5 Questions to Ask before Adopting a Dog

Dog being held

Are you ready to adopt a dog? Bringing a new dog home sounds like a lot of fun: long walks around the neighborhood, playtime excitement, cuddles on the couch. But dog ownership isn’t all fun and games. After all, you’ll be responsible for your dog’s health and well-being for the rest of their life.

Adoption is a long-term commitment. Remember: Whether it's a puppy, adult or senior dog you're considering adopting, the newness soon wears off and you're left with a loving companion for, hopefully, many years to come.



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Questions to Consider before Adopting a Dog

Ask yourself: Do you really want a dog? Do you want to wake up early on a cozy Sunday morning to take them out in the rain? Are you ready to spend as much time as you can with them? Are you prepared for the lifestyle change, the financial impact and grooming considerations? Are you up for cleaning various messes? Getting up in the middle of the night with a sick dog?

Before you adopt, it’s smart to ask yourself these important questions. Some reflection and planning before adopting can help ensure a good fit — for both you and your future pet.


Is Now a Good Time for You to Adopt? 

For a dog waiting for their "forever home,” it's always a good time to be adopted. But don't let them down by bringing them home and then deciding it's simply not the right time for you. Dogs take lots of care and attention, especially when they first come home.

Is this the right time in your life to take on a big commitment? Does your lifestyle allow for the flexibility it takes to acclimate your new dog into your life? Are your current commitments overwhelming, or very manageable?

Have you considered fostering a dog? Fostering has many of the perks of bringing home a new pet — walks, cuddles, playtime — with a shorter-term commitment compared to adopting, and still helps a rescue dog in need.

Why Do You Want a Dog? 

Consider what you're looking for in your future pet. Are they going to be a fun playmate for your children, or will their main job be accompanying an older person on quiet walks? Do you want them to go jogging with you, or will they stay home guarding the house? Certain breeds and personalities of dogs are better suited for different lifestyles.

What Breed of Dog Do You Want?

You can still consider particular breeds of dogs when adopting from a shelter. Many shelter dogs aren’t purebred, but shelter workers can often make very educated guesses at their lineage.

Let's say you've always wanted a Lab. It's a good bet you'll find an adorable Labrador-Rottweiler cross that will display the physical and temperamental characteristics of both breeds. Or maybe you’re looking for a "working" dog, but not in the market for a "hound" dog.

It’s a good idea to research the characteristics you want in a pet and which breeds may be a good match before you visit the shelters — and before you fall in love with a gorgeous sweetie that just isn't right for you.

Have You Budgeted for Dog Ownership? 

Are you prepared to pay for the care and upkeep of a dog? The ongoing financial commitment of dog ownership can really add up. Besides the cost of quality dog food and treats, there are toys, doggie beds and blankets; vet, training and grooming costs; medical emergencies and more. Be sure you can afford a dog — and all the expenses that come with them — before you bring home a new pet.

Is Your Location Suited for a Dog’s Exercise Needs? 

Whether you live in a house or pet-friendly apartment, or in the city, country or suburbs, it doesn't really matter how big or small your home is — as long as your dog gets plenty of exercise. 

Are you ready to give your new dog the daily exercise their particular breed needs to stay healthy and happy? Almost every book on dog breeds provides general exercise requirements. Many small breeds require more activity than large breeds.

Did you know dogs don't need a yard to thrive? In fact, they may get bored hanging out in the same backyard with the same smells every day. Opt for exercising a dog on walks (bonus points if you switch up the route) or at dog parks so your pet can meet new people and dogs while enjoying the excitement of a new environment. Areas designated for off-leash dogs give your pet the chance to romp around as much as they like, play with other dogs and fetch balls and toys. Remember, these parks are only for trained, socialized, friendly dogs.

The Benefits of Rescuing a Shelter Dog

Now that you have a better idea of what kind of dog is your perfect match, it’s time to head to a shelter to save a dog’s life.

No matter what shelter you go to, you'll find lots of dogs in need of a good home. With a shelter adoption, you're saving more than one life; you're making room for another dog in need, or allowing a different rescue dog to stay at the shelter for a longer period of time, giving them a better chance of being adopted, too.

Yet another rewarding aspect of shelter adoption is the special bond many owners develop with their rescued dog. Opening up your heart and home to a rescue usually results in an extremely strong relationship. That can mean a loyal, affectionate and attentive dog for life.

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