mom with two daughters adopting a dog

Adopting a dog should always be an emotional and happy moment. After all, you’re giving that new furry friend a second chance. It’s a win-win situation. Either by visiting a shelter or maybe running into a dog on your way home, there’s no greater joy than seeing their huge grateful eyes learning the meaning of family and trust each day.

However, we may be full of good intentions, but there are certain precautions we must consider so the adoption/rescue process gets the best results. If you are planning to adopt or just bump into a lucky pup, Watch out for these ten things and prepare yourself!

1. Are you prepared to adopt?

This means a lot of things: Think about why you want to get a pet; the size of your home; the required money to buy food for the dog, toys, and visits to the vet…

dog behind fence

Kids, other animals (cats, bunnies, other dogs) and people in your home, are they friendly? Adopting is a lifelong experience, you are now becoming family with your new furry child.

2. Rescuing a stray dog or finding a dog from a shelter?

Take in mind that if you find a stray dog in the streets, you should ALWAYS take it to the vet before taking it home. You don’t know which circumstances he’s been through, so you have to make sure he’s healthy and that you actually can take care of him. This way you’ll know if he needs something else, maybe special care, special food, anything you can learn about this new friend is important.

If you prefer going to a shelter, there are many options. Shelters offer the possibility to choose a specific dog, spend some time with her and see if you like each other. Be aware that you may be requested to pay a fee, usually not too much. Make sure the pets are healthy, checked by the shelter’s vet. You can see the adoption options on the shelter’s website, and they give you a certain time to evaluate if the adoption is working or not, this way you could return the pet IF NECESSARY, but usually, the dogs adapt just fine.

3. If you’re adopting from a shelter and you have options, think about the breed you’re going to get.

As you may know, different breeds require varying levels of maintenance. To know which one it’s going to be the best match, you better learn a bit about them.  There’s a dog breed for each owner. If you are a high-performance athlete, for example, a Weimaraner will love every second running by your side. If you are a single woman, who loves animals, a German Shepherd will offer you company, loyalty, and protection.

If you like a dog you met, ask the shelter staff about the maintenance she will need. We have to consider things like: how much space will she have to run around, apartment or house? The food requirement. The energy consumption. The size of the breed. Is she an independent dog or does she need constant attention? Does she need regular grooming? All these things are important to make a perfect match.

4. Get help from the shelter’s staff

People that work in shelters are usually friendly and eager to help. Let’s think about the Animal Human Society. They give out all the information you need to know.  Ask about everything, how to take care of your new pet and the food you should give it. They will be more than happy to guide you through all the process to make this a quick and rewarding experience for both of you.

5. Rescuing a Stray Dog is a Good Option 

Adopting a stray dog can be a matter of luck. It’s just at the right time and place. You’re on your way to work, and suddenly this furry friend decides to walk by your side all the way to the office… You notice he doesn’t have a collar; he may look a little bit dirty and thin, he let you pet him and eat hastily from your hand…

Cute Stray Dog

Oh, you should take him home, right? Even if this happens you have to make sure he didn’t run away from home, and he’s just lost, but sadly sometimes it’s harder than that: sometimes the dog is hurt, scared or maybe was abused and mistreated. In these cases, you should be wary, calm and ease the dog with gentle moves and a soft voice. Make him believe you’re there just to help him, throw him gently a couple of tricks and be patient, it’s all worth it.

6. Ok, so you decided to take your new man’s best friend home. Is your house prepared?

It’s always imperative to prepare your home for the new arrival. Assign spaces and utilities for everything that matters to your new pet: sleeping place, food bowls and food to fill them, toys, security doors if they’re needed, pet door, grooming stuff like shampoo and hair combs, medicine if needed. Think of everything your new dog would need and prepare it gradually to prevent emergency visits to the store or vet.

7. Yes! My house is good to go but… What about the people that live inside?

two kids with dog in yard in front house

As you make preparations regarding his new home, the people that live already inside it also has to be prepared. If you have kids, you need to tell them they’re going to get a new special member of the family and they have to love him and have patience, they are about to meet their best friend for life, it’s that exciting? If you have another pet, make sure they get along taking him to the shelter for a play date. Your whole family should take “split responsibility” on the new member, set a feeding schedule and make sure he has every need fully covered.

8. Inform yourself about Safety and Diet

lady feed a dog in shelter center

Research, ask, get help, whatever you have to do to make sure you learn EVERYTHING you need to know about this and ensure your pet’s safety. Learn about possible poisonous food (some obvious and some not so obvious: avocado, sugar, alcohol, and onions, among others), Dangers of uncooked bones, diseases and vaccines. Knowing what to do if your dog is choking or has an accident is another important thing to learn about. This knowledge could help you both in a life-or-death situation.

9. Do not buy dogs.

The Stray Dog on the street

Cesar Millan, in his website Cesar’s Way, talks about it:  “the puppies may be adorable, but they’re most likely the products of puppy mills, born to overbred and abused mothers who are often discarded when they can no longer produce litters.” Spending hundreds of dollars in these babies (even when the puppies are completely innocent) could prevent you from saving another dog’s life and in the meantime, you’ll be supporting these “breeding hells.” Think about the olds, the mutts and the ones that have ages waiting for someone to give them a second chance.


Dalmatian puppy in the box

Adopting is an experience that’s going to bring joy to your life, brighten it and make you learn, find, hear and feel new interesting things that you’re going to adore! Having dogs as companions provide many benefits such as relieving stress (look at these puppy eyes!); reducing cholesterol and helping fight a sedentary lifestyle by going on walks; helping with blood pressure and they even might help you to fight insomnia.

So, what are you waiting for? Take the first step and get a new furry member of the family!