Adopting a dog: Everything you need to know about how to adopt a dog

Any prospective dog owner would have thousands of questions about dog adoption, how it works, and what they need to consider before they invest their time and money into getting a perfect pooch. Here's what you should know.

Adopting a dog can be difficult and complicated, so make sure that you're ready for it.
Adopting a dog can be difficult and complicated, so make sure that you're ready for it.  © Unsplash/Agatha

There are many dogs out there to choose from, and many considerations to take into account when thinking about dog adoption.

Ultimately, you're making the choice to add a family member, and such a decision comes with a lot of responsibility and an equal amount of pressure to make the right selection.

What breed should you get, do you have enough space? These are all important questions.

Giant St. Bernard puppy wows TikTok: "She's just a baby!"
Dogs Giant St. Bernard puppy wows TikTok: "She's just a baby!"

In this dog guide, TAG24 will take a look at dog adoption. What do you need to think about when adopting a dog or puppy, how do you give up your own dog for adoption, and should you even get a dog in the first place? Let's find out.

Dog adoption: Considerations when adopting a dog

There are many things you need to consider when adopting a rambunctious rover. From health concerns to the setup of your house, from your financial situation to the amount of free time you have, a lot of things need to be thought through deeply before you can even consider the possibility of getting a dog.

Here are the main things you should think about before dog adoption:

Health and vaccinations: Your dog needs to get all the necessary vaccinations. The requirements change state-to-state and country-to-country, so it's best to check them specifically for your area. On top of that, before adopting, you need to make sure that you have all the dog's medical records and history so that you know what you're getting yourself into.

Living situation and house: Is your house too small for the size pooch you're thinking of getting? Are you living in a tiny apartment in the middle of a major city? Is there a yard or a fully enclosed balcony that your dog could go out onto? Dogs need exercise as well, and will get restless, so they need to be given plenty of space to roam and explore.

Your neighborhood: Is your neighborhood okay for pedestrians and dog walkers, and are there any parks (preferably dog parks) nearby? You'll be walking your dog at minimum once a day, preferably at least twice, so you need to make sure that your neighborhood is okay for dogs.

Lifestyle and work-life balance: Will you have enough time to walk your dog, give it baths, clip its nails, and generally look after it? Dogs are very demanding and require a lot of time commitment. On top of that, vacations may become difficult and expensive if you get a dog, whether you pay to leave them home or bring them along. Think about whether your dog is work safe, if you work overly long days and risk giving it separation anxiety, and whether having a dog is something you can sustain with your lifestyle.

Finances: This one's quite simple - dogs are expensive, as they require consistent health checkups, good quality food, and will often make an array of other things even more expensive (for example, travel).

Safety and allergies: Do you have dog allergies? What about other people who live with you, your family, or friends who regularly come over? If your dog gives people allergy attacks, things can get pretty unpleasant pretty quickly. Additionally, is the dog going to be unsafe for any people or animals in your household? Do you have a baby, is the dog a bit aggressive, or are there any risks at all?

If you haven't considered and determined that each of these factors are going to be okay for you, you simply shouldn't adopt a dog. They need space to play and live, they need to be in a neighborhood where walking is an easy and pleasant thing to do, and you need to be both healthy and stable to be able to look after them properly.

It may seem harsh, but adopting a dog is a huge responsibility and a commitment that you have to embrace fully.

Getting a dog: Should I get a dog?

As we have established, dogs are a big commitment and are not the easiest animals to take care of. You need to take them on walks, look after their health, pay for their food, give them plenty of love, and put up with their eccentricities. It's a complicated relationship that's well worth the effort, but not for the faint of heart (or, indeed, the overly busy).

If you're thinking about adopting a dog, you should be able to answer "Yes" to the following few questions:

  • Are you old enough to look after a dog properly?
  • Do you have enough money to pay for all the dog's upfront costs, such as vaccination and neutering?
  • Is your income stable?
  • Is your house big enough for a dog?
  • Do you have a yard?
  • Is your neighborhood dog friendly and walkable?
  • Are there dog parks, or parks in general, nearby?
  • Are you allergy-free?
  • Will you have the time to look after your dog and take it for walks?
  • Is your home dog-safe?
  • Do you live with people? / Is your family okay with getting a dog?
  • Are you allowed to have a dog in your apartment or house (if you're a renter)?
  • Do the people you live with/your family also want a dog?

In the case that you have answered yes to all these questions, it's time to start the process. The next move is to go to the pet shop, pound, or a breeder, and get advice from them on how to move forward!

Owning a dog isn't easy, but it is worth it.
Owning a dog isn't easy, but it is worth it.  © Unsplash/McKayla Crump

Adopting a puppy

It's a smart move to adopt a dog when it's still a puppy, as the dog is still impressionable and a relatively blank slate. On top of that, you will get more time with the doggo and will have plenty of opportunities to train the puppy the way that you want it to be trained and to respond to you. This way you can ensure good behavior, and you can help it learn a variety of positive characteristics.

To adopt a puppy, you should generally go to either a pet shop, a breeder, an animal shelter, or a rescue group. The latter two options are fantastic as you are giving a puppy-in-need of a loving and friendly home. If you don't want the potential baggage or complications that can come with a shelter adoption, the first two options may be better suited for you.

Adopting senior dogs

Adopting a senior dog is a different story. Generally done through a pound or animal shelter as a way of giving an older dog another chance at a good life, senior dog adoption comes with its own set of challenges. After all, older dogs have more health problems, are often very set in their ways, and can be very difficult to deal with from time to time.

It is best never to adopt a senior dog if you have kids, as it is likely not to live a huge amount longer and this can be difficult for childen to come to terms with. When adopting a senior dog, make sure to get a full health checkup immediately, have your house set up properly for it, and accept that it may be harder for you to train it with new or better behaviors.

How to give a dog up for adoption

It can be very hard and very traumatic to give up a dog for adoption.
It can be very hard and very traumatic to give up a dog for adoption.  © Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez

If you discover that you need to give up your dog for adoption, it will likely be one of the saddest and hardest things you've ever done.

With that in mind, it's extremely important to build a healthy and solid support network around you. Make sure your friends and family know what's happening, and see if they can come and help you with the process in some way.

Other than the emotional component of the situation, there's not much else to be said about giving your dog up. There will be a fair amount of paperwork involved, so that you officially relinquish responsibility and ownership of the doggo, and then you'll need to bring the dog to the relevant location.

Dog found with snout zip-tied shut in horrible abuse case
Dogs Dog found with snout zip-tied shut in horrible abuse case

To give up a dog for adoption, you either need to surrender it at the pound or at a rescue group, or find it a new home yourself. It's extremely important to investigate the place where you surrender it and make sure that it is a safe and humane location, and one that won't put down the dog if it is not adopted after a certain amount of time.

Important: Before you make the difficult choice of giving up your dog, make sure that it has been fully checked by the vet and that you have tried every piece of advice or instruction given to you. It'll be a heartbreaking and traumatic experience for both you and your canine companion, so it should be a last resort.

Getting a dog can be intimidating, but it's worth it!

Dogs are incredibly demanding and will take up a lot of your time. By committing to a dog, you are accepting that vacations will become a lot more difficult, in many cases more expensive, and that your days will have to revolve around getting in enough walks and feeding your canine companion regularly.

You are going to need to develop new rituals, get used to having to entertain what is, ultimately, like a permanent toddler, and spend a lot of time outside. Adopting a dog isn't easy, but it is incredibly rewarding and you'll never want to go back once you've done it. Just make sure that you're ready, and enjoy the ride!

Cover photo: Unsplash/Agatha

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