Dog Adoption: What You Need to Know

There’s a lot to consider when adopting a dog.Congratulations! You’re about to adopt a new puppy and enter a fabulous and fulfilling canine friendship. Besides lots of love and play, though, there are many things to consider as you’re deciding how to add this little furry friend to your family.

Choosing a Dog Breed

Do you want a sweet mixed-breed puppy or dog from the shelter? Or do you prefer a purebred puppy or dog with a pedigree? Dogs vary in physical appearance and personality type; this can be breed-dependent. It’s a good idea to make decisions prior to your search, as you may choose to examine shelters, contact dog breeders, or evaluate breed-specific rescue groups. It is extremely important to thoughtfully consider your current situation and the best dog for you. Please keep in mind that there are lots of puppies and dogs that desperately need a home. Even if you are looking for a specific breed, you might want to consider contacting breed rescues before looking for a breeder. Also, beware of puppy mills. Learn how to avoid puppy mills in this article: "Animal Cruelty: Signs and Prevention of Cruelty to Dogs".

Should You Adopt a Puppy or an Older Dog?

Does the idea of a tiny, adorable, and round puppy appeal to you? Or do you want a more robust, older, and self-sufficient puppy? Perhaps you don’t want to deal with a juvenile at all and would prefer an adult dog? Puppies are incredibly active, full of energy, and require training and lots of attention. Like babies, very young puppies need to eat frequently and don’t sleep through the night. In general, most puppies should be fully weaned from their mothers and eating solid food prior to starting off in a new home. Early removal from moms may result in health or behavior problems.

Consider the Size of Your Home Before Adopting a Dog

Do you have a big house or a tiny studio apartment? No matter where you reside, please make sure to give your puppy a safe place to rest. A crate is excellent for this. Also, make sure that you have adequate room for storing toys, food, leashes, and a crate. Determine whether certain rooms in the house will be off limits to the puppy. Puppy-proof your home by keeping medications and cleaners locked up and appliances closed off. Restrict your puppy’s access to yarn, string, paper clips, staples, and hair bands—all are commonly-identified foreign bodies which, if swallowed, can cause serious injury or even be fatal. Restrict your puppy’s access to trash cans and food scraps.

Consider Your New Dog’s Exercise Needs

Certain dog breeds need significant amounts of exercise to stay happy and well-adjusted. Destructive and anxious behaviors can result from minimal exercise, low stimulation, and lack of socialization. Some breeds are content to sit on an owner’s lap all day long, while others need to exercise for at least an hour today. Some breeds are content to spend time alone for long hours, while others cannot tolerate solitary time.

Adopt a Spayed or Neutered Dog or Have It Done After Adoption

Spaying and neutering is usually recommended for all dogs. This surgery not only helps combat the dog overpopulation problem, but it can also help prevent behavioral problems and certain health issues. Please discuss this with your veterinarian.

Consider Your Other Pets Before Adopting a New Dog

It is important to introduce any other dogs or cats to your new dog under slow and controlled circumstances. Pets gradually acclimate to one another. Please talk to your veterinarian if you’re having difficulties with this. Consult this article for more information.

Consider Your Children before Adopting a New Dog

Do you have babies or children? Teach the children to interact with the new dog gently and with respect. NEVER allow young children or babies to be unsupervised with the dog.

Be Prepared for Playtime

Make sure that you keep things to chew on (approved by your veterinarian) and plenty of enrichment toys available for your dog to enjoy. In addition, please ensure that your dog has plenty of regular contact with human household members both for play and for appropriate socialization.

Consider What Your Dog Will Eat

Are you going to feed your new dog dry kibble or canned food? Both have benefits: dry food is easier to store and handle and can be left out for long periods of time, while canned food is palatable and dogs love it. Many veterinarians recommend breed and size-based diets for puppies. Some dogs will also eat non-prescription sensitive stomach and oral care food. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your new dog, but make sure you have some of the diet that has been previously fed on hand to start out with. Fast diet changes can easily cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

Think About the Dog Supplies You Will Need

You need a leash, collar, dog food, toys, a dog bed, chew toys, and a crate. It’s also a good idea to invest in some books about basic puppy training and management.

Choose a Veterinarian

Identify your veterinarian as soon as you can prior to adoption. Your veterinarian will be your most important resource for your canine’s health and husbandry.It’s good to program your veterinarian’s number into your phone, as well as that of the local animal emergency clinic if there is one. Another good number to make sure that you have at all times is the Pet Poison Control Hotline number: 855-764-7661.

Consider Dog Insurance

The best time to purchase insurance for your dog is as soon as you adopt him. If you wait, any conditions that come up may not be covered then or in the future. The article "Pet Insurance = Peace of Mind" can help you understand and choose dog insurance.

Congratulations on your new family member! With a little forethought on these important issues, the process of adopting a dog can be easy and fun. For more information on how to prepare for the costs of dog ownership, read "How to Be Prepared for Your Dog's Veterinary Bills."


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Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at DogHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.