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Tips On Adopting A Dog

By Cuteness Team
published: November 2, 2017 - updated: November 20, 2019 • 3 min. read

Adopting a dog is a huge responsibility that will bring you great joy. Make sure you’re ready with these tips.

Know the difference: Shelters vs. Rescues vs. Humane Societies

Shelters are organizations that have a physical location and rescue animals within a community. Multiple city-sponsored shelters can and probably do exist in your city. Most shelters receive some government funding.

Rescue groups do not necessarily have a physical location (although sometimes they do). Usually, they are entirely volunteer-run and receive donations and/ or grants as funding. Volunteers will typically foster animals taken in by a rescue group.

Humane societies are organizations whose mission is to reduce animal suffering. The most well-known of these is the Human Society of the United States. While human societies may facilitate dog adoptions, their primary goal pertains to the general welfare of animals.

How to find a shelter or rescue

The internet is a great resource for finding a local shelter or rescue. Simply google “find dog rescues near me” to find an exhaustive list. You can also try Adopt-a-Pet or the ASPCA. If you prefer the real world to the digital world, local community-based centers like parks, police stations, or fire stations, may include flyers from different shelters or rescues.

Typical adoption cost(s)

While the cost of adopting a dog can vary widely, these tips can give you a rough idea of what to expect. City shelters typically have a standardized fee while rescue groups have fees that can vary by group or location. Be on the lookout for special deals at certain times of the year, like Adoptober in October. Don’t be afraid to ask about cost, as staff and volunteers are eager to help pets find their forever homes and will provide as much information as they can to do so.

Knowing the right dog for you

Often, people will create a list of criteria when searching for the right dog for them. To create such a list, think about your needs, your schedule, and what kind of home environment you have. If you have children, you’ll need a patient dog who has been around children before. If you want a running partner, you’ll need a dog with lots of energy. And so forth.

Questions to ask

What should you ask the staff or volunteers about your potential new dog? Ask everything and anything you want to know about the dog, from his or her history to his or her temperament. Here are some questions to consider, but it’s by no means exhaustive.

  • Do you know where he/ she was before this?
  • How would you describe the dog’s personality?
  • How old is the dog?
  • Does he/she get along with other dogs?
  • Does he/she get along with children?
  • Does he/ she require any other special care?
  • How much exercise per day would you recommend for this dog?
  • Does he/she get along with other pets (cats, etc)?
  • Does he/she have any medical issues I should know about?
  • What sort of training would you recommend for this dog?
  • Does this dog have any behaviors that should be corrected or trained out?

Consider behavioral issues

Rescue pups may have unique behavioral issues as a result of past events in their life. Purebred dogs from breeders can also have their own sets of problems, so don’t consider this a mark against rescue dogs. Just be aware of the possibility. Feel free to ask the staff or volunteers about the dog’s temperament or any undesirable behaviors. Some are fairly harmless and easily corrected (excessive barking, jumping, etc), while others are more serious and may require more training (fear of strangers, leash aggressions, etc).

Now go forth and adopt that dog. You’ll be happy you did, and your dog will be, too.

Want to learn more about your pup? Check out Help A Dog Adjust To A New Owner And Home, How Long Before A Dog Bonds With A New Owner, and How To Introduce Two Dogs To Each Other at!

This article is provided by Cuteness—the go to destination for passionate pet parents. Cuteness has answers to all of your health, training, and behavior questions – as well as the cutest, funniest, and most inspiring pet stories from all over the world.

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By Cuteness Team

Cuteness is the place for pet people. Whether you’re looking for adoption guides, in-fur-mation on your pet’s weird habits or showcases of pure pet cuteness, we’ve paw-sitively got it all. At Cuteness, we’re committed to working only with experts we’d trust with our own pets. We’ve done the legwork for you so you can focus your energy on loving and caring for your furry friends. We’re passionate about all things pet and fostering a community of pet lovers. Caring for pets isn’t always a walk in the park – but we’ve got you covered! Cuteness and Healthy Paws Pet Insurance had a content sharing agreement until 2021.

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