rescue dogs adoptionSo, you are thinking about adopting a dog. Adopting a dog can be very rewarding for you and the dog, if you are prepared and know what to expect. Rescue dogs adoption, are you prepared?

The first few days inside your home, your newly adopted dog will feel confused and unsure of why they are at your home. They will also be trying to figure out what you expect from them.

Planning to Adopt

If you are planning to adopt a dog, the first thing you need to do is have a meeting with everyone who lives in the home with you. Everyone needs to treat the dog the same, including the words you will use for training as to not confuse the dog.

Just imagine being with strangers in a new home and along with not knowing what to expect, everyone is saying different words to you making you very confused. Everyone needs to use the same words to help your dog understand and feel comfortable.

Visit a Shelter

Begin by visiting the websites of local shelters in your area, if possible. At most shelter websites you will be able to see the dogs available for adoption and read a little about each of them. You can also see the application and requirements.

Most shelters will require an application first. If you rent your home or apartment, you will need to bring your lease to verify that you are allowed to have a dog, and any restrictions your landlord may have.


Think about what traits you would like in a dog. If you are a runner and want your dog to run with you, look for a high energy dog. Maybe you want a companion dog that is affectionate or playful.

When you visit a shelter, tell the staff what you are looking for in a dog and what experience you have had with dogs. The staff knows each of the dogs and can help you decide which dog would be best for you.

Choosing a Dog

beagle puppyShelters that have approved your application will allow you to spend some time with the dogs that will fit your lifestyle. Spending one-on-one time with a dog can help you make a decision as you will see their personality come through.

Once you have found a dog that you want to visit with, make an appointment with the shelter for the whole family to come along and spend time with the dog, including any pets that are in the home.

If you want to adopt a purebred dog, there are many purebred rescues that have dogs available for adoption. With a little research, I’m sure you will find one near you.

Dog Proofing

To keep your dog safe, and your possessions, you can dog proof your home. You can use baby gates, covers for electrical outlets, and safety locks for cabinet doors.

Tips for Dog Proofing

  • Keep medications out of reach of your dog at all times
  • Inside and outside, move plants out of reach and remove those that can be harmful
  • Get a trashcan your dog can’t get open or keep it out of reach
  • Keep doors closed to keep your dog out of a room
  • Use electrical cord covers to protect your dog
  • Cleaning products need to be out of your dog’s reach
  • Put your possessions away and out of reach
  • If you have a fence, check for holes or spaces where your dog could escape


Ask the shelter what time your dog has been eating and what food they have been eating. Keep your dog on the same food and feeding schedule until they have had time to adjust to their new home.

If you and your veterinarian decide to change your dog’s food, you will need to change the food slowly, over a week. Start with 75% old food and 25% new food.

By mid week, you will be offering your dog, 50% old food along with 50% new food. Continue the transition until you reach 100% new food.

Ride Home

On the way home, you will need to secure your dog in your car to keep them safe. I use a travel harness for my dog. My dog, Freckles, always wears her travel harness in the car. She knows that we can’t leave until she has her harness on.

You can use a crate to contain your dog in your car. Be sure to buy the proper size and get one that has been crash-tested to keep your dog safe.

Turn off your power windows if you have them. Your dog may accidentally step on the button and open or close the window causing injuries to themselves.

Yard First, Then House

dog in grassWhen you get home with your dog, allow your dog to explore your yard and relieve themselves. Give your dog praise when they relieve themselves outside to show them that it pleases you.

After some time exploring outside, take your dog inside to explore their new home. Show them where their food and water bowls are, along with a bed and/or a crate, and some toys to play with.

Transition Time

During the first few days at your home, your dog will explore it’s new surroundings. Keep the environment calm for your dog while they are trying to figure out why they are there.

Take your dog outside often during this time to help prevent accidents from occurring inside. Don’t forget to praise your dog when they relieve themselves outside.

Meeting New People

Allow your dog time to adjust before introducing strangers to your dog. When your dog is comfortable in your home and with your family, you can introduce a stranger to them. Keep it low key with only one stranger at a time.

Slowly introduce your dog to people and other animals while they are in a calm state. If your dog is not happy or becomes upset with the meeting, remove them from the situation and try again later.

Choosing a dog is a very important decision for you and the dog. Adoption is a lifetime commitment. Dogs who are returned to shelters become more and more confused as to why they are back at the shelter.

Adopting a dog can be a very rewarding experience for you and the dog. If you are ready to adopt a dog, remember to prepare to make the transition as easy as possible for your furry family member.

Leave a comment or share a story about your dog. The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian, dog trainer, or dog behavioral specialist.