This post was most recently updated on July 13, 2021
As the trope goes, dogs are [hu]man’s best friend, so we’re not surprised you want to adopt a pooch pal.
Before you bring your dog home, there are a few ways to prepare for their arrival and your new life as a pet parent. First, we congratulate you on deciding to adopt, especially if you’re going for an animal rescue or shelter dog.
What dog breed should you get?
With over 200 known breeds to choose from, it can be overwhelming for prospective pet parents to decide which dog breed is right for them.
If you're adopting a dog from a shelter, then the dog's breed might not matter as much to you as the dog's temperament and personality does.
What dog breed matches your personality?
You might want to think about the dog's age, too. Some dog personalities change as the dog gets older. An older dog who has outgrown the puppy stage can be a great addition to families with young children.
Older dogs of certain breeds can help to teach young children how to be around animals.
Pay attention to how your kids interact with certain dog breeds in public spaces. Pay attention to the age, temperament and personality of various breeds, and consider how that might factor into your dog adoption process.
What dog breed matches your lifestyle?
Finding the right dog is like playing matchmaker—from size to temperament—you have many options. Think about your lifestyle and how it matches with a dog you’d like to adopt:
- Is the dog breed good for kids?
- How spacious is your home?
- Do you enjoy jogs or walks?
Answering these questions will inform you of the breed most suitable for you.
If you are still unsure about adopting a pet, spend time with your friends and relatives who have dogs, and see how you feel around their pooches. Ask questions; dog people love talking about their furry friends.
What do you need to buy before adopting a dog?
Bringing home a new dog is an exciting moment, but it can go south quickly if you're not adequately prepared for your new family member.
Dogs need a space of their own when adjusting to a new environment, so buying a dog crate is essential. Other essentials include:
- Proper food for your dog's breed, age, and special dietary needs
- Designated food and water bowls
- A collar and leash suitable to your dog's size and age (bonus points for a name tag with your contact information)
- Dog bags or potty pads for cleaning up their waste
- Dog toys
- Dog treats
- Dog medicine and care items (typically this includes heart worm and flea prevention, and any other medications specific to the dog you're adopting)
Is your home dog-proofed?
Once you have an idea of what dog supplies you'll need, here are some things to mull over as you prepare your home:
- Where will the dog bed and bowls go?
- If you have other pets in the house, how and where will they coexist?
- Is the yard fenced? If you don’t have a yard, are there suitable places to walk and pick up after your dog? How about a local dog park?
- If you have doors and gates, do they lock or have screens?
- Where do you keep your chemicals, plants, and foods that are bad for dogs?
- What’s your work schedule like, and who will take care of the dog when you’re out of town or are away all day?
Where do you go to adopt a dog?
Pet adoption is a unique process everywhere you go. You can adopt dogs from animal shelters, rescue leagues, adoption agencies, and locally or through word-of-mouth. There may be adoption fees associated with the center you choose, so be sure to ask questions about finances during the process.
Is it better to adopt from a shelter or rescue a dog?
Although they make great pals, 670,000 shelter dogs are euthanized each year. As such, we highly recommend adopting from a shelter, but where do you start? You likely know some dog owners in your life; reach out to them to learn where they went.
If you prefer to do independent research, a simple search engine query will lead you to a list of local adoption agencies. We suggest adopting through a reputable non-profit organization or your local animal shelter.
While there, confirm your dog’s medical record (what’s available) and whether they’ve been spayed or neutered. Some dogs have unique grooming needs; a conversation with the adoption agency or a vet visit will help you discern how to best care for your dog.
Other dog adoption questions to ask:
You’ve just about checked all the boxes on our dog adoption checklist, but here are a few other things we’d like you to consider:
- Are you ready to handle the expenses that come with owning a dog: dog insurance, surprise vet visits, grooming, preventive medical care, dog sitter, emergency funds, and toys and treats all go into the Annual Cost of a Dog.
- Will you need help house training your dog? Remember that it may take a while to potty train your pup or break any bad habits they may have developed.
- Do you know how to care for your dog’s everyday grooming needs: nail clipping, bathing, wiping paws, and brushing?
- Do you have a network of friends who already have dogs who can help answer questions along the journey? If not, be sure to visit our Blog Bowl for tips.
Next, hop over to our puppyhood pages, where fear-free pet behaviorist Sarah Hodgson gives insights into how to relate with a new puppy. You don’t have to be adopting a youngster to get value out of these tips, though.
Get a free quote from Spot to see how much you might spend on a monthly premium to help cover vet costs.
Having a steady pet insurance premium might help make the cost of your future pooch a bit more predictable (vs. unknown vet bills).
You can get a quote before you have a dog, if you’re curious; just enter the approximate age and breed you think you might get.
When you get your dog, take a few minutes to complete an emergency preparedness form for them. This is an emergency response team-recommended measure that will establish an in-case-of-emergency plan for your dog from the start.
Benefits of adopting a dog
Owning a dog is a major responsibility, so we want to make sure you’re prepared.
Caring for a dog will also show you how to become more accountable—think about morning walks and feeding times. And, now, you’ll always have a great conversation starter and a ton of material to post on social media.