The Guide to Adopting a Dog

Bringing home a new pet is an exciting time in your life – it’s the only time that you truly get to pick who your family is.

Bringing a new dog into the home is a big decision, and we want to help you make the best possible choice for your family. Making sure your dog stays with you forever requires doing some research to find a breed that fits in with your way of life.

Many people get so giddy about getting a dog that they don’t give much thought to the traits they’d like to see in their new pet. Create your own wish list for the perfect dog and go from there before choosing the breed. 

We will help you in this guide to adopting a dog.

Guide to Adopting a Dog

First, before you start daydreaming about which adorable breed would look best in your lap, keep in mind that you need to find a dog that is compatible with your personality and lifestyle.

guide to adopting a dog

Choosing a dog should not be done on appearance alone, but rather on how they will fit into your daily routine.

While it is possible to own a border collie that is a couch potato or a basset hound that is a hyper, most dog breeds were developed by humans with very specific purposes in mind.

Choosing the right breed of dog for you and your family requires a lot of deep thinking and research.

Understanding Your Wants

  • Do you want a loyal companion that loves to swim like a Golden Retriever?
  • Do you want a trail-running buddy or a dog that wants to cuddle on the couch?
  • Is it important that they like playing or running?

Create an illustration of your ideal canine companion. Pick a dog that will thrive in the environment you’ve imagined for them by giving careful consideration to your goals. In addition, this will help you examine your motivations for wanting a dog.

If you’re looking for a furry companion but are put off by the time, effort, and expense of owning one, you might want to consider becoming a dog sitter or dog walker.

Deal Breakers When Choosing a Breed

You undoubtedly have a list of requirements that must be met before you even consider committing to a breed. A dog with a strong prey drive, for instance, is not a good choice if you have small animals in the house. 

You may have a mental checklist of all the qualities your dog must have. For example, you might be certain that you need a dog as a hiking companion for extended trips, in which case a dog that gets tired easily wouldn’t be compatible. 

Research Your Desired Breed

Once you have a good idea of what you want out of your canine companion, begin narrowing down your choices. Even if you are looking at mixed breeds, you will want to take a look at each breed individually to see the characteristics of each.

Considerations for Shelter Adoptions

Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering shelter adoptions vs breeders:

  • Where will your dog come from? You can check PetFinder or Adopt-a-Pet if you’re searching for a specific breed from a shelter. But, if you want something specific, like a Goldendoodle, you may want to take a look at breeders.
  • If you want a puppy, you can still take a look at the shelters. Many shelters have puppies, but they are generally adopted quickly so it’s important to remain vigilant if you’re searching.
  • Shelters have a variety of breeds. It’s a good idea to visit the shelter and visit dogs of different breeds to get to know each one.
  • Make sure the place you’re adopting or purchasing a dog from is a reputable organization. You want to make sure you aren’t adopting from a puppy mill or somewhere that mistreats their animals.

Having said that, there is no cause for alarm when purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder. While it’s wonderful to rescue a dog from a shelter, reputable breeders are also a great choice.

Choosing a Good Breeder

If you do decide to look for puppies from a breeder, there are certain factors you should look at when you’re looking at puppies.

To prevent purchasing a puppy with health and behavioral issues, keep this in mind:

  • Search for breeders that have one litter of puppies at a time
  • Ask about their practices for socialization.
  • Ask for results of tests for common genetic disorders for your breed, if there are certain ones that are common.
  • Request to meet the parent(s).

Puppies from a breeder will often cost anywhere from $500-$4,000 depending on the breed.

Puppies from puppy mills are usually kept with many other litters; sometimes of different breeds. Puppy mills don’t usually keep paperwork and won’t allow you to meet the parent(s).

Questions to Ask When Adopting a Rescue Dog

It’s important to come prepared with questions about the breed and health of the dog when you go searching for one. This relates to what qualities you’re searching for in a dog.

The rescue or shelter may not have the answer to all of these questions, and that’s ok, but don’t hesitate to ask if you have a question on your mind.

  • Has the dog been around children? How did they react?
  • Does the dog get along with other dogs?
  • Do they get along with cats?
  • Does the dog prefer men or women; or both equally?
  • How does the dog do with strangers?
  • Does the dog have any medical problems?
  • Why were they surrendered?
  • Has the dog shown any concerning behaviors?

Is There a Best Time of Year to Adopt a Dog?

Perhaps. Adopting a puppy in the spring allows you to have the opportunity to socialize during the warm months. You should also adopt a puppy when you know you will have plenty of time for training.

Consider what you have going on and if you have enough time to train and socialize a puppy.

How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Dog From A Shelter?

Rescue dogs are generally much less expensive than purchasing a puppy from a breeder.


Adoption Fee

$100 – $500

Vet Checkup (Includes Heartworm / Flea & Tick Meds /  Vaccines, etc)

$150 – $400

Dog Bed



Dog Toys

$30 – $50


$10 – $40

Collar / Harness

$10 – $30

Training / Obedience Classes

$150 – $300


$30 – $150

Pet Health Insurance

$25 – $100 per month


$50 – $100


$10 – $30

Food and Water Bowls

$10 – $50


$0 – $150

Stain / Odor Removers

$10 – $50

Additional costs as-needed

Preparing for Homecoming

You’ve chosen the perfect pup and can’t wait for her arrival to her new home! Now, it’s all about preparing for homecoming. Before you bring your pooch home, make sure you have the necessary supplies, including:


Congratulations! You have found the perfect dog for your family! Enjoy every moment spent together and don’t forget to take plenty of pictures!

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