About 3.4 million dogs a year find themselves in shelters and of those, only about half will ever find their forever homes. The rest of these dogs never get the chance to prove what wonderful family members they could be.
That’s why, at PEDIGREE Foundation, we hope that if you are considering bringing a furry friend into your family you will choose to consider adopting a dog in need. Here are some tips to help you through the process of adopting a new best friend:
1. Make sure you are ready for the lifetime commitment that comes with adding a furry member to your family.
Many dogs that end up in shelters are there because their families could no longer care for them. Returning a dog to a shelter is a devastating experience for them and many dogs who are surrendered will spend the rest of their lives in a shelter. This is why it’s important to understand the commitment you are making before you add a dog to your family. When you adopt a dog, you are promising to keep and love them for the rest of their life. They will certainly do the same for you!
2. Do your research! Whether you prefer a mixed breed or a pure bred, researching different breeds and rescues can help you find the dog that is perfect for you.
While breed does not define a dog’s entire personality, it does play a role that is important to understand! Researching which breeds have the energy level, temperament, trainability, and other traits that best fit your lifestyle can be extremely helpful when deciding what dog is right for you. It is also important to find out whether there are breed or size restrictions where you live. In addition to researching breeds, you should also learn about the rescues and shelters in your area to decide which one best suits your adoption needs. Every rescue organization is different and they each have their own unique qualities that might stand out to you. For instance, some rescues have foster-based networks to care for their dogs while others have on-site shelters to house them while they wait to find their forever homes. There are even age-specific rescues so if you have decided what aged dog is right for you, whether it be a puppy or a senior, you know exactly where to find them! Doing your research ensures that you find the pooch that is perfect for you!
3. Don’t think adoption isn’t for you if you have your heart set on a breed!
Many people mistakenly believe that adoption is only an option for people who are looking for mixed-breed dogs. While mixed breeds make for great pets and offer the best of many breeds, if you have your heart set on a certain one, there are still plenty of options for you! There are breed specific rescues across the country for almost any kind of dog you can imagine. Purebred pups also find themselves in shelters alongside their mixed breed friends so it’s important to check your local shelters. No matter what kind of dog you prefer, a rescue or shelter nearby is sure to have the perfect furry friend for you so do your research!
4. Consider what level of exercise and activity you are up for and make sure your new best friend will be on the same page!
Are you looking for a running partner, a couch potato, or somewhere in between? The answer to this question should be based on what category you yourself fall into. You and your new companion need to have similar energy levels in order for you both to be happy. If you live a highly active lifestyle, you might want a high-energy pal who will be your adventure partner. If you prefer a laid-back lifestyle, you might need a calmer dog who will be your lounging buddy. You should also take into consideration the amount of mental stimulation your dog will need. Dogs of high intelligence can become destructive if they are not given outlets that allow them to show off their smarts. Make sure that you will be able to keep your new fur friend’s body and brain well-exercised!
5. Understand the time commitment of bringing a fur baby into your family.
Life will change when you adopt a dog. Life will be so much better with your new best friend in it, but you will also need to make some changes to your daily schedule. You will need to take time out of every day to feed, walk, play, and care for them. You will also have to consider them when leaving for work, taking vacations, or making other social plans, just as you would with any other member of your household. Your dog’s entire day will revolve around you so make sure that you are able to take enough time out of yours to give them the love and attention they deserve. Also keep in mind that these time commitments will be much greater if you adopt a puppy rather than an adult dog. Luckily, in exchange for the time commitment that comes with pet ownership, you will get endless hours of love from your new best friend!
6. Don’t overlook the senior dogs and all of their great qualities!
While puppies are undeniably adorable, they also require a great deal of time, training, and patience. So many senior dogs find themselves living out their golden years in a shelter instead of in a loving home they deserve. Senior dogs typically require much less time commitment, activity, and training than younger dogs. They are usually happy with the simple things in life like cuddling up next to their person. While they do tend to face more health issues simply due their age, the experience of giving a senior dog a loving home for their remaining years is an invaluable experience for both you and them. So when you’re considering adoption, don’t forget about the senior dog that would love to be your mature, easy-going best friend.
7. If you have other pets or little ones in your family, make sure your new addition is one that will be welcomed by them.
If you have other members in your household make sure you’re aware of how they will handle the addition of a new dog. Not all children and pets will pair well with just any fur sibling. Make sure you take into consideration the age and temperament of your pets and children when making your decision on which dog is right for your family. Also be sure to properly introduce your new fur friend to their siblings and to educate any little ones on how to appropriately interact with them so that they can become best friends too! Successful introductions should take place in a neutral and calm space. Be sure to make it a positive experience for all, with lots of praise and treats, so that everyone knows this is a happy addition and there is still plenty of love to go around.
8. Be aware of the cost of pet ownership and how it may vary.
There is no denying that caring for your furry friend can be expensive. By adding a dog to your family you are automatically taking on new costs that you did not have before like food, toys, treats, medical care, and so on. These costs can also vary depending on which dog you adopt because some breeds will require higher levels of grooming and other care. It is helpful to take into account the costs that might be specific to your furry friend when making sure you are able to financially support them. You will likely find, however, that having a furry best friend in your life is well worth the cost, especially when you’re being repaid in canine kisses!
9. Build a support system for you and your new best friend!
At some point you will likely need help caring for your fur baby so it’s helpful to consider a few things before you bring them home. Who do you know that you trust to keep or care for your dog when you’re away? Leaving your best friend will be hard enough so you need to make sure you have someone to take care of them that you are both comfortable with like a friend, family member, or pet sitter. Do you know people with dogs that yours can socialize with? It is very important for your dog to have other furry friends so that they remain friendly and well-socialized. It will also be helpful for you to have access to some experienced pet parents who can give you tips and advice when you need it. For these and many other reasons it is helpful to develop a support system for you and your canine companion so that you have help when you need it!
10. Once you’ve adopted your new best friend, give yourselves time to adjust to each other and your new life together!
Bringing home a new dog can be slightly overwhelming at first for both of you. You have so much to learn about each other and how your life will be together. Your home will be an entirely new world to your dog so it’s important to be patient and encouraging while they figure it all out. Prepare yourself for some hiccups along the way and remember that they are trying their best to make you happy with them. By figuring everything out together, you and your dog will build a strong bond. Although this adjustment can take some time, it is well worth the wait because it will lead to an unconditional love between you and your new best friend!
Bonus! If you are considering adoption but you’re unsure if you’re prepared for the full commitment of pet ownership, consider fostering first! Living in a foster home is an excellent alternative to shelter life for homeless dogs. Fostering provides tremendous insights about a dog for future adopters and teaches them how to be part of a family, which gives them a much higher chance of finding their forever home. Not only can it be a rewarding experience for both you and your foster baby, but it will also show you whether you are up for the challenge of pet ownership!