Charlotte and George (two mixed-breed dogs) are shown in this file photo.

From Shelter to Home: How I Prepared to Adopt My Dogs

Last updated on December 3rd, 2023 at 07:18 pm

Adopting a new dog is both an exciting and significant life event. How you prepare to adopt a dog can make a huge difference in your success. When I considered adopting a few years ago, I was absolutely giddy when I met the two dogs I had found online. I realized that this would be a big responsibility and I wanted to make sure we were a match.

Just as it was for me, a first-time dog owner may feel excited yet uncertain about how to prepare for this life-changing experience. Preparing for the arrival of your new pet involves assessing your readiness for a dog, selecting the ideal breed or personality type for your lifestyle and making necessary changes in your home for a smooth transition.

Before adopting a dog, consider if you are ready for the commitment, both emotionally and financially. Prepare your home for your new pet and have a plan for their care if you work or travel.

How to Adopt a Dog: Key Takeaways

  • Choose the right dog to fit your lifestyle
  • Evaluate your readiness and comittment to care for a dog long term
  • Prepare your home and establish a plan for your dog’s care if you work or travel
  • Be patient and supportive as you and your new pet adapt to life together

Preparing to Meet My Dogs Prior to Adoption–Was I Ready?

The back door to the lobby suddenly swung open and in bounded two very enthusiastic medium sized, but bigger-than-Beagles dogs who came charging through the door and began running all around the small waiting room. They snatched the treats from our outstretched hands nipping at our fingers as well. Tiffanie, the kennel owner who had rescued them, quickly demonstrated how to properly hold the snacks inside our hands to avoid getting our fingers gnawed off! 

I gulped. Were these to be my new furry friends? I had been preparing for the meeting with my new dogs for sometime, but I wasn’t sure I was ready for these two! I had spent weeks searching the internet looking for the perfect dogs, checking out different breeds and types that might work well with my life style.

I had raised Beagles in the past and wanted something similar in size and look–minus the howling! My hope was to find mellow pups who didn’t bark a lot. And, I really wanted dogs who were not big shedders, who stayed off the furniture, and were house broken. Ha! I later discovered that was a tall order!

How to Prepare to Adopt a Dog — Choosing the Right Dog

Working With Shelters and Rescues

When you decide to adopt a dog, it’s important to work closely with animal shelters and rescue groups. Begin by visiting your local shelter or contacting a nearby rescue group. These organizations are dedicated to finding permanent homes for animals in need and can provide guidance on finding the perfect match for your lifestyle. Many shelter dogs have been placed in foster homes to assess their behavior, needs, and temperament. This valuable information can help ensure you select a dog that will integrate well into your household.

It’s essential to communicate your needs, preferences, and concerns with shelter staff or rescue group volunteers. They can assist you in finding a suitable dog based on factors such as size, energy level, and compatibility with other pets or children in your home. While interacting with potential adoptees, keep an open mind and remember that many dogs may simply need time, love, and patience to reveal their true personalities.

As you search for dogs, you may find many pups you want to take home, so stick to your list of types of dogs that will fit your lifestyle best. Having said that, you may also fall in love with a pooch you did not expect to find. If you balance your heart with your sensibilities, you will most likely find your perfect match. Be sure to visit our Adopt Don’t Shop tab for much more information about finding and selecting shelters and rescue groups to work with.

Importance of Age and Size

When considering adopting a dog, it’s essential to find a good fit for both you and the animal. One important aspect to consider is the age and size of the dog. Different dog sizes and ages come with different energy levels and requirements.

  • Puppies: Puppies are adorable but require a lot of attention, training, and socialization. Remember that the cute little puppy will grow up and its adult size may impact your living arrangements.
  • Adult dogs: Adopting an adult dog is often a wise decision due to their established personalities and lesser training needs. They also tend to adapt quicker to a new home.
  • Older dogs: Senior dogs are often overlooked, but they can be a wonderful addition to a family. They usually have a calm demeanor, and they might already be trained.

As you consider which age and size is the best match, take into account the size of your living space and time you can dedicate to your new pet.

Assessing Personality and Health

It’s crucial to assess the personality and health of a potential pet before adoption.

  1. Energy level: Dogs have different energy levels. Some are very active and require ample exercise, while others may be more laid-back and content with a short daily walk. Make sure you are realistic about the time and energy you can devote to your pet’s exercise and playtime needs.
  2. Personality: Spend time interacting with the dog you are considering. Observe their behavior and how they interact with you and others. Consider your own lifestyle and preferences, and ensure the dog’s temperament complements it.
  3. Health issues: Be prepared to ask questions about the dog’s health history. Adult and older dogs are more prone to certain health issues. An understanding of potential health problems can help you better care for your dog and anticipate future needs.

Make sure you take the time to thoroughly research and interact with potential dogs can help you make an informed decision. Finding the perfect dog for your lifestyle will make the transition smoother for both you and your new furry friend.

Preparing to Adopt and Meeting New Dogs Was Like Being on a First Date!

The first thing I noticed when meeting my dogs was that they had a lot of energy! They bounded into the room and ran around barking and snarfing down treats like there was no tomorrow. Since I led a rather quiet life, I had to quickly assess how well we would all get along.

Preparing to adopt a dogs--watching two dogs running in a big field at K-9 Country Club and Spa.

What a combo! Each dog was about the same size, but they were as different as salt and pepper. Georgia had a black coat sprinkled with white fur and she looked a little like a large Pug. Charlotte was tan with white markings and she looked more like a small Cattle Dog. Both dogs had a little white tip on the end of their tails as if they had been dipped in a can of paint.

Ultimately, my practical side kicked in:

  • two dogs would be better than one;
  • they could keep each other company;
  • they had become very bonded as siblings and they should stay together;
  • I could lift these medium sized dogs off of the couch;
  • and, they were kind of like Beagles.

I took them both home for a 5 day trial which was extremely helpful with my decision making process. Ultimately, after some a few ups and downs, I fell in love with these pups and welcomed them into my home.

How to Prepare for the Cost and Comittment of Adopting a Dog

Bring home a dog is a lifetime comittment. A dog will live anywhere from 8 to 20 years depending upon their size, general health, and breed. Providing a home for your dog involves feeding, exercise, a warm safe place to rest and sleep. It also comes with a financial comittment.

Understanding Adoption Fees

When adopting a dog, it’s crucial to account for any associated adoption fees. These costs typically cover essential services such as vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and microchipping. Keep in mind that shelters and rescue groups often have limited resources and rely on these fees to continue their operations and help more animals in need. Adoption fees can vary depending on the organization, location, and the dog’s breed or age.

Here’s an example of what you might expect in terms of adoption fees and included services:

Fee CategoryRange (USD)Possible Services
Standard Adoption$100-250Vaccinations, spay/neuter, microchip
Senior Dog$50-150Vaccinations, spay/neuter, microchip
Puppy$250-500Vaccinations, spay/neuter, microchip

On-Going Annual Costs of Adopting a Dog

Remember that the costs of owning a dog go beyond the initial adoption fee. Be prepared for ongoing expenses such as food, regular vet visits, grooming, and any necessary training to ensure that your new furry friend leads a happy and healthy life.

Here is a summary of what my average costs were for the first three years:

Dog Food$ 850
Treats$ 160
Toys$ 120
Grooming (x 6 per year)$ 600
Vet Visits & Labs$ 260
Vaccinations$ 356
Pet Insurance$ 728
Heart Worm/Flea/Tick Medicine$ 804
Day Care x 4 per year$ 320
Boarding ( 14 days)$1,400
Dog Walking$ 118
Dental Cleaning$1,200
Total for Two Dogs$6,916
Annual Cost of Care for Two Dogs (Divided by 2 = $3,458)

Shopping for Supplies

Before your dog’s arrival, it’s essential to have some basic supplies ready. Here’s a list of items you should have in your home before your new furry friend arrives:

  • Food and water bowls: Choose sturdy and easy-to-clean food and water bowls for your dog’s meals.
  • Dog food: Stock up on the type of food your dog was eating at the shelter or consider transitioning them to a new, high-quality brand. A gradual change in diet is crucial to prevent digestive issues.
  • Leash and collar: Your new dog will need a leash and collar for walks and identification purposes.
  • Toys and treats: Keep your dog entertained and engaged with a variety of toys and treats. Puzzle toys and chew toys can be especially beneficial for mental stimulation.

As excited as I was, I was a little worried about how much dog food would cost in today’s economy for two dogs. I soon realized that the cost of dog food was the least of my worries! There were also vet bills, annual vaccinations, a whole array of dog toys, beds, halters, equipment to transport them in the car, and a lot of other stuff!

Preparation Before Arrival and Adoption of a Dog

Creating a Safe Space

Before you bring your new dog home, it is essential to create a safe and comfortable environment for them. Start by selecting a designated area in your home for your dog to call their own. This space should be easily accessible and away from high-traffic areas.

To establish boundaries and provide a sense of security, consider using a baby gate to separate the space from the rest of the house. Ensure that the area is free from any potential hazards or breakables that they might accidentally knock over.

Next, invest in a comfortable dog bed for them to rest in. This will give them a cozy and secure place to sleep and relax. Be sure to read my humorous post about letting my dogs sleep with me!

Getting Ready . . .

For the next few days, I did my best to dog-proof my yard. I covered a large french drain in the back with a smaller grate so they wouldn’t fall in. Next, I put up a short fence around my ancient rose bushes that had long wicked thorns. My fence had a couple of holes, so I plugged them, so they couldn’t escape.

The perimeter of my yard was a little sparse, so I put down more rocks and bark to discourage digging. And finally, I covered my barren, raised garden with cardboard, so they wouldn’t jump in and get all muddy.

I also placed a baby gate on my front porch so they would not run out the front door. And I eventually placed a trellis with a short gate in the back yard to prevent them from racing out the main backyard gate. It is not unusual for a shelter dog to try to escape initially. Moving into a new home is frightening and their instinct may be to try to escape. So, take extra precautions to keep your adopted dog safe until they feel more secure in your home.

Patience, Support, and Settling In

Establishing a Routine

When you bring your newly adopted dog home, it is essential to establish a new routine that fits both your lifestyle and your dog’s needs. Start by setting up regular feeding times, potty breaks, and exercise periods to help your dog adjust to their new environment. A consistent routine will make your dog feel more comfortable and secure.

Introducing your dog to new people and family members should be done gradually. Though you might be excited to show off your new pet, it’s important to remember that a slow introduction allows your dog to feel less overwhelmed and build positive associations with their new human friends.

Additionally, you should create a safe space for your dog within your home. This can be a separate room or a cozy corner where they can retreat when they need some alone time.

Training and Socializing

One of the most important aspects of helping your adopted dog adjust to their new home is dog training and socialization. Enroll your dog in a training class or work with a professional trainer to ensure they learn basic obedience commands and manners. Using positive reinforcement methods such as praise and treats will help build a strong, trusting bond between you and your dog. For more tips on training your adopted dog, check out iHeartDogs’ article.

Socialize your dog with regular walks, visits to dog parks, and playdates with other dogs to help them become well-adjusted and confident. It is crucial to monitor these interactions closely, especially in the beginning, to prevent any negative experiences. For much more information about adopting dogs please see our comprehensive post, Things to Know About Adopting a Rescue Dog.

Remember, every dog is unique, and adjustments may take time. Be patient and supportive, and your adopted dog will surely thrive in their new forever home.

The day my new dogs arrived . . .

Tiffanie was great! She brought them in her station wagon as promised. I opened the door to the garage and they came charging into the living room. Tiffanie took one look at my newly installed, off-white Berber carpet, gasped, and announced that we should start them out in the backyard.

So, we all rushed out to the back. Charlotte and Georgia took only 15 minutes to jump over the short fence I had just installed around the rose bushes. I was horrified! “They could poke out an eye!” I exclaimed. Tiffanie chuckled, and said that they would learn. Then they jumped on top of the garden, which I had thankfully covered with cardboard. And finally, both dogs headed over to the drain and stuck their noses into it as far as they could, which of course, was now barricaded with a small grate.

After they settled down, we brought them into the house. They sniffed all over to check out the place. Tiffanie warned me to keep them close and gave me a medium sized kennel to use when I was away. She also suggested that I keep them in the same room with me for a few days. Then she left.

I decided that Tiffanie was overly cautious, so I just let them run around. The dogs had been trained and house broken, and it wasn’t as if they were puppies.

However, I soon discovered a huge pool of pee on my off-white Berber carpet! Ugh! But this was probably due to their initial confusion and excitement. Then, twenty minutes later both dogs threw up in the living room! I had clearly given them too many treats. My bad!

At the End of the Day All Was Well

A little wiser now, I kept the dogs downstairs with me. Later that evening, I tucked them into their kennel for the night. (See my post for more about where dogs should sleep their first night.) Tomorrow would be another day. I couldn’t believe I had two new doggies in my home. They probably couldn’t believe it either. They looked so sweet when they were sleeping. Day One went pretty well all things considered!

Our first five days together required a lot of patience and understanding. They needed some time to adjust and get used to this new stranger who had brought them into her home. But they quickly recalled their earlier potty training and adjusted well within a few weeks. My home soon became their home!

A brown dog and a black dog lying head to head at an angle. All worn out!
All worn out!

(Note- Featured top photo of Georgia and Charlotte at Summer Camp by Sherry Clark; )

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