Black rescue dog out for a walk when adopted

When Is the Best Time to Adopt a Rescue Dog?

Are you thinking about adopting a new rescue dog but are not sure if this is the best time? A lot of factors can come into play especially regarding your ability to provide long-term care for a new furry family member.

But if you are thinking about it from the dog’s perspective, such as best time of year or how long a dog has been in a shelter, think no more! Any time is the best time to adopt a rescue dog! It doesn’t matter if it is winter or summer. Don’t worry that it is a holiday and a little hectic. Or maybe it is the rainy season and you fear he may be bored. A dog in a shelter will be thrilled to go home with you! He will happily trade his cot in a caged facility for a warm bed in your home. Trust me!

There may never be a “perfect” time for you to adopt a dog. But if you have done your homework and think you are ready, keep reading to help confirm your decision to adopt now.

Practical Considerations

If you are serious about adopting a dog, then I assume you have considered most of the key factors and responsibilities. Pets cost money and take time to raise, just like kids, plants, or any other living thing. For more information about caring for your new furry friend see my post, Everything You Need to Know About Adopting a Rescue Dogs.

Cost of Owning A Pet

When I first considered adopting two dogs, I was primarily concerned about the monthly cost of dog food. I was semi-retired and had not owned a dog for several years. I figured costs had probably gone up, and I was right!

Ironically, I discovered that dog food was the least of my worries! On average I spend about $3,458 per dog per year for food, vet bills, boarding, grooming, treats, replacement toys and equipment. You can see the cost chart I created at my post, Should a Senior Adopt a Rescue Dog.

Since I decided to adopt two 6-year-old siblings, everything was double the cost. So, I ended up spending about $7,000 per year for ongoing costs. This was following my initial outlay of several hundred dollars for beds, bowls, leashes, collars, toys, and treats. I went through an array of chewie toys, balls, stuffed animals until I found their favorites. See my recommendations page for safe, durable, toys that my dogs actually like!

But the biggest cost was preparing my car. I wrote in a post, Your Dog’s First Car–Make it Calm, Safe, and Fun, how to prepare your dog for a ride. But, for me the biggest ordeal was preparing my car! I bought a special heavy duty after market metal grate for the cargo area. My neighbor helped me install it and we got it to fit like a glove. No rattles, and very snug and effective. But we forgot to close one of the side doors. The next morning I got up early to go to church and quickly backed out of my garage! Crunch! I hit the brakes, got out to see what I had hit, and discovered the damage to my side door. This cost me about $1,000 in deductibles despite having great insurance. Ugh!

But I digress. That cost was due to my negligence and not a normal cost of owning dogs. However, unexpected things do come up. So, it is best to be prepared.

Vet Visits and Medical Support

You may want to find a vet in advance, so you will be ready to take your new pooch in for a wellness appointment as soon as you. Check with your friends, neighbors, or online reviews to get some recommendations.

You will want to make sure that your new pup is up to date on all his vaccinations, and determine if he has any potential health issues. I also strongly urge you to get pet insurance. Even though your dog is healthy, accidents and chronic illness can impact any dog at any age.

Long-Term Commitment

During the Covido-19 pandemic, a lot of shelters reported that they were becoming empty due to the influx of adoptions. People were working at home, had more time on their hads, and wanted a furry companion to walk with and care for. This was a phenomon that happened across the country in 2020 and 2021.

But some shelters began to get a little more picky about who they would adopt to due to long-term commitments concerns. What would happen when owners went back to work? Were these impulsive decisions that would end in the dog being returned. NPR News has a great article about this which you can read here.

A clergy friend of mine in the San Francisco Bay Area who adopted a sweet dog in 2020, said that she was placed on a waitlist to adopt. She had to complete an interview regarding why she wanted a dog. She eventually adopted a very lovable, but timid German Shepard who had a rough past. My clergy friend is very gentle and kind, and her new furry boy loves his new home!

Pet Appropriate Housing

Of course, having a dog friendly home is a must! Ideally, your home will be large enough for you, your family, and your new pooch with access to outdoors. If you are willing to walk your dog 2-3 times a day, you don’t necessarily need a yard. Just make sure you have plenty of places to walk to including local parks. Also, make sure if you rent that your landlord allows pets.

When to Start Visiting Shelters

If you have considered all of the above and want to adopt a rescue dog, then I suggest that now is a great time to start searching!

Go ahead and start checking out local shelters. Look up their online ratings or get recommendations from others who have adopted. Then select one or two shelters and go visit or check their website. You may need to fill out some questionnaires. Be patient as you may not find a dog right away that fits your lifestyle. However, you may also be surprised at who you fall in love with!

Just be prepared when you actually do find the right dog! Be ready to move forward with the process. If you start having any second thoughts, you can check out my post, How to Know if Adopting a Rescue Dog is Right for You? to help confirm your decision.

When I decided I was ready to adopt, I began by looking at photos posted by a local shelter. Most of the dogs were smaller or larger than I wanted. And, I wanted two dogs, preferably siblings, as I had raised two littermates many years ago.

After a few nights searching their website, I was disappointed and assumed this would be a long process. However, I discovered that their website also had a foster associate’s link. After scrolling through the pages for several minutes, I found my two dogs! There they were in a cute photo—two medium-sized dogs who were sisters, very bonded, and in need of a new home. I was a little tentative, but I called the number thinking I would not hear back right away and I could think about it But to my surprise, the foster kennel owner called me back within minutes. I gulped and scheduled an appointment to meet them.

Black and tan rescue dogs settled in on an easy chair.
Georgia and Charlotte enjoying “our” easy chair

Long story short, after a brief trial period, they came to live with me. Now, three years later, we are one small, happy family! You can read more on our About Us page.

Best Time to Pick Up and Bring Your New Rescue Dog Home

Some articles and posts have discouraged people from adopting during the holidays. They maintain that holidays are too hectic and not a good time to focus on introducing a new dog into the mix But holidays do not have to be chaotic and as long as you are prepared, they can be a perfect time to adopt a rescue dog.

Keep in mind that in a high kill shelter, a dog may not be there in January if he was brought in during November or December. Rainy days and snow come each year and do not need to interfere with your adoption process either. If you are ready, your new dog will be ready!

Just make sure you have dog-proofed your home and yard, to provide protection for your home and safety for your dog. If you find a dog but need a few days to get ready, do all of the paperwork and then go back to pick up your dog. You can also do a trial run at home for a few days, just to make sure this will work for both of you.

If the dog you select has had a really challenging past, he may need some time to get used to you. So, you may need to visit a few times, bring him treats, sit with him or go for walks. When he begins to trust you you can bring him home, and the shelter staff will be happy to work with you on this.

But most dogs are eager to leave and will soak up the attention they get from you. Not only will you have a new best friend, but you will save a dog and open up a spot for another dog in need of shelter!

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