Adopting a Dog? 5 Mistakes to Avoid

By adopting a dog, you might be saving a life — and you’re certainly enriching your own with love and companionship for years to come.

Because you’re making a long-term commitment, you’ll want to make sure you’re taking all the right steps before you bring home your new pal. We’re here to help, so we’ve created a list of five common mistakes people make when they decide to adopt a dog. That way, you can avoid these pitfalls and start off on the right foot with your new pet.

Dog Adoption Mistakes to Avoid

two dogs in shelter kennel


1. Jumping Into It

Dogs are hard to resist and getting one can be so exciting that some people make the mistake of diving headfirst into pet ownership when they’re not quite ready. You need to give serious thought to whether you’re in the right place in your life for a dog. As much as you want a furry friend, think about whether you can afford the products and food and veterinary care he’ll need and whether you have a lifestyle with the time to give him the exercise and attention he’ll require. If you decide this is something you’re ready for, check out our list of essentials to get before bringing him home.



2. Not Doing Your Research

Here’s your chance to look at lots of cute dogs online! Take our breed finder quiz to figure out what types of dogs would be the best fit for you and your family. You’ll want to think about whether there are allergies in your family (although you should keep in mind that there's really no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog), whether you want a big or small dog, what kinds of activities you want to do with your dog and what kind of personality you want your pooch to have. Then, search the Internet for adoptable dogs at local shelters and rescues. Look into each organization's requirements and application process before you go so you don’t risk losing out on a dog you fall in love with.

cute beagle puppy


3. Only Having Eyes for Puppies

Obviously, puppies are adorable. Who wouldn’t be tempted to bring home a sweet, playful little bundle of joy? But they’re also lots of work. It takes time to train them and socialize them — and you can expect some messes and chewed-up items along the way. So, don’t make the mistake of overlooking a senior dog in need of a home. These lovable dogs have a lot to offer. They’re typically trained already, and they’re usually more mellow than their younger counterparts.

Pug on dog bed


4. Assuming You Can’t Get a Purebred Dog

While there are many wonderful things about mutts, some people have a penchant for a specific breed — and they assume they can only get them from a breeder. But that’s not the case. If you want to adopt a purebred pooch, start with a breed-specific rescue. One advantage is that the rescue’s volunteers often know a lot about the breed and can help you determine if it is indeed right for you. Finding a purebred to rescue can take some time, but the volunteers will work with you to find a dog who’s a good fit for you. 

family meeting dog


5. Not Getting to Know Each Other

Hopefully your family and your new dog — including any pets you already have — are going to spend years together. So it helps if you can add a new family member who will get along with everyone. Ask the shelter staff and volunteers or the rescue group to tell you what they know about the dog’s personality and behaviors and try to arrange to spend time together outside of her kennel. You may even see if you can have a sleepover or foster the pup for a while to get to know each other in your home environment. If you have another dog at home, bring him with you for a meet-and-greet so you don’t have the heartbreak of discovering later that they don’t get along.

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