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Dog Adoption Guide: Choosing a Breed, Home Prep & More | Pupford

December 27th, 2023

Filed under Pet Parenting

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The big day is here! The day you get to adopt your dog. But have you done all of your homework? If not, we've got you covered with our dog adoption guide. Remember, this is a BIG commitment--it’s like getting married, but even better!

I’m kidding.

Finding the perfect pupper for you requires some dating, dumping and maybe some heartbreak. But it’s all worth it when you find “the one”. Let’s talk adoption.

If you have to choose between buying your pup at a pet store or adopting, I would urge you to adopt. Pet store pups often come from puppy mills, which have a bad reputation for treating them like trash.

Adopting a dog typically happens through shelters or rescues. These locations have an end goal of finding forever homes for all the dogs. Now that sounds like something to support!

Where do you start?

Related Reading: 31 Vital Things to Know Before Getting a Dog


Just like humans, dogs have their own personalities. Different breeds have common traits specific to them. You really never know a pup until you meet him and spend time with him.

If you’re curious about what type of dog your personality matches, take our quiz.

Make sure you do your research. If you’re looking for a hunting dog, a miniature poodle is probably not your best bet. Think of why you want the dog and look for breeds that mesh. Try to have a few options since you never know what will be available for adoption.

Next, look for shelters or rescues near you. A great resource is Adopt A Pet. This site allows you to plug in your preferences to find areas near you with what you’re looking for.

adopt-a-pet-image | Pupford

Also, it wouldn’t hurt to make sure you (or any of your family) aren’t allergic to dogs. If they are, just look for a hypoallergenic dog!

Related: Best Apartment Dogs

One final thing during the research process. If you hate hair/slobber make sure to see which dogs come with extra saliva or experience excessive shedding.

The last thing anyone wants is for you to regret your dog choice when you get home.

🐶 Don't miss out, sign up for the 100% free New Dog Starter Course. Sign up here! 🐶


Many people wonder if dog adoption is free, and it's usually not. The adoption fee varies depending on your location, age, and size of the dog. It can be anywhere from $0-$300. Anything above $300 is most likely a breeder.

Adoption fees usually cover initial vet costs to prep the dog for their new home. It’s also to cover food and water while they are at the shelter.

Once your pup is home, keep in mind you will have other things that cost money:

  • Food
  • Vaccinations
  • Spay/Neuter Operation
  • Flea Meds
  • Supplements

And some fun stuff:

  • Doggie Bed
  • Toys
  • Clothes

Dogs are fun but they do cost money, so make sure you are ready financially.

a-dog-who-was-adopted | Pupford


This one is HUGE. Whether you live with a spouse and kids or an apartment full of roommates, make sure to communicate with them before buying a dog.

Everyone has the best intentions before getting a dog. “I’m going to get up every morning and take Skip for a walk before work”. “I’ll come home during lunch and let Skip out”. “I’ll take Skip to the dog park every week”.

This doesn’t always end up happening because life just gets busy. If you have buy-in from your family or roommates, you know you can get a little help from them every once in a while.

Don’t be surprised if they fall in love with your pup!

🐶 Don't miss out, sign up for the 100% free New Dog Starter Course. Sign up here! 🐶


Once you have a dog in mind, set up a meet and greet. A dog can look good on paper but be completely different in person.

Come prepared with questions and be sure to bring family members and even other pets. You want to make sure that your pup gets along with everyone.

Get ready to be interviewed. Just like you want the right pup for you, the shelter or rescue wants to make sure that you are the right one for the pup. Here are a few examples of questions you might be asked:

  • Do you rent or own your home?
  • If you rent, does the landlord allow pets?
  • Do you have a fenced backyard?
  • How many hours a day will your dog be left alone? (Related Reading: How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone?)
  • How long have you been at your current job?
  • Do you have kids?

This might seem a bit intrusive but it’s all to make sure that this dog will have a loving home.

a-dog-needing-adoption | Pupford


Some adoption agencies might require a home visit, so be sure to prep your home ahead of time. Also, be sure to have a vet in mind. Depending on your location they might also require a vet reference.

Back to home prep. If you’re getting a puppy be sure to get cords and other fun chewy stuff out of reach. That includes shoes, baby toys, dangerous & toxic foods, etc. Check out our full puppy-proofing guide here.

Make sure to buy your dog’s necessities: food, food/water bowls, leash, crate. You can check out the complete new puppy checklist here (great for older dogs, too).

Speaking of a crate. Make sure to read up on crate training before your pupper comes home. It’s important to do this before, so you can start as soon as possible with training.

🐶 Don't miss out, sign up for the 100% free New Dog Starter Course. Sign up here! 🐶

A few things to consider with crate training:

  • Make sure to get the right size crate depending on your dog
  • Collapsable is nice for traveling and storing
  • Never use the crate for punishment

When done properly, a crate can be seen as a safe haven for your pup and it’s a great way to house train.

Related Reading: How to Train a Rescue Dog

If you are still on the fence about adoption, consider fostering (if available). You will get to see firsthand what the dog is like, how they interact with your home and if they are right for you.


a recently adopted dog getting a belly rub | Pupford

You’ve done your research, saved your pennies, and met your rescue dog. Check ahead of time if you need to bring a crate, collar, or leash. I would definitely bring them just to be safe.

Adopting your dog the right way takes time and patience. Raising a dog is the same way. Be patient during the process and know that you will have a lifetime of good years to spend with your doggo.

I can promise you this, if you take care of your pup, your pup will take care of you.

If you're seriously considering adopting a dog, I recommend signing up for the 100% free New Dog Starter Course. Sign up here!

What other questions do you have about dog adoption we could add to this guide? Tell us in the comments!

🐶 Don't miss out, sign up for the 100% free New Dog Starter Course. Sign up here! 🐶


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