then you could be faced with a dog of incredible energy, that you can’t keep up with.

When choosing a puppy or a pupper, the first you should do is, like I’ve mentioned before, assess your own lifestyle to see which dog would best suit your lifestyle. If you’re a busy person that hardly stops at home, then a puppy might not be the best idea.

In that case, then maybe a middle-aged or even senior dog would be the best option for you (I’ve already told you the advantages of an older dog: they’re usually already housebroken, have lower levels of energy, and need less training in general).

On the other hand, if you’re someone with a lot of time on your hands, then you could definitely choose a puppy.

Step Number 27: Train, Treat and Repeat

There is no such thing as “too young” when it comes to correcting bad behaviors. Dogs, especially puppies, need to acknowledge you as their leader and need to be trained. This means you will have to spend some time training your new dog. Set some rules and calmly enforce them.

There is no need for this to be a tough or upsetting chore, as you can train your dog whilst playing and having fun with it. Teach your dog some commands while playing with a ball or playing fetch. And I would strongly suggest you bring some treats with you.

Your dog will not only pay more attention as it will know those good things happen when they obey.

Learn How To: Get Your Dog To Stop Barking

Final Step: Am I Finally Ready To Adopt A Dog?

Tell me… Do you feel like these tips are useful? Do you think that you should follow these tips as a guideline to adopting your new best pal? Have you analyzed your own energy levels, in order to know what sort of dog you should look for?

If the answer to these questions is YES, then I believe you are definitely ready to adopt a dog. So don’t waste any more time, get your boots ready, and head down to the local shelters to pay the dogs a visit!

And don’t forget to share this article with fellow family and friends!

Other Puppy Adoption Related Topics:
1. Best Dog Beds For Irish Wolfhounds
2. Waterproof & Weatherproof Outdoor Dog Beds
3. Top Dog Beds For German Shepherds

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