Around 3 million dogs enter shelters every year and 80% of those that get euthanized are healthy. Shelters simply don’t have the space or resources for so many rescue dogs.
Choosing to adopt a rescue dog is a courageous and selfless decision that will change the life of a dog and undoubtedly change your life too.
If you’re wondering how to adopt a dog and what everything you need to consider, keep reading for a comprehensive guide. And most importantly, get excited for a wonderful life with your newest furry family member.
Think Carefully About the Right Fit When Choosing a Dog
Before you head to your local rescue shelter, consider the type of dog that would be perfect for you. You need to take into consideration your specific lifestyle.
For example, if you have young kids or young family members, you’ll need to find a dog that’s gentle with children. If you’re not active, avoid dogs with high energy needs. What size dog can your home accommodate?
How much time are you willing to spend on grooming? Some dogs require high-maintenance grooming, while others are very low maintenance.
You may want a dog with tons of energy that loves to go running with you, or perhaps a dog that’s comfortable around cats because you already have a pet. Have you got your heart set on a puppy or would you be happy with an older dog?
Consider some non-negotiable qualities so that the employees at the shelter can introduce you to the right dogs.
Visit Your Local Shelter a Few Times to Adopt a Rescue Dog
‘Don’t shop, adopt’ is very important when you’re getting a new dog or puppy. There is a startling amount of dogs in need of a home so if you’ve made the decision to adopt a rescue dog, you’ve made the right one.
If you need any more convincing, just look at this story of a heartfelt moment between a rescue dog and its new owner.
Stop by your local shelter and meet some resident dogs based on the criteria that you’ve decided on. If you find a dog, or more than one, that you like and that you connect with, spend some time with them.
You want to have one-on-one time with potential furry friends to gauge their personality and so they can assess you too. Perhaps play fetch with them or take them for a short walk.
You might know immediately who your new best friend is, or you might still need some time to decide. If that’s the case, go home and sleep on it and visit the shelter for a second time.
Send in Your Dog Adoption Application
When you’ve found your new best friend, the adoption process begins. If you’re working with a reputable shelter you will need to submit an application form. This form will ask questions about your life and living environment to ensure that you’d be a good fit as a dog owner.
This part of the process will likely include a home visit and a small interview. A dog shelter employee will visit your home and assess your living situation.
They will take into account the safety of your home — are there any places the dog can escape? They will also want to know where the dog is going to sleep and other basic metrics.
Gather Supplies to Prepare
Once your application has been accepted, you can start preparing to bring your rescue pup home.
You’ll need to buy some supplies such as dog food and bowls, a collar and leash, and a dog bed. Spoil your rescue dog with some toys and don’t forget a blanket for the wintertime.
You may also want to consider buying a crate for crate training purposes or a travel carrier if you plan to take your dog with you on trips.
Try to plan the arrival of your new pup on the weekend so you can spend quality time helping it settle in.
Establish House Rules
If you’re living with other people who are also taking responsibility for the newest furry housemate, you need to establish some rules and routines. Decide who will feed the dog and when, who will walk the dog, and what are the basic house rules.
For example, is the dog allowed on the furniture? Where will it sleep in the night? Are there any off-limit rooms?
Start Training and Be Patient
You may luck out and bring home a rescue dog that’s already trained. However, when you’re adopting a dog it’s best to assume that you’ll have to do some training.
It’s important to train your new pooch so that you both have a happy adoption. Be patient and go slowly as it will take some time for the dog to adjust to its new living environment and there may be some hiccups. Use lots of positive reinforcement and don’t give up.
Change the Life of One of the Many Rescue Dogs
There are so many rescue dogs in need of a loving home. When you decide to adopt a dog you’re making a wonderful decision to change the life of a deserving pup. And chances are that your life will be changed by your new best friend too.
Remember to take your time choosing a dog and be patient and loving in those first few weeks as they adapt to their new lives.
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