How To Adopt a Dog

bull dog laying down

Due to so many dogs being homeless and living in shelters you should learn how to adopt a dog.

You want to make sure you find a dog you and your family would like to keep forever. You want to make sure you are comfortable with the following things regarding a dog

  1. Are you going to exercise the dog?
  2. Do you have the time to train a dog?
  3. Can you afford a dog?

Exercise is an important part of the mental and physical health involving a dog. Dogs can act irrational when they are lacking severely in the area. Don’t neglect the number one thing you need to do every single day if possible. Exercise you dog. Dog Exercise for All Breeds should be a great resource.

Make it very personal to get outside and create that bond. Step into your dog’s world and live with mother nature. The lasting impact on the relationship will be unmatched.

There is not one thing you can do with a dog and get as many results as you can with just exercise. The Ultimate Guide to Walk a Dog will give you all the information you need on walking your dog correctly

This commitment needs to be serious. If you can exercise twice a day that is ideal for best dog behavior but if you can only do it once a day it will have you in a great space.

You need to have time to train the Basic Dog Commands. If you have time for exercise and training with the drive and ambition to make sure you are taking care of your dog, you should look to adopt a dog.

Your new dog is going to need shots, vet visits, grooming, food and other items and you should be able to buy these items at any time.

Finding the Right Dog to Adopt

The right dog has many definitions. The right for you may be a dog that is little or a guard dog, but that description is a little broad. If you can find an energy match that would be great for the long term and help you keep the dog instead of giving it away or living in regret.

Be honest about how much you want to exercise and train the dog. For example, if you get an energetic dominant dog you must deal with everything that comes with it. If you want a more easy-going approach find a submissive lazy dog that requires very little maintenance.

Getting a high maintenance dog when you are only willing to deal with a low maintenance dog won’t work out for you and the dog. Remember this when you go to adopt a dog for the family.

Items You Need to Buy to Adopt a Dog

A new dog needs the following items because they get to your house or shortly after they arrive:

  1. Food Bowl
  2. Water Bowl
  3. Collar
  4. Leash
  5. Dog food
  6. Shots
  7. Backyard
  8. Crate

These are the basics you may want to add some in or take some out. Either way you need to have a certain number of items bought before or right after you bring the dog home. You want to make sure you are ready to train and not busy buying items the first day you adopt a dog.

Puppy Proofing Home Before Adopting Dog

  1. Living room
  2. Rooms
  3. Bathroom
  4. Kitchen
  5. Backyard

The living room should be free of all hazard’s material. Anything your puppy can eat and possibly become sick. Take everything out of the living the puppy can chew on.

You don’t want them to chew on electrical wires and hurt themselves. AKC has an article about specific items in to Puppy Proof Indoor and Outdoors. Excellent link to help puppy proof the home before you adopt a dog.

In the room’s dogs will chew up shoes, papers, and other materials while they’re teething. Get them chew toys to play with in their crate and other approved areas in the house.

Bathrooms can become a large water bowl and a place to use the restroom. Always keep doors shut and use baby gates if it starts to develop into an issue.

Kitchen knives, open cabinets, and under the sink where bleach and other materials are at should be put up and enclosed. Making sure your dog can’t get into these areas will prevent them from hurting themselves.

Backyards can have a lot of stuff you never knew was back there and your dog will chew and play with them all. Thoroughly clean all trash and make sure the dog has a clean backyard area.

You want to make sure you have a strong handle on all the different areas inside of the home before adopting a dog.

Dog Veterinarian

Your dog will need shots and at times the dog will get sick. Check with the local reviews of these places to make sure they have excellent customer service and reasonable prices. This is a guide for the First Year of Puppy Vaccinations. 

You may want to invest in puppy insurance and avoid making huge payments if something serious happens. A vet will help direct you to popular and special needs insurance programs that may be cost effective in the future.

Dog Shelter

A shelter is a place where lost, stray, and abandoned dogs are likely to end up if they have no owner. Some owners will drop their dogs off because they don’t want them or couldn’t figure out a way to peacefully coexist with their animal. These are excellent places to adopt a dog.

Animals of certain breeds are more likely to not get adopted and others will exhibit behavior that is inconsistent with the guidelines of how they need to behave to get an adoption.

They’re mostly operated on a state level with the federal government letting the shelters be regulated according to their state requirements.

With over 5,000 different shelters with different rules and requirements across the United Stats it makes it hard to not adopt one instead of buying a new one.

Over crowding is a huge issue that needs to be addressed. There are way too many dogs and not enough staffing at many of these locations.

Dog Rescue

A rescue has an exclusive focus to adopt dogs that have been mistreated, abused, disabled, ex-fighters, or from some type of puppy mill that needed to place a huge number of dogs in different locations. Again this is a great place to look for dogs that need adoptions.

They have certain animals they like to adopt and at times they will only take in certain breeds of dogs. Make sure you are familiar with what they have to offer before you invest time into visiting one of these places.

Rescues are staffed better for the number of dogs they have. They have a closer relationship with the dogs, and it has a more personal vibe with each individual dog they have.


A questionnaire can be daunting, but the shelter or rescues would like to know a lot about the owner before they let the dog go to a home. The process can be tedious, but here is some of the information you should be prepared to provide

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Age
  4. Marital Status
  5. Occupation
  6. Who lives at the home?
  7. What type of house you have?
  8. 1 story or 2 story
  9. Pool
  10. Other Animals
  11. Old Dogs
  12. Experience with puppies
  13. Questions regarding the new dog
  14. Situational what if questions

These questions can be very personal and detailed to help the place you wish to adopt from understand yourself and your experience level with dogs. Where do you live and with who? Make sure you understand that this is required in the process before you proceed to do the interview.

Before adopting a dog you need to be answer these questions honestly. 


The interview is simply more questions, but they get more into your preparation and thought process about dealing with a dog. They really want to know are you in it for the long-term.

Are you looking to have this dog until they pass away?

The interview may address the following:

  1. Financial capability
  2. Household agreement
  3. Other pets
  4. History of previous dogs
  5. What ifs involving current and new dog not getting along
  6. Kids
  7. How long is pet going to be alone during weekdays
  8. Can you train a dog?
  9. Do you have a secure backyard?
  10. What’s the reason for the dog adoption?

Make sure you have the proper preparation and can answer these questions honest and truthfully. The shelter or rescue should be able to make an informed decision based on the facts.

Although an interview may appear discouraging many dogs get adopted and come right back. Interviews are important for screening unfit owners looking to adopt a dog.


The meet and greet should consist of your current dog(s) at home and the new one you are seeking to adopt. Make sure without any excuses you have your dog fully exercised.

The reason for this caution is because the dog at the shelter or rescue is most likely not getting any and you can only control your current dog. Make sure you take extra care in bringing your dog up to the meet and greet wore out and ready to socialize without high energy levels.

When meeting a new dog make sure before you start talking to the dog to let the dog sniff you. Nose usage is important, and you want your new dog to be using their nose.

In addition, check out this dog’s body language. You want the tail down, ears back, body relaxed. If you see tail up, ears up, and body alert you be looking at a nervous or dominant dog.

The choice is yours, but I never bring dogs home that display that body language. Training them is very high maintenance and takes a while before they stop attempting to control and run the pack.

Background Check

A background check be administered in your state. Check with local and state laws to make sure you know the requirements. No need to get far into the process just to fail the background check.

They want to make sure you don’t have animal cruelty criminal behavior in the past. Sure charges will disqualify you because they don’t want the dog to go somewhere and become a victim of someone with a history of mistreatment of animals.

Home Visit

There are six areas where they will be looking to make sure you are ready right now to take a dog home

  1. House
  2. Fence and Yard
  3. Neighbors
  4. Living Arrangements
  5. Pet Hazards Inside and Outside
  6. Current Pets

This is the final step before they finalize the paperwork and hand you the leash! Stay committed to the process and get familiar with what they want to see from the household. Once this inspection and checklist is complete, Congrats on the new dog.

Finalizing Adoption

The last stages of the adoption are

  1. Microchip
  2. Vaccinations
  3. Spay/Neuter
  4. Adoption Contract
  5. Paying for the dog

Microchip is a tool that is injected into the dog’s body and is a tracking device. You will always be able to find your dog. All you must do is call your vet and have them give you a location.

Vaccinations must be up to date and you will be given this paperwork.

The dog is it isn’t already will be neutered/spayed.

Time to sign the contract and pay for the dog.

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Dog?

The fees vary you must call and check with your local adoption centers. Some are free but most want to be paid for the cost associated with keeping and caring for the dog.

Age Requirements to Adopt Dog

Most states require you are an adult and over the age of 18.

10 Pet Dog Adoption Websites

In addition to checking these national adoption organizations you should also check locally and see if you can find a good match for you and your family.


The adoption process is long and tedious, but it will be well worth it in the end. There are so many dogs without a place to live that it is important to go to shelters, or rescues, and try to find a dog instead of buying a new one.

The decision is yours and you have the right to pick whatever one is best for you and your family. Giving dogs a second change at life is one of the greatest gifts we can give to a dog that had a rough start to his or her life.

Weigh the pros and cons before you make the decision. This information should give you a solid foundation and the proper expectations for how the entire process works. Very hard to pinpoint exactly how it works because each place is slightly different but they should have a process that is similar.

Additional Resouces