Adoption & Fostering

How to Adopt a Dog 101: Everything You Need to Know 

medium shot girl with cute dog bench

Are you constantly swooning over the adorable faces on #adoptabledogsofinstagram and #rescuedogsofinstagram? Do you find yourself daydreaming about cozy evenings snuggled up with a furry companion and secretly planning out the perfect dog-friendly yard? It sounds like you might be ready to take the leap into pet parenthood and become a forever family for a lucky pup.

You’ve probably already done some initial research and feel prepared to welcome a wagging tail into your life. But before you dive headfirst into the wonderful world of dog adoption, let’s go over some key things to consider, essential preparations to make, and helpful tips for finding your ideal canine match.

Let’s dive in!

What is a Rescue Dog?

First things first, let’s define what we mean by a “rescue dog.” Simply put, a rescue dog is a dog you adopt from the shelter or rescue organization instead of directly purchasing from a pet store or breeder. When you adopt, you’re not only saving money (adoption fees are much lower than the cost of buying a dog), but you’re also potentially saving a life and helping to reduce dog overpopulation.

rescue dog

Rescue dogs typically come from all sorts of backgrounds. Some may have had a rough start in life, while others could be purebred pups whose families couldn’t keep them for various reasons. Shelters also often have puppies available for adoption. The beauty of rescuing is that you can find dogs of all ages, breeds, and personalities – there’s a perfect match out there for everyone!

You can’t help everyone, but you can help at least one dog!

Every Dog Matters

Are You Ready to Adopt?

Before you start browsing those adorable adoption profiles, it’s crucial to make sure you’re truly ready to take on the responsibility of a dog. Ask yourself these key questions:

close up woman cute dog

1. Do I have enough time to dedicate to a dog? Dogs require daily exercise, training, playtime, and attention. Make sure your schedule allows for plenty of quality time with your new companion.

2. Can I afford a dog? Beyond the initial adoption fee, dogs have ongoing expenses like food, toys, medical care, grooming, and potentially training or pet-sitting services. Make sure you’re financially prepared.

3. Do I have adequate space for a dog? Different breeds and sizes of dogs have different space requirements. Be honest about what your living situation can accommodate.

If you can confidently answer to all these questions with a “yes”, congratulations—you’re ready to start your adoption journey!


Where to Adopt a Dog

There are a few main options when it comes to where to adopt a dog: local shelters, rescue groups, or even from a friend who can no longer care for their dog.

side view rescue dog loving affection receives from woman shelter

Shelter vs. Rescue

While sometimes used interchangeably, there are some key differences between shelters and rescue groups to be aware of.

Shelters are usually run and funded by local governments. They typically have a physical location that houses the adoptable dogs. In most cases, you can meet a dog and take them home the same day if it’s a good match.

Rescues, on the other hand, are usually volunteer-run and donation-based. They may not have a central facility and instead depend on a network of foster homes to care for their dogs until they’re adopted. The adoption process with a rescue can take longer, sometimes a few weeks, as they want to ensure each dog ends up in the best possible home.

Both shelters and rescues are wonderful options for finding your new best friend – it just depends on your personal preferences.

loobani giving back
Tired Dog Rescue X Loobani

Fostering vs. Adopting

If you’re not quite ready to commit to adoption, fostering a dog can be a great option. When you foster, you provide a temporary home for a dog who isn’t quite ready for adoption. This could be because the dog is too young, recovering from an illness or injury, or needs some extra socialization or training.

woman holding adopt me sign rescue dog

So, what’s the difference between adopting and fostering? When you adopt a dog, you’re committing to being their forever family. You’re taking on the responsibility of caring for that dog for the rest of their life. Fostering, on the other hand, is a temporary arrangement. You’re agreeing to care for a dog for a set period of time, usually until they’re ready to be adopted by their forever family.

RELATED: Adopting a Puppy, Adult, or Senior Dog: Pros and Cons

Fostering is a fantastic way to make a difference in a dog’s life while getting a taste of what dog ownership is like. It’s like a trial run for being a dog parent! You get to experience the joys (and sometimes the challenges) of having a dog in your home, but without the long-term commitment.

adorable chihuahua dog with female owner

If you’re interested in becoming a foster pawrent, here’s what the process typically looks like:

  1. Fill out an application: Rescue groups want to ensure their foster dogs are going to safe, loving homes. You’ll fill out an application with information about your home, lifestyle, and experience with dogs.
  2. Meet your potential foster dog: If your application is approved, you’ll get to meet the dog the rescue has in mind for you. This is a chance for you both to see if it’s a good match.
  3. Prepare for your foster’s arrival: If it’s a match made in doggy heaven, you’ll get your home ready for your foster’s arrival. The rescue will provide you with supplies and information about your foster’s needs.
  4. Help your foster adjust: Once your foster dog arrives, your main job is to help them feel safe and loved. You’ll provide them with food, shelter, and plenty of TLC as they adjust to life in a home.
  5. Work on training: Many foster dogs need some basic training. You’ll work with your foster to teach them things like house training, leash walking, and basic obedience. The rescue will provide guidance and support.
  6. Help your foster find their forever home: When your foster dog is ready, you’ll help them find their perfect forever family. This might involve bringing them to adoption events, sharing their story on social media, or even talking to potential adopters.
play with dog

The best part? Many fosters eventually adopt their foster dog themselves – known affectionately as a “foster fail!” But even if you don’t end up being your foster’s forever family, you’ve played an invaluable role in preparing them for life in their forever home.

Fostering is a wonderful way to help a dog in need while also seeing if dog ownership is right for you. It’s a rewarding experience that can lead to a lifelong love of rescue. And who knows – you might just meet your own perfect match along the way!

Every purchase, every donation, makes a difference in the life of a rescue dog.
Choose Loobani and become part of the solution.
Together, we can help more dogs find their way to loving, forever homes.

Giving Back at Loobani Pet

How Much does it Cost to Adopt a Dog?

One of the many benefits of adopting a dog versus buying one is the lower upfront cost. Adoption fees can vary widely from $0 to around $750 but usually fall on the lower end of that spectrum.

woman playing with rescue dogs shelter

The exact adoption fee varies based on factors like location, the dog’s breed and age, and the individual rescue or shelter’s policies. But here’s the great news – that adoption fee usually covers a lot of initial veterinary expenses, such as:

– General wellness exam

– Core vaccinations (like rabies, distemper, and parvovirus)

– Heartworm testing and prevention

– Flea and tick prevention 

– Fecal test and deworming

– Spay/neuter surgery

– Microchipping

When you consider all that’s included, adopting a dog is quite a bargain compared to the costs of buying a dog and handling all those initial medical needs yourself.

a veterinarian vaccinating a dog

Finding Your Perfect Match

One of the most exciting parts of the adoption process is finding the dog who is the ideal fit for you and your lifestyle. And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t find what you’re looking for at a shelter or rescue – even purebreds and puppies are available for adoption!

You might be surprised to learn that adopting a purebred dog from a shelter or rescue is not only possible but actually quite common! Shelters are full of dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes – including purebreds and puppies.

train the dog

There are a few reasons why you might find your perfect purebred at a shelter. Sometimes, purebred dogs end up in shelters due to owner surrenders – life circumstances change, and even the most loved dogs can find themselves in need of a new home. Shelters also often take in pregnant dogs, so there’s a chance those adorable puppies could be purebreds. And in some sad cases, purebred dogs are rescued from irresponsible breeders or puppy mills and end up in shelters or breed-specific rescues.

Speaking of breed-specific rescues, if you have your heart set on a particular breed, you can likely find a rescue group dedicated to that breed. A simple Bing / Google search can help you find one near you.

For example:

dogs three pets

The point is, whatever breed you’re interested in, there’s probably a rescue out there specializing in saving those dogs. And even if there isn’t a breed-specific rescue near you, don’t discount your local shelters. You never know when your dream dog will be waiting there for you!

When visiting a potential adoptee, come prepared with a list of questions. Some key things to ask about are:

  • The dog’s background – how did they end up in the rescue or shelter?
  • Their approximate age
  • Medical history and needs – are they spayed/neutered? Up to date on shots? Any known health issues or special dietary needs?
  • Personality and temperament – are they good with kids? Other dogs? Cats? What’s their energy level like?
  • Training – are they housetrained? Know any basic commands?

Answering all these questions can help you determine if a particular dog is a good match.

two people holding short coated tan dog

Other Considerations 

Beyond breed and personality, here are a few other key factors to keep in mind during your dog search:

Age: Puppies are adorable, but they’re also a lot of work! They require tons of training, socialization, and supervision. You might have to deal with house training accidents, chewing, and endless energy. If you work long hours or have a busy lifestyle, an adult or senior dog who’s already mastered the basics could be a better fit.

female caring poodle

Size: Size definitely matters when choosing a dog, especially if you live in a smaller space like an apartment. A large, high-energy dog in a small space is a recipe for trouble. Be realistic about what size dog your home and lifestyle can accommodate.

Special Needs: Some rescue dogs may have special medical or behavioral needs, like a chronic health condition or a history of fear or anxiety. Caring for these dogs can be extra rewarding, but make sure you have the time, resources, and commitment to provide them with the care they need.

dogs puppies to play

How to Prepare Your Home?

Once you’ve found your match made in doggy heaven, it’s time to get your home ready for your new arrival.

Stock up on supplies: You’ll need essentials like food your dog is already eating, food and water bowls, a comfy bed, a crate, an assortment of toys (Chew toys, dog puzzle toys….), a collar and leash, and grooming tools. Don’t forget waste bags for walks!


Dog-proof your space: View your home from a dog’s perspective. Tuck away loose cables, pick up small objects a curious pup could swallow, and make sure any potentially toxic plants or foods are out of reach. 

Set up a routine: Dogs thrive on routine. Decide on a schedule for meals, walks, playtime, and training. Consistency will help your new dog settle in.

Find a good vet: If you don’t already have one, research vets in your area. Read reviews, ask for recommendations, and schedule an introductory visit to establish care for your new family member.

vet checkups

How to Welcome Your Adopted Dog Home

The big day is here – time to bring your new best friend home! Here are some tips to make the transition as smooth as possible:

a dog in pet carrier

Go slow: Everything is new and potentially overwhelming for your dog. Give them time and space to adjust. Keep things calm and quiet those first few days.

Start training right away: Even if your dog has some training already, you’ll want to reinforce basic commands and house rules right from the start. Short, positive training sessions will help you bond and establish good habits.

cute dog making mess

Be patient: Your new dog may need time to reveal their full personality as they get comfortable. They may have accidents, bark excessively, or show other unwanted behaviors at first. Stay patient, keep training, and give them time. With love and consistency, most adoption transition issues can be overcome.

woman holding paw of dog 1

Final Words

Adopting a dog is a life-changing experience—both for you and your new canine companion. It’s a big decision and a serious commitment, but one that comes with endless rewards. When you adopt, you’re not just welcoming a new best friend; you’re also making a life-saving difference and contributing to the solution for homeless pets.

pet owner holding dog s head

Doing your research, being honest about what you can handle, and asking lots of questions will help you find the right dog for you. And with patience, love, and consistency, you’ll form an unbreakable bond with your new family member.

Adopting a dog isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. So go ahead – browse those adoption listings, visit your local shelter, and get ready to meet your new best friend. Your perfect match is out there waiting for you.


About Helen K. White

As someone who deeply believes in the power of adoption and fostering, I've seen firsthand how it can change lives—for both animals and humans alike. Through heartwarming stories and practical tips, I'm here to share insights, advice, and resources to support you every step of the way. With years of experience volunteering at shelters, fostering countless furry pals, and helping families find their perfect pet match, I bring a wealth of knowledge and passion to the table. Whether you're thinking about adoption, navigating the foster journey, or just looking for heartwarming tales to brighten your day, I've got you covered.