Adopting a Dog: Adopting and Caring for Your New Family Member

Adoption is the greatest gift you can give an animal, and many charities around the world work hard in order to save lost, abandoned, rejected, orphaned, or given away pets and match them with caring, loving, and nurturing homes in which they can live a happy and healthy life. Taking any pet into your home requires a great deal of work and, to some extent, financial support. Before you go and choose the perfect big eyed and whimpering for love and attention pup, there are some things you should consider in order to make sure you’re ready for that pup and he’s ready for you.

First thing is first, assess your schedule. Why? Well, dogs are social animals and need a lot of time with people. They need to be played with, talked to, pet, and generally interacted with. Some people find their dogs will actually whimper and whine when they aren’t home. As cute as that is in the sense that your dog really adores you, it is heart-breaking, if you’re not home enough to satisfy that need for attention. Dogs are not animals that can merely be fed, watered, and ignored until you have the time to take them out for a walk or play catch. You really have to be involved with them. So, if you aren’t that sort of person or you have little time to offer your pet, you should reconsider your choice of animals. There are other pets that are much less demanding and they could be ideal for someone with precious little time but the desire for a companion of sorts.

Next, think about the financial implications included in owning a pet. While often times pets, especially dogs, can remain relatively inexpensive, you should have the means to support them when necessary. After adoption you’ll need to have them neutered (if it hasn’t already been done at the adoption center), you’ll also have to get them their shots and get them wormed (again, only if it hasn’t already been done). Many states are now recommending microchips to be put into pets as a means of identification, you should want this to be done, otherwise you’ll probably need a identification collar. You’ll also need pet supplies such as food and a food dish, a water dish, bedding, a leash, treats, and some toys. You’ll have to replace these things occasionally well. You’ll need to pay for routine health check-ups at a local vet as well as emergency visits should anything happen. If you want to have your pet groomed you’ll also need to fork out money for that whenever the need arises. These alone can cost a decent start-up cost, keeping up with food, treats, and toys will come later but also be something to think about. You’ll want to feed your pet good quality food to ensure good health, so research good brands, ask the shelter or charity center where you’re planning on getting the pet, or ask a veterinarian.

Next, think about the kind of dog you want. Can your home support them? If you get a dog, having a yard or garden with a fence is advantageous. While you can take your pet out for a walk, being able to let them out to run around and go to the bathroom with more freedom than a leash can offer is always nice. Decide on the age range you’re looking for. Dogs can be adopted as puppies; generally if someone’s pet has puppies and they can’t keep them they’ll give them to the shelter. However, remember with puppies you’ll have to housetrain them unless you plan to keep them outside only. Initially, puppies are a lot more care. They are also a fair deal messier than adult dogs. Similarly, do you want a big dog or little dog? Obviously, little dogs are easier to keep in the house than big ones, but all dogs have different temperaments and even big dogs can be trained to be extremely tame and gentle. Different breeds as well as the individual animals have different personalities. Check with a breeder, do some research, or check with the charity about the temperament and personality of the dog you’re looking at. If you have kids, make sure it is good around kids. If you’re older, perhaps you want an older dog that will be slower paced and easier to handle. It all depends on you, but you’ll have to make sure the dog you pick isn’t more than you can handle.

Lastly, but one of the most important considerations is researching the dog. Many charities will collect information on the dog for you, at least as much as they can, and they will help to make sure you select a dog that will fit into your life. But there are other factors that may not be initially evident that can determine how your pet acts and behaves around you. In general, adopted pets have been through a lot. Since some of them were rejected, abused, given away, they have dealt with a great deal of uncertainty. They may be confused about people, wary, overprotective, and frightened of new things. You may find your dog is too scared to go near you. In circumstances like these it is highly important to be gentle, caring, and loving. Throughout the life of your pet speak kindly to him, speak reassuringly. Give them treats and love. Provide a nice soft bed where they can rest and hopefully relax and feel comfortable. Gradually they will come to trust you and love you and give you the loyalty and devotion that dogs are known for.

When punishing your dog for unwanted behavior, it is important to remember what sort of background your pet has come from. Never hit the dog or yell at it. These things may bring about anger, sadness, depression, aggression, and any number of other things from an adopted pet, especially if they were abused in their last home. The most important thing is providing your pet with a consistent and comfortable environment where they know they are safe. You don’t want them to assume this is just another temporary situation and another uncertainty they will face in life. Dogs are smart; you have to convince them that your home is their home and that you will be there for them. That is one of the reasons why the amount of time you can be there for them is important.

Dogs can be some of the best pets you’ll ever own if you let them. They can be loyal and devoted, steadfast and loving. They can cheer you up when you’re sad and be there for you when no one else is. But you have to return this. If you want to give a gift to a pet, adopt from a local shelter or charity. Use these guidelines and those of the charity to give your dog the best home you can. Train them to be gentle, socialize them, and love them, and you’ll have a friend for life in your dog.



Peterson, C. (2005). “Please Oh Please Can We Get a Dog?” Wiley Publishing Inc. Hoboken, NJ.

Barnes, J. (2004). Living with a Rescued Dog. Ring Press Books. Dorking, Surrey.

Bonham, M. (2005). Dogs Make Great Pets. Howell Book House. Wiley Publishing Inc. Hoboken, NJ.