What Do You Need to Adopt a Dog?

If you’re in search of a fluffy friend to provide affection to your household, or aiming to provide a rescue animal a nurturing home, the process for adopting a dog may appear daunting.

But it doesn’t have to be! With this ultimate guide to adopting a rescue dog, you’ll soon be ready to take on the task of welcoming a new dog into your life.

How to Adopt A Rescue Dog: Process, What to Expect and How to Prepare

Decide On The Breed or Size Of Dog

The first step in adopting a dog is deciding which breed or size of dog that best fits your lifestyle. Click here to learn about the 12 Best Dogs for First Time Owners.

Prepare Your House

Becoming pet parents is a big responsibility, so before you bring a dog into your home, you need to make sure that you are prepared for the commitment involved. Click here to read the requirements for adopting a dog.

  • Dog proof your home just like you would babyproof your home
  • Remove all the potential chocking hazards
  • Keep all cleaners and chemicals in a hard-to-reach place
  • Get any of your other pets up to date on all shots
  • Find a veterinarian if you don’t already have one
  • Dog proof your yard including repairing your fence, removing any hazardous items or things you wouldn’t want them chewing on

Click here to read our 4 tips for preparing to adopt a new dog.

Buy all the supplies

Be sure to check out pet stores or online retailers for the best selection of items that fit your needs and budget. Whether you’re looking for an extra-large kennel or a small toy bone, you can find it at a great price.

And if you don’t know where to start, don’t worry! We made a list, so you can be sure you have everything you need.

Find Your Furry Friend At A Local Shelter

Once you have made this decision, you have a couple different options to find adoptable pets!

  1. Contact local shelters or rescue groups or visit their website to see the available pets.
  2. Search on websites like AdoptAPet.com, PetFinder.com, or ASPCA.org

Learn About Adoption Policies And Procedures

Depending on the shelter and your state laws, you may need to provide a government issued photo ID such as a driver’s license, proof of address and possibly even fill out an application form. Your chosen shelter or rescue group may also require a home visit prior to finalizing the adoption.

1. Meeting With An Adoption Counselor or Submit Application Form

Many dog shelters and rescues will have you sit down with their adoption counselor to get to know you and what you are looking for, so they can match you with the perfect pooch and explain their adoption requirements.

Otherwise, you can browse the humane society or shelter’s website to find a dog you want to meet and submit an application form.

2. Meet and Greet With Possible Dogs

If you already have a dog, bringing them to the meet and greet to see how they like the other dog is essential.

3. Schedule A Home Visit

Most shelters will want to send someone to visit your home to make sure it is a suitable place for the dog you want to adopt.

They will want to meet your other pets and ask you questions about why you want to adopt another dog, employment status, how much you are going to spend on the new dog, your usual schedule, and your opinions on a variety of pet care topics.

4. Pay The Adoption Fees

Once you’ve found your new dog, you’ll be asked to pay the adoption fee, which can range from $50 to $1k depending on the breed and any medical help that may have been needed when it was rescued.

You must also prove your identity. Most shelters require that you are 18-21+ depending on your state, and you have a government issued photo ID like a driver’s license to confirm your identity.

What’s included in the pet adoption fee? A lot more than you might think! First and foremost, all pets will receive a complete physical examination. They will be up-to-date on their vaccinations and spayed or neutered.

Many shelters offer a complimentary starter package of food and supplies tailored specifically to their new pet’s needs.

Tips For The First Day

First of all, it’s important to provide your pup with a secure environment and comfortable space.

Prepare a designated area in your house that will serve as their own safe space and provide them with essentials such as food bowls, toys, treats, blankets and a crate if they’re crate trained. Make sure this space is quiet and free from any distractions or stressors.

Secondly, take short but frequent walks with your new pet throughout the day. This will help reduce their anxiety levels by providing them with structure during their settling in period. Also ensure that you have plenty of time for snuggles!

Click here to read more tips for the first day.

Why Should You Adopt A Senior Dog?

Many senior dogs have spent too much time in shelters waiting for their forever homes, and their age shouldn’t be a barrier to finding them one. They can provide just as much fun and affection as puppies or younger dogs.

Elderly dogs often come with training already done, making them easier to handle than puppies, who require more attention and time-consuming potty training. They also have less energy, so are better suited to quieter lifestyles or even ones with limited space.


How much does it cost to adopt a dog?

The cost of adopting a dog depends on several factors, including breed, size and age. Fortunately, there are many ways to save money while finding your new pet.

The adoption fee is typically the largest expense when it comes to adopting a dog; however, this number can range from as little as $50 up to thousands of dollars for certain breeds.

In addition to the adoption fee, there may be additional costs such as supplies like food bowls and bedding or any necessary medical care for older dogs or those with special needs.

It’s also important to consider that owning a dog includes ongoing expenses like food and veterinary care that should be planned for ahead of time.

How long does it take to adopt a dog?

The length of time it takes to adopt a dog can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the adoption process of the specific shelter or rescue organization, and the availability of the type of dog the adopter is looking for.

In general, the adoption process can take anywhere from six days to two weeks, and sometimes even longer.

This can include filling out an adoption application, undergoing an interview process, and sometimes a home visit. Click here to read more about what goes into adopting a pet.

What is the 3-3-3 rule?

The first “3” in the 3-3-3 rule refers to the first three days. As your dog settles into their new home, it’s important to keep in mind that the transition can be overwhelming for them.

The second “3” refers to the first three weeks. As your new shelter dog starts settling in, you’ll likely notice a shift in their behavior.

The final “3” refers to the first three months. By the three-month mark, your dog should have a strong sense of belonging in their new home and a deep trust in you as their owner.

Click here to learn more about the 3-3-3 rule.

What should you not do when adopting a dog?

Puppy mills are large-scale breeding operations that often keep animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions with little or no veterinary care.

As a compassionate pet parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re not contributing to this cruel practice by buying from a breeder or pet store that sources their puppies from puppy mills.

Instead, look for rescue organizations or shelters and consider adopting an adult dog as well as looking for a pup. Adopting older dogs can be incredibly rewarding – plus you get the added benefit of knowing exactly what kind of temperament they have before bringing them into your home.

What should you consider before adopting a dog?

When adopting a pet, it’s also important to make sure they will be a good match for your family and lifestyle.

Make sure that you understand the habits of the breed and whether they will be compatible with everyone in your home.

You also want to think about how often you are away from home, and if there are other animals in the house that need to get along with each other.

Is it better to adopt or buy a pet?

Surrendered animals have been traditionally house-trained and can be adopted from their homes and have a family atmosphere. Adoption of pets by animal shelters is less complicated than buying a pet from a pet shop or from another source. The cost of buying a pet can range from $500-$5000.

Final Thoughts

Adopting a dog is a life-changing experience that brings immeasurable joy to both you and your new furry friend. Taking the time to research, prepare, and go through the process of adoption will ensure a smooth transition into pet parenthood.

Knowing what to expect, understanding the commitment involved, and being ready for the responsibility of caring for a dog will help make your adoption experience as memorable as possible. So don’t wait another minute, start your journey toward pet ownership today!

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