Tips to adopt a dog

Adopting a dog is the dream of many animal lovers, big and small. However, you should never forget that it comes with a lot of responsibility and that it is a long-term commitment.

Not surprisingly, this article will present you with the essential points to consider before you decide to bring a little fur ball into your life. Indeed, the abandonment of animals is still extremely numerous.

A dramatic situation that sometimes occurs due to malice, but more often when the owner was not fully aware of the constraints associated with the adoption of an animal and was overwhelmed by the situation.

To avoid becoming, through negligence or ignorance, the executioner of the doggie you promised to cherish, here is a little guide on adopting a dog, the things you need to know and the best way to find the ideal companion with whom to live peacefully throughout its life.


How to choose your dog ?

There are many reasons why you might want to adopt a dog and I think it is important to distinguish the good reasons from the bad ones in order to choose your companion.

First of all, there is a real difference between owners who want a dog for company and for work. Companion dogs are meant to stay by their owners' side, and working dogs will be more at ease with the tasks for which they have been selected.

What breed of dog to choose?
In fact, one should not neglect the impact of a dog's breed on its character, its mental and physical abilities and, consequently, the daily life that will suit it best. A working dog (guard dog, shepherd dog, sled dog, hunting dog...) will generally have a great need for physical activities and intellectual solicitations from its master.

Companion dogs are often considered less restrictive, because they are better adapted to a sedentary lifestyle. However, they do not tolerate solitude very well and need the constant attention and company of their master.

It should be noted, however, that a dog's education will considerably influence its behavior and its ability to adapt to its owner's lifestyle, often much more than its racial predispositions. Hunting dogs, for example, adapt very well to family life, as do sheepdogs.

A small companion dog, on the other hand, may not adapt to a position as a guard dog where he will spend much of his time alone watching your property.


Adopting a small dog: good or bad idea?

Let's take a closer look at pet dogs, especially small dogs considered "less restrictive". Adopting a dog is an excellent remedy for loneliness, as it makes a cheerful, loyal and protective friend, and can even help its owner meet new people at dog parks or dog activities.

However, it is important to remember that a companion dog is not "less demanding" than a working dog in every way. Certainly, they generally need less exercise, although all dogs undoubtedly need to be walked for an average of at least one hour at a time every day.

Also, despite their beautiful silky coats and fragile looks, small dogs are not made of porcelain, and Bichons, Lhasa Apsos and Pekingese are known to love long walks. Finally, if companion dogs are more inclined to tolerate a relatively sedentary life, they will be much more sensitive to loneliness than working dogs and will strongly need intellectual solicitations (games, learning new commands, etc.).

In summary, adopting a working dog is an option to consider if you have real missions to entrust to your pet that will keep him busy on a daily basis and allow him to blossom and remain balanced and healthy. Adopting a pet dog is an option if you have a lot of time to devote to a companion with whom you intend to build a unique relationship.

In both cases, you must be prepared to make a 10 to 15 year commitment, pay expensive veterinary bills - sometimes in the four figures - give up your vacation if your doggie can't stand to be kept or travel, and educate him well.




Why not adopt a dog?

If there are excellent reasons to adopt a dog, there are also very bad ones, those that unfortunately lead to situations of abuse - often involuntary - and abandonment. Fashion is a very common reason for adopting a dog, and it often leads to disaster, as shown by the wave of Huskies abandoned after the adoption wave caused by the hit series Game of Thrones.

Dogs with stars, those who became heroes of series, movies or comics are the collateral victims of fashion, adopted by owners who fell in love with their beauty or the values to which they attach them without having any idea of their needs. For example, a beautiful Husky is not a docile, cuddly and malleable dog: it is a temperamental animal, independent, proud, dominant, complicit without being demonstrative, and which needs a lot of physical exercise.

Without a lifestyle adapted to his character, he will most likely tear your home apart to counter the boredom and frustration that cause him to feel deeply unwell. The surprise gift is probably the worst way to acquire a dog: you can't give a ball of hair to someone for Christmas or for his birthday, even if he really wants it.

First of all, a master should ideally meet his future companion several times before adopting him to make sure that their respective characters will fit. Moreover, offering a living being to someone who did not necessarily ask for it is a real poisoned gift, and the dog always comes out the loser of this forced relationship.

Also, we absolutely avoid giving a dog to a relative or, even worse, to his child, who is clearly not in a position to provide for the needs - especially financial - of an animal. Boredom can be alleviated by the presence of a dog, but the animal should not be adopted for this sole purpose.

Indeed, a dog will be a constant occupation for its owner, but it is not enough to play with it and cuddle it to take good care of it. A dog implies financial expenses that are sometimes very important and rarely predictable, and also requires specific knowledge to educate and take care of it.

A good education and an adapted way of life are, indeed, the keystone of a healthy master-dog relationship and a balanced behavior. Unfortunately, love at first sight is a frequent reason for adopting an animal, especially when the owners have never owned an animal and are not aware of the adventure they are embarking on.

Pet shops, champions in displaying adorable puppies in their windows, rely heavily on this famous "coup de coeur" to sell their stock, even if it means selling their animals to unwary owners. A thoughtless adoption of this type is likely to lead to dramatic situations, especially since puppies sold in pet stores often have deviant characters that novice owners do not understand and take for disobedience.


Your responsibilities: things to know before adopting a dog

Among the points to keep in mind before adopting a pet, we often speak first about the cost and the duration of the commitment, aspects that are now quite well-known. I prefer, for my part, to emphasize the unpredictable side of the adoption process, a point neglected by many owners.

Indeed, no matter how hard you think about your decision and how carefully you choose the breed of dog that is supposedly made for you, you must first accept the following fact: adopting a dog means accepting a part of unpredictability. Despite its racial predispositions, the temperament of its parents, the guarantees of its breeder and the skills of its trainer, a dog can always bring its share of surprises.

How many dogs are abandoned because they have grown more than the owners expected at the time of adoption, becoming too cumbersome?
How many because they are impossible to keep by relatives during the absence of the owners and to transport in the car?
How many because they bark too much, cry or bark, even though they belong to a breed that is reputed to be silent?

Keep in mind that even if you have planned everything (an annual veterinary budget, a system to keep your dog during your vacations, a lifestyle that should correspond to your new companion...) everything might not go as you imagine. Your dog may develop a long-term illness (e.g., diabetes) that will require expensive veterinary care for the rest of his life.

He may not be able to stand being away from you, or he may not appreciate his lifestyle and develop behavioral problems. So, having a dog means above all being ready to adapt and, sometimes, to make sacrifices that are more or less important depending on the possible problems encountered.

However, I want to reassure you: all problems have a solution, especially behavioral problems which almost always have a specific source that can be eliminated. However, you have to be ready to question yourself and be prepared to potentially have to call in a professional dog behaviorist to identify the problem and fix it.

Finally, it is also risky to assume the future character of your pet: some owners are looking for a happy companion and will end up with a placid and discreet dog. Others will adopt a dog that they think is calm and independent, and will end up with a real glue pot who jumps at the slightest of their movements and gets in their way wherever they go...





As mentioned above, budget and duration are now well known by the general public, but they should not be simply overlooked. Indeed, if the first reason mentioned when abandoning a pet remains unwanted litters (in 14% of the cases), moving (13.7%) and economic reasons (13.2%) follow it neck and neck.

Time is of the essence, especially if you don't know where you will be in 2, 5 or 10 years and what means you will have to take care of your pet.

Will you meet someone who doesn't like dogs or is allergic to them? Will you move from a house to an apartment?
Will you move to the other side of the world? Will you be working in a job that will require long or frequent absences?

A dog, depending on its breed, lives on average between 8 and 15 years, so you must be able to project yourself with a potentially cumbersome or barking animal during all these years. The budget must not be neglected either, especially concerning veterinary care which is sometimes very expensive and unpredictable.

Your dog can be hit by a car, become seriously ill, need medical treatment for life or over several months or years. In addition to these exceptional expenses, you should plan on between $500 and $1,000 a year for check-ups, vaccines, antiparasitics, common ailments (ear infections, gingivitis, etc.).

In my opinion, the key solution to deal with all the possible costly health problems of your dog is the canine health insurance. This type of protection, which works like our mutual insurance for humans, will allow you to smooth out your expenses over time and avoid finding yourself in the financial impossibility of having your pet treated in case of unforeseen circumstances.

This is an additional cost to anticipate when adopting a dog, which many owners see with a bad eye since the purpose of an insurance is, of course, never to be used, which gives the feeling of paying in the wind. However, we have to admit that without the Social Security and our mutual insurance companies, most of us would not be able to treat ourselves.

It is therefore not unreasonable to consider that without adequate insurance, it may not be possible for you to have your dog treated in case of injury or serious illness, in which case your

On top of that, there is the expense of kibble, and good quality food should be preferred if you want to reduce the risk of health problems leading to a large veterinary bill.

Count between 15 and 20 dollars of kibble per month for a small dog, close to 40 dollars per month for a medium dog, and sometimes more than 80 dollars of food per month for the biggest sizes.

Dogs with long fur may also need to see a groomer regularly to avoid developing skin diseases, ear infections and conjunctivitis.


Education and lifestyle

The education of the dog is crucial to prevent him from developing behavioral problems, which motivate 11% of the abandonments. In the same way, his lifestyle and his environment must correspond to his needs to allow him to stay well in his paws and balanced.

These two axes are closely linked, namely that a skilful education can help the dog to adapt to its lifestyle, and that an adequate lifestyle is essential to succeed in educating a dog. Let me explain: a dog that is by nature very energetic will have difficulty being receptive and listening if its spending needs are not met.

He will therefore have to benefit from enough physical and intellectual exercise to be in a good position to learn. His education can then allow him to channel his energy, for example by teaching him to call back to calm when he overflows you, or by teaching him not to jump out of excitement at the slightest sound when he hasn't been asked to.

Beware: training a dog will not make his needs disappear or lessen them, and having his needs met will not make him less distracted or stubborn during his lessons. But when one without the other simply won't work, careful training and an adapted lifestyle will make him a well-balanced, listening companion who won't turn his energy into destructive stress.

The education of your animal will allow you to teach him to support your absences and to socialize with the people, as with its congeneric. These aspects are essential to allow him to develop a balanced behavior, the goal being that your companion does not destroy your goods in your absence, does not attack your guests, does not urinate in your living room, etc.

Before adopting a dog, you should be aware that you will have to seriously consider its education to avoid it becoming unmanageable, whether it is a German Shepherd or a Bichon. Small dogs are often poorly trained, because their owners do not see them as a danger in the strict sense of the word and do not imagine how much of a nightmare such a small doggie can become when he is not in good shape.

This is one of the reasons why the adorable Jack Russels are among the most abandoned dogs, their small size leading their owners to neglect their education. The Jack Russel is indeed a very energetic, alert and lively dog, who needs a very active lifestyle to stay well in his head.

It is only by doing enough that he can be well educated, a difficult task considering his silly character that novice owners do not always suspect when they see his angelic face.

Badly educated, the Jack Russel is destructive, barking, quite cold to orders, and does not hesitate to nip or even bite. I therefore recommend that you seriously consider how you plan to educate your future dog, especially if you are a novice in this field.

A good solution is to ask all the questions that come to mind to the breeder from whom you are thinking of adopting your companion. He or she will undoubtedly be able to tell you if the puppy you want to adopt will be a challenge or if he or she will be receptive.

Finally, remember that dogs are trained without violence, and that their mischief should never be reprimanded, especially when it's due to stress, loneliness, boredom, etc.

If you do not achieve the desired results, you should quickly question yourself before persevering with methods that could disturb or permanently traumatize your companion. Sometimes, the best solution is to entrust your pet to a professional dog trainer: another cost to consider in your budget before considering an adoption, in case everything does not go as planned!





The environment and other animals

The environment you wish to offer your companion is also a point to consider before an adoption. If you live in an apartment, you must be able to take your dog for long walks every day.

If you have a large garden, don't make the mistake of believing that this will be enough for your dog: he will soon know it by heart and will still need to go for regular walks to discover new smells. Exploration is one of the most important needs of dogs, and your pet will appreciate slow walks - sometimes exasperating for owners - where he can sniff out new smells as much as he will appreciate running around and playing in large spaces.

If you have other pets, you should also consider the possibility that the cohabitation may not get better over time: you may be in for years of civil war at home. Many owners abandon their dogs because they chase their cats, or abandon their cats because they make their dogs bark...

Think twice, and don't assume that your current dog will put up with a newcomer just because he's playing at the dog park with other dogs: on his turf, things will certainly be different. Again, consider that if the cohabitation goes badly, you may have to call in a behaviourist, without any certainty that a solution will be found.

I would like to take this opportunity to point out that adopting a dog to keep company with another dog that is exhibiting deviant behaviour while you are away is not a solution. Two dogs will be just as bored as one while you are away, and they will certainly not have the fun together that you might imagine.

If your first pet can't stand to be alone, you should work on this with a specialist to try to calm his anxieties. Another solution, probably the best, is to hire a dog-sitter who will take your dog home or walk him when you are away.



Let's face it, dogs are never very clean: they smell like dogs, they like to roll around in smelly materials and they can take a long time to learn to relieve themselves outside. Unlike cats, who spend their time grooming themselves and naturally go to the litter box, dogs don't care about the cleanliness of their coats and don't necessarily understand that they have to wait until they are outside to urinate.

This is something to keep in mind before adopting a dog: your home will probably never be the same again. If you are very fussy, allergic to dust mites or have little patience, a dog is probably not the right companion for you.

Also beware of so-called "hypoallergenic" dogs, the existence of which is not scientifically proven. If you are allergic to dogs, unfortunately, no breed will work for you - even naked dogs - as the allergens are found in their saliva, sweat and other body fluids.

Dogs with little or no shedding may be suitable for housebreaking aficionados, but choosing the right companion for your temperament and lifestyle can't be limited to its fur.



Having a dog is not so far from having a child: it requires constant availability, great patience and, of course, a lot of love!

A dog must be walked daily, and when it is not out, it requires regular attention through games, cuddles and intellectual solicitations. You must be available to take care of him when he is sick and be able to take him to the veterinarian if necessary.

You must be patient enough to teach him, step by step, to become clean, to understand and remember your commands, to abandon bad behaviors and to follow your rules of life, all without any brutality. Our friends the dogs are also vulnerable, because they are desperately silent, especially when they suffer.

It is therefore up to the owners to pay special attention to them, to watch for changes in their behavior and mood, and to examine them regularly to make sure that everything is fine.




Where to adopt a dog ?

I can't advise you enough to turn first to the shelters to adopt your new companion. Contrary to popular belief, dogs that are abandoned and taken in by associations are not necessarily old, and even less sick.

There are also not only crossbred dogs, as purebred dogs are also abandoned because of fashion effects, but also because they are more fragile. Finally, abandoned dogs are rarely beaten and potentially traumatized or dangerous, contrary to what many future owners fear.

On the contrary, shelters are a great place to find a loving companion who is happy to have a second chance and who will make a loyal and affectionate companion. If you are afraid that you won't find puppies in a shelter, think again: unwanted litters are the main reason for abandonment, so there are many young dogs in shelters.

Nevertheless, adopting an adult dog remains, in my opinion, an excellent choice, especially for owners who are new to dog training. You will not enjoy the puppy face of your companion - which will only last a few months anyway - but you will adopt a doggie that is already clean and educated.

In addition, you should know that in the vast majority of shelters, dogs are re-trained on the spot to ensure that they are ready to start life on the right foot. They are also behaviorally tested to ensure that they are not dangerous to their new owners.

Finally, they are spayed or neutered and identified by tattoo or microchip, and while you'll usually have to pay these fees upon adoption, you'll be a far cry from the price of a puppy in a kennel, which averages $600 to $2,000.

If the idea of a shelter does not appeal to you, the best alternative is to turn to a professional breeder with a reputation for seriousness. Make sure that the breeder of your choice respects the standards. Take the time to see his dogs and to meet your future puppy several times before you decide.

Don't hesitate to ask the breeder of your choice for advice to make sure that your lifestyle will suit your future dog. Here are the places not to buy your puppy: pet stores, at the heart of multiple controversies, deserve to be avoided like the plague, if not boycotted.

They indeed "store" puppies and kittens in environments that are not adapted to their needs, and sometimes without respecting their weaning. The puppies offered for sale in these establishments often show deviant behaviors due to the trauma of separation from their mothers and the first days of their life spent in display cases.

Moreover, pet shops often sell their animals without giving the slightest valid advice to the owners, and without worrying about knowing if the lifestyle of the latter will correspond to the needs of the animal. Individuals who breed their animals should also be avoided, especially because it is impossible to have a look at the lineage of your puppy and its potential defects.

Moreover, a private owner does not respect any standards, and it is impossible to know if his dogs are raised in good conditions, if the pregnancies are not abusive or if the crossbreeding is inbred.


How much does a dog cost?

In a shelter, the adoption of a dog costs between 250 and 300 dollars. A deposit check may be required if the animal has not been spayed or neutered by the association that took it in. This deposit check, which is usually $300, is returned to the owner once the animal has been spayed or neutered.

This preventive act allows to avoid many health risks for the animal, but also aims at fighting against behavioral problems and unwanted litters, two frequent causes of abandonment. The cost of a purebred puppy from a professional breeder can range from $600 to $2,000 or more. It all depends on the breed of the animal and the prestige of the breeder.

The prices are relatively similar in pet shops and with amateur breeders, solutions that I advise you against again. Crossbred dogs from random litters can be sold at very low prices, or even given away, on classified ads between individuals.

Add to that an annual food cost that can range from $200 for a small dog to $1,000 for a large dog or sportsman. You can also count on an annual veterinary budget of up to $1,000 for check-ups, antiparasitics and vaccines.

I strongly recommend that you add to this a dog health insurance policy, ranging from $350 to $700 per year to avoid tripling your veterinary budget in case of unforeseen events. Finally, plan a budget for a dog trainer for the first year in case you can't train your dog, especially if you are a novice or if you choose a dog breed that is difficult to train.

If your lifestyle requires it, I also advise you to consider the cost of a regular dog-sitter to take your dog out when you are working and/or a boarding facility where you can place your pet during your vacation if you can't find any other solution.


Preparing for your puppy's arrival at home

A little puppy can be upset when he finds himself in a new place, far from his mother, his brothers and sisters and the environment where he had built all his references. It is therefore important to prepare him well to minimize his stress and avoid any trauma that could alter his equilibrium for a long time.

First of all, make sure your puppy is well weaned: he must be more than 8 weeks old, otherwise his sale is simply forbidden. If you have the opportunity, bring a cloth with your scent on it (t-shirt, blanket, etc.) to the breeder where your puppy is before he is adopted, so that he can imbibe it and take it with him when he moves.

Don't wait until your puppy arrives to buy everything he needs: his cozy, comforting basket, his bowls, his harness, his leash and his toys should already be waiting for him. The goal is to allow your little friend to quickly establish a sense of belonging by providing a stable environment from the moment he arrives.

It's a good idea to take some time off when you adopt your puppy to gently teach him solitude, as well as to potty train him. A young puppy needs to relieve himself every hour or more depending on the individual, and he won't understand the concept of toileting if it's too far apart and causes repeated accidents.

The question of sleeping with his puppy is also a delicate aspect of his education, because some experts think that it would promote the addiction of the dog to his master, making it difficult to learn the solitude essential to his well-being. On the other hand, others think it's a good idea to sleep with your puppy to comfort him the first few nights, so that the upheaval caused by his adoption is less traumatic and doesn't have a negative impact on his long-term balance.

Moreover, bitches generally keep their puppies with them until they are 3 to 4 months old before pushing them away little by little. It is therefore not without sense to see the master taking this role and sleeping with his little doggie the first weeks after his adoption, before slowly teaching him to spend the night alone.



Is it free to adopt a dog from a shelter?
No, shelters usually charge a fee of $200 to $300 to reimburse them for some of the costs they incurred in caring for the animal during its stay with them.

Can I adopt an adult dog?
You can find adult dogs for adoption in shelters or on websites for private individuals. However, in kennels, young puppies are more likely to be offered for sale.

How do I know if I am ready to adopt a dog?
Adopting a dog deserves a long reflection on all the aspects that will frame its daily life at your side. First of all, you must be sure that you have enough time and money to take care of your pet for 10 to 15 years. Then, you have to be aware that your pet may have problems with cleanliness, behavioral problems or may not be able to tolerate your lifestyle and may require adjustments.

How much does it cost to adopt a dog?
The price of a dog varies according to its breed, its pedigree and the organization that will sell it to you. It can start at $500 and go up to over $2,000.

Then you have to add to that an annual budget that includes food, veterinary fees, canine health insurance, education fees... This budget is usually counted in thousands of dollars per year, ranging from 1,500 dollars for a small dog to 3,000 dollars for a large one.

Adopting a dog is an experience that can turn out to be as wonderful as catastrophic, especially when you are not well informed. For informed owners, aware of the constraints and responsibilities involved in adopting an animal, it is often a wonderful step that marks the beginning of a unique relationship marked by trust and complicity.



Loving and educating your pet also means protecting it against the hazards of life. This is why we strongly recommend that you take out health insurance as soon as possible. This will save you astronomical veterinary fees in case of accident or illness.