Adopting A Dog

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are about 70 million pet dogs in the U.S. today. Today, more than ever before, when someone thinks of getting a pet dog they think about getting that dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. It’s estimated that between 20 and 25 percent of dogs in homes come from shelters and rescues.

Reasons to adopt

There are many reasons to adopt a dog such as the following:

  • There is a good selection of dogs
  • You are probably saving a dog’s life
  • Prices are usually reasonable
  • You can feel good about yourself
  • Lots of people like mixed breed dogs

Things to consider before adopting a dog

There are some things to consider before adopting a dog – or before getting any dog.

  • Is this a good time for you to get a dog?

It’s easy to love a dog but that doesn’t mean you should own one. Owning a dog takes a lot of responsibility. It also takes a commitment in terms of time and finances. For example, if you’re heading to college in the fall and you will be leaving your new dog at home for your parents to care for, this probably isn’t the right time for you to get a dog. If you are starting a new job and you know you will be working long hours for the next year or so, this probably isn’t the best time for you to get a dog. Before getting any dog you should ask yourself if you can afford his food and vet care, as well.

  • Do you have kids?

If you have kids it’s often a good idea to zero in on a specific breed that is known for being good with children. A dog’s good temperament is extremely important, especially if he will be around children. Another factor to consider if you have children is the dog’s size. In most cases a large dog is preferable to a small dog. Large dogs are less likely to be injured if a child tugs on the dog or falls on him. A small dog can be seriously hurt if a child pulls on him or falls on him. Some of the best dogs for families with kids are Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Newfoundlands, and similar dogs. If you would like to adopt one of these dogs, try contacting a rescue group that specializes in one of these breeds. Make sure you tell them that you are looking for a dog that is good with children.

  • Do you have allergies?

People who have allergies often have problems when it comes to adopting a dog due to the dander found on dogs. There are some breeds which are often good for people with allergies but they can be hard to find in shelters. If you are allergic to dogs and you would still like to adopt one, try contacting a rescue group that specializes in one of the breeds recommended for people with allergies such as Poodles, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, Schnauzers, the Bichon Frise, the Chinese Crested, the Portuguese Water Dog, the Bedlington Terrier, the Maltese, and others.

  • Consider your lifestyle

Before getting a dog you should consider what kind of dog would be right for you. Do you want an active dog who can go hiking with you? Do you want a dog who will curl up and keep you company at home while you read and watch TV? Do you prefer a bouncy, active dog or a quiet, gentle dog? Do you like a big dog or a small one? Male or female? Do you like a long coat or a short one that’s easy to groom? Think about all these things before heading to the shelter.

How to adopt a dog

If you decide that it’s a good time for you to bring a dog into your life and you have considered the kind of dog you need for your lifestyle, then you can find a dog in several ways. Most towns have an animal shelter and larger cities usually have several shelters. You may be able to check online to see what their hours of operation are. Some shelters also post photos of some of the dogs they have available for adoption.

If you like a particular breed or mix you can also contact a rescue group for that breed to see if they have dogs available. Be aware that some rescue groups can be hard to work with, however. They often have harder requirements for adopting a dog than your local shelter. Dogs usually cost more to adopt from rescues, too.

Finally, you can visit a site such as which lists thousands of shelters and their dogs across North America. Some of these groups (but not all) will only adopt locally but you can find a greater selection of dogs, especially if you are interested in a particular breed or mix.