How To Adopt A Dog Guide (And Our Experience)


Last Updated: January 13, 2023 | 6 min read | Leave a Comment

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Girl at animal shelter with dog in cage (Caption: How To Adopt A Dog)

You’re considering adopting a dog! And you are taking the time to research how to care for it before you’ve even adopted a pet – way to go! We couldn’t be more pleased with your decision. There are many dogs in shelters just waiting for great homes like yours to call their own.

Dog adoption is a fun experience, but you also have many things to consider, like the age of the dog you’re going to adopt. We’ll tell you what to expect for each age group to help you make your dog adoption experience a successful one full of love and joy!

Adopting A Puppy

German Sheppard Puppy

Choosing between a puppy or an older dog is the first decision you have during the adoption process. If you’re an experienced pet parent, you may feel more prepared for adopting a puppy than a first-time pet parent would.

Let’s go over the pros and (so-called) cons of puppy adoption, so you know what to expect.

Training may be something you’re looking forward to, and you can train them to behave the way you wish (as long as they are not too stubborn)Need a lot of care and attention
You get to see the dog grow up in your familyWill need training
They’re so cute!Lots of exercise and play is needed
You will get to spend their full lifetime togetherMay get into things and/or chew and destroy things
Could have accidents in the house until they are housebroken (potty-trained)

We know the cons look overwhelming, but for those of you who truly want to adopt a puppy, you’ll look forward to most of these things. We suggest talking to a few people who have recently raised a puppy to give you a realistic picture of what to expect. If cleaning up messes and having your toes nibbled on for a few months is something you can’t handle, then you should look at adopting an older dog.

Adopting An Adolescent Dog

American Type Golden Retriever in grass

Adolescent age is anywhere from 6 months up to 36 months, depending on the pup. This is the time where your dog will be all legs and have a smaller frame. This is a clumsy time for the dog as it is growing into his body and still learning many new things.

A better idea of what to expect while raisingStill need training, exercise and ongoing socializing
See more of their personality and temperament than you can in a puppyLess mature mentally and emotionally
May be housetrained (but maybe not. Be sure to ask!)

Adopting An Older Dog

Old dog on the ground

Adopting older dogs is great for first-time pet parents. Most adult dogs don’t require as much training and energy as younger dogs, but they still need your attention, as all dogs do. The dog is already mature, so you can see their physical traits and get an idea of what their personality is.

Do not need to train, socialize or exercise as muchMay have a “ruff” background
Typically shelters have their medical historyPotential behavioral issues
Most will be housebroken so fewer accidents in the house

Are you worried that older dogs may have had a bad previous home, and therefore they may have behavioral issues? Don’t be! You can be the change that the dog needs in its life.

Many amazing dogs grow up in shelters or are placed in shelters for various reasons. They need a second chance just like any other dog would, and, in our experience, the hard life they experienced before you makes them that much more appreciative of their forever home and family.

Where To Adopt A Dog

Kopa adoption page

The process of adopting a dog is rather easy, and there are tons of places you can adopt dogs. Choosing to adopt a dog near you can be a lifesaver for some pups. We suggest checking out the local shelters near you first. #AdoptLocal

Many shelters allow you to spend time with the dogs and even take them on walks. This is a great way to see how the two of you mesh with one another. Or, if you have a family, you can see how your kids and the dog play with one another. Further, if you already have a pet at home and are considering adding another one to the family, most rescue organizations will allow and even encourage a meet and greet before you finalize the adoption paperwork.

Many online sites have dogs available for adoption. Here are just a few to consider:

How To Adopt A Dog

Dog and owner on patio with drink

The steps to adopting a dog are few and easy, but they are extremely critical.

  1. Spend time with the dog. Go for a walk, play, pet them and introduce them to your family. See how the dynamic is between the pup and everyone involved in the decision.
  2. Hangout with a couple of other dogs and see how the dynamic is with them to be sure.
  3. Come back another day and see how the relationship is again.
  4. Feel like you found the dog of your dreams? You’re ready to adopt!
  5. Speak with the shelter or current owner/foster parent and express your interest and see what the next steps are to get your adoption rolling.
  6. Manage your expectations for bringing your new furry friend home. Most rescue organizations will not let you take the dog the same day as they will likely need a trip to the vet for booster shots and spay/neuter surgery. Here are some tips for bonding with your new dog when you get home.
  7. Prepare your house for a new pet. There’s a lot to think about but this new dog guide should help you ensure a smooth transition.

Purchase Pet Insurance

Once the adoption is complete, consider getting pet insurance. A medical policy for dogs can help cover unexpected vet expenses. We all experience illnesses and injuries throughout our lives, and our dogs are no different. Pet insurance can reduce the impact of your dog’s emergency vet costs, so you can focus on your dog’s health and not your wallet.

Our pet insurance comparison can help you learn the differences between the most popular providers’ waiting periods, coverage and exclusions, prices, plan options, and age restrictions.

After learning about the companies, you can get a custom quote for your new pup with our pet insurance quote form. All you have to do is tell us a little about your dog, and you’re presented with custom quotes from some of the best pet insurance companies.

Pros And Cons Of Owning A Dog

Family petting dog

Overall, we feel that the benefits of owning a dog greatly outweigh the few minor inconveniences that come with the territory. However, we realize that dog ownership isn’t for everyone and we want you to know what you’re getting into.

Bringing a dog (or any pet) into a household that isn’t truly prepared isn’t good for the people or the animals. That’s why we’ve analyzed the pros and cons, so you know what to expect in owning a dog, whether you adopt them or not. In fact, some of these so-called “cons” may be pros for you!

Empathetic, they know how you are feeling and can tell when you need a slobbery kissPoop and dog hair cleanup
LoyalRequire you to be responsible and attentive to another living being
They always look like they are smilingMaintenance (baths, brushing, meds, nails clipped, dental cleanings, etc.)
Always happy to see youTake up room (dog bed, dog house, toys, food, water, yard, etc.)
You’re never aloneMust make time to walk or exercise them
You build a great relationship with them and become best friendsYour sleep schedules may conflict with one another
Caring for another being (great step for those considering having kids)Additional costs for taking care of another loved one
Experience health benefits for humans associated with pet ownershipBoarding costs when you travel

Adopting A Dog During The Pandemic Statistics

During the COVID-19 outbreak, shelters across the United States have seen increased interest in pet adoptions. Here are some stats from August 2020.

  • According to a survey of 1,008 adults conducted by TD Ameritrade in April and May, 1 in 3 have considered getting a pet.
  • The ASPCA saw a 70% increase in adoptions in April of 2020 over the same period in 2019.
  • A survey of 3,000 pet parents conducted by Mira-Pet found that Americans are bonding with their cats and dogs at rates never seen before.
  • 73% reported that having a pet helped them stay sane during lockdown.
  • A little over a quarter of dog owners said they feared their dogs would suffer separation anxiety when the work from home period ends.
  • 38% said they’d take a pay cut in order to continue working from home solely so they could stay with their pets.

11.38 million U.S. households adopted a new pet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why You Should Adopt A Dog

The ASPCA alone assisted more than 104,000 dogs in 2020. There are dogs everywhere that need your help. You could be the deciding factor between life and death. That’s why adopting a dog is such a great thing to do. Not only will you gain the most loyal best friend, but you’ll also save a life. You could also consider becoming a foster dog parent.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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