Adopting a dog can be one of the best decisions someone makes. Dogs are great companions, friends, and so much more. If you choose to adopt, not shop, here’s everything you should know on how to adopt a dog.
*I am not a dog expert. I am simply speaking to my experiences when adopting a dog and my fianceé’s experience of 8+ years in the vet industry.
- How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Dog from A Shelter
- Can You Adopt a Dog for Free?
- How Much Money Do You Need to Adopt a Dog?
- Other Things to Know Before You Get a Dog
- What Happens if a Dog Doesn’t Get Adopted?
- How Long Does it Take for an Adopted Dog to Adjust to a New Home?
- How Can I Help My Rescue Dog Adjust to a New Home?
- Is it Cruel to Crate a Dog at Night?
- Do Dogs Miss Their Previous Owners?
How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Dog from A Shelter
It could be immediate or take up to a few weeks. This all depends on how prepared the animal is to be adopted at that moment.
The shelter will usually need to do a home inspection to make sure it’s safe for the dog to live in. Depending on your schedule and the shelter’s, this could delay the time for you to bring home your new furbaby.
If the dog has not been vaccinated (which they typically are) or still needs to be spayed or neutered, then you may have to wait until that process is over and the dog is all healed up before you can bring them home.
There may be other factors that hold up the adoption, but those are the most common.
Can You Adopt a Dog for Free?
It is possible to adopt a dog at no cost from a shelter.
Many shelters offer free adoption days – some exclusive to people like veterans and military – other days, just because.
How Much Money Do You Need to Adopt a Dog?
This fee can range greatly, but the average I’ve seen when looking had been up to about $500 depending on the age, breed and health of the dog.
Our dog cost $250 to adopt (pic of her cute, wrinkly face for your pleasure below.)
Don’t forget that the adoption fee isn’t the only cost you need to account for. There’s also:
- Food (depending on dog size, about $60/month)
- Supplies (crate, water bowl, bed, etc.)
- Accidental Charges (furniture, rugs, etc. being destroyed)
- Vet fees
And don’t for get, your TIME! You need to walk them, make sure you’re home for them to eat breakfast and dinner and be let out to go to the bathroom.
In regards to vet fees, be sure not to blow that off as a “I just got them, I won’t have to worry about this for a while” scenario – because if you do that, you are setting yourself up for failure.
We had Barb (our sweet teenage doggy) for about 3 weeks at this point. Everything was going great (except for the fact that she was scared of me due to a meeting with a family member that didn’t go so well), and we had gone out for an appointment that would last a couple hours.
We’d left Barb home alone uncrated every time we left since we had her – she was GREAT! She would typically just sleep on the couch until we got back.
This time was different. . . we came home to this.
Luckily, she was ok and the damage was easy and fairly cheap to fix (remember what I said about preparing for accidental damage?).
Anyway, a couple days later, we noticed this swelling on her paw. We figured that she probably got a splinter when she decided to go all Kujo on our doorframe.
We took her to the vet the shelter had taken her to (big mistake – research your own, people) and they WAY overcharged us, causing us to pay about $500 in vet bills only a month after we had gotten her.
These are the types of things you need to be prepared for when you get a dog.
Other Things to Know Before You Get a Dog
Don’t keep bringing around the foster parents for the first month or so
We learned this the hard way. This can cause anxiety and confusion with your new family member. Give your new dog time to get used to you and their new home before bringing them back around.
As hard as it is, ignore your dog for a while
Don’t completely ignore them, but give them their own space. They need their own time to adjust and adapt and it’s hard for them to do that if they feel like every two seconds, they’re going to have someone touching them or being up in their space.
Personally, this made a HUGE difference for me when my dog became scared of me due to a family interaction (we think a woman was her abuser before she was rescued). I simply gave her her own space and let her come to me when she felt like it. It regained her trust in me and created a mutual respect.
Be mentally prepared that your dog won’t like you
There are going to be instances where your dog doesn’t like you. It happens – especially with an adoption.
You may make too loud of a noise and scare them, then they’re wary of you and that item/area for a week.
You may trigger a memory from a past abuser – you have to be patient as you re-train their mind that YOU are not THEM. I personally had to go through this, and let me tell you, it was ROUGH and emotionally draining, but totally worth it for the love and kisses I get now.
You will lose sleep
At least for the first month until you figure out your new sleeping arrangement. You may find that your dog snores, won’t stay in their bed, doesn’t like the crate, etc. It’s going to be trial and error until you get it right.
You might waste money on toys and food
Your dog is just like anyone else and has preferences when it comes to toys and food.
Imagine opening that beautifully wrapped gift on Christmas only to find out it’s acne gel from Grandma (yes that happened to me – yes, it was sweet looking at it as an adult – little 10 year old Brina didn’t appreciate the call-out to the traitors on my face). That’s how your dog feels when you give them a toy or food they don’t like.
It’s going to be a trial and error process, just like the dog bed (and everything else really), until you find out what they like.
What Happens if a Dog Doesn’t Get Adopted?
Depending on the shelter, they may be put down. Do research on your local shelters to find out what happens if a dog doesn’t get adopted. You may base your decision on which shelter you go to around that information.
How Long Does it Take for an Adopted Dog to Adjust to a New Home?
They say that it takes 3 days for a dog to realize this is their new home, about 3 weeks before they start opening up, and anywhere from 3-6 months before they start showing their true selves
You have to be really patient during this adjustment period and don’t take it personal if they’re sad, or standoffish, especially if they’ve been wonderful the first 3 days.
To them, they’re on vacation for the first 3 days, but then when they realize they aren’t going back to the home they knew, they have a reality check and may freak out a little bit – that’s ok.
Give them space, love and time and they’ll come back around.
How Can I Help My Rescue Dog Adjust to a New Home?
The best thing that you can do is give them space, love, and regularity.
If they can predict what’s going to happen, they are likely going to be less scared of what’s going to happen next, because they already know once they’re familiar with the routing.
- regular walks
- feeding them at the same time each day
- letting them out around the same times each day
- making sure they know that their crate or “safe space” is accessible if they need to go be alone for a while
- rewarding them when they go to the bathroom, eat all their food, and other successes.
Be aware for what triggers them if they are scared. You can help them adapt to those things so they aren’t scared anymore.
Our dog was scared of the vacuum, so we put it down (turned off) and let her smell it and get used to it. Once she realized it wasn’t going to hurt her, she was just fine.
Keep in mind that the adjustment period can last anywhere from 6 months and up, so be patient with your new family member.
Is it Cruel to Crate a Dog at Night?
It is not cruel to crate your dog at night.
We have a guest room that our dog’s crate is in (and we have a small camera in there to monitor her). To her, her crate is her safe space, so often throughout the day she will voluntarily go to her crate and sleep in there.
Feel out your dog and see how they are reacting to the crate. If they are not already crate trained, you’ll have to be patient during this process and help them know that you’re not mad at them and this is just a regular night-time routine.
Make them comfortable with it and eventually they will not see it as a bad thing.
Do Dogs Miss Their Previous Owners?
Just like humans, dogs miss people that they have grown to love over time. This may cause some sadness in them in the beginning, but they will grow to love you just as much and it will not be an issue.
Imagine an old friend that you may have just drifted apart from over time. You still miss them, right? That doesn’t make you love your current friends any less, right? That’s exactly how it is for them, too.
Just be patient with them during this adjustment period and let them know that you love them and are here for them.