How To Adopt A Dog

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Dog in wire crateYou’re considering adopting a dog! And you are taking the time to research how to care for it before you’ve even adopted – 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 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

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)
  • You get to see the dog grow up in your family
  • They’re so cute!
  • You will get to spend their full lifetime together
  • Need a lot of care and attention
  • Will need to be trained
  • Lots of exercise and play is needed
  • May 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 some people who have recently raised a puppy to give you a realistic picture of what your life will be like. 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

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 they are growing in to their body and still learning many new things.



  • Better idea of what to expect while raising
  • See more of their personality and temperament than you can in a puppy
  • May be housetrained (but maybe not so be sure to ask!)
  • Still need training, exercise and ongoing socializing
  • Less mature mentally and emotionally

Adopting an Older Dog

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 much
  • Typically shelters have their medical history
  • Most will be housebroken so fewer accidents in the house
  • May have a “ruff” background
  • Potential behavioral issues

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 have experienced before you makes them that much more appreciative of their forever home and family.

Where To Adopt a Dog

Adopting a dog is rather easy and there are tons of places you can adopt dogs. Adopting 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 great before you finalize the adoption paperwork. There are also many online sites that have dogs available for adoption. Here are just a few options:

How to adopt a Dog

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

  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 and express your interest and see what the next steps are to get your adoption rolling.
  6. Manage your expectations for taking 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. After the adoption is finalized, consider getting pet insurance. Should anything happen to your dog, you want to be prepared. Here is a comparison of some of the Best Pet Insurance Providers and please note that the younger the dog, the cheaper your annual premium. Plus a few companies offer a discount for rescue dogs!

Pros and Cons of Owning a Dog

Overall, we feel that the benefits of owning a dog greatly outweigh the few minor inconveniences that come with the territory. We realize that dog ownership isn’t for everyone though 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 kiss
  • Loyal
  • They always look like they are smiling
  • Always happy to see you
  • You’re never alone
  • You build a great relationship with them and become best friends
  • Caring for another being (great step for those considering having kids)
  • Experience health benefits for humans associated with pet ownership
  • Poop and dog hair cleanup
  • Require you to be responsible and attentive to another living being
  • Maintenance (baths, brushing, meds, nails clipped, dental cleanings, etc.)
  • Take up room (dog bed, dog house, toys, food, water, yard, etc.)
  • Must make time to walk or exercise them
  • Your sleep schedules may conflict with one another
  • Additional costs for taking care of another loved one
  • Boarding costs when you travel

My Thoughts on Dog Adoption

I’ve always thought to myself, the first dog I’ll own will be purchased. Whether it be from a family friend or a breeder, I thought that’s what I’d do. Then after that I’d adopt from a shelter. To be honest, after writing this article, I couldn’t imagine doing that. Watching this video brought me to tears. There are so many dogs who need our help and I want to be able to do that with my life, including the first dog I am a parent to. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a dog but I’ve realized that, for me, rescuing is definitely the way to go. I can’t wait to adopt my first dog and gain a new best friend.

Why You Should Adopt a Dog

Each year, about 3.9 million dogs are put into shelters and 1.2 million dogs are euthanized. These dogs need your help. You could literally 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.

What do you love most about your adopted dog?

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She has been writing about dogs since 2014, covering subjects such as dog insurance, training, health, accessories and more. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing and personally testing canine products and services. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs.

Kimberly grew up in a family that loved Labrador Retrievers and remembers running and playing in the yard with them as a child. In 2017, she and her husband adopted their Coonhound mix, Sally, from a local shelter. Kimberly's research was put to good use since Sally faced some aggression issues with other dogs and needed some training to be an inside dog. She worked daily with Sally and sought help from professionals to help Sally become the happy pup she is today.

One of Kimberly's favorite pastimes is spoiling Sally with new toys, comfy beds and yummy treats (she even makes homemade goodies for her). She tries to purchase the safest products for Sally and knows that each canine has their own specific likes and dislikes. Kimberly is passionate about dogs, and knows the bond between humans and canines is like no other.

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