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How to Adopt a Dog - 10 Things You Need to Know!

Are you considering adopting a pawsome pal? Rehoming a pooch is a very rewarding experience - not only do you get a wonderful four-legged new member of the family, but your dog also has the opportunity to live in a loving home with you!

Rescue and rehoming centres are committed to finding the right homes for the dogs they care for - and will match the right dog to you and your family, home and lifestyle. For example, they will consider your working hours, commitments, holidays and whether you’re an outdoor type. There are often a lot of different dogs looking for a new home; one of these could be the perfect doggo for you!


1. Where to start your search

It’s a good idea to try and find a rescue centre that’s relatively close to your home to facilitate visits and ensure you are a good match for your new pooch. If you have your heart set on a particular breed, your local rehoming centre may be able to help, and you can also check out breed rehoming groups too. It can sometimes take a little while to find the right dog for you, but they are out there!

If you’re adopting a nervous or scared dog, the rescue centre may advise taking your time for the dog to get used to you during multiple visits before you finally take them home with you.

2. Ensure the centre is legitimate

Be aware that not all rescue groups are real; some are posing online as a rescue group, when they are actually selling puppy mill dogs for profit. To avoid getting mixed up in a scam like this, do your research on the rescue centre or group beforehand. Although some groups use foster families to take care of their dogs, most should have facilities you can actually visit too. It can be a major warning sign if the centre doesn’t ask much about you, your lifestyle and your requirements, or if they have lots of puppies or purebred dogs, and are eager to give you a dog without checking you out first!

cute black terrier dog in grass

3. What kind of doggo are you looking for?

Think about the sort of dog you would like before you visit the centre - have a list of desirable and undesirable qualities that you’re looking for. It can be very easy to follow your heart and fall for the first dog you see! However, it’s important for you both that you find the right match. Consider the level of training they’ve had, whether they need lots of exercise, whether they have lived with other pets before (for example if you have a cat), long haired vs. short haired etc.

4. Consider their background

The dogs in rescue centres will have a variety of backgrounds, from owners that have to move to somewhere where a dog cannot live, to dogs that have been abandoned, or even dogs that have been born in the centre. Each pooch is unique and has their own personality - so the team at the rescue centre will work to match the right dog to your family based on their knowledge of the dog’s personality and their care needs.

5. What are their training needs?

If you’re adopting an older dog, you’ll see they have already had time to develop their personality. This will help you when matching the right dog to your family. They will also often have some basic training and will generally be less bouncy than a puppy!

Rescue centres often employ specialist trainers and behaviourists so that the dogs are cared for in the best way possible whilst staying with them, and to enable the centre staff to understand what is the best home environment for the dog; they’ll be able to advise you on any support and training your dog will need. Some dogs in rescue centres do come with baggage from their past life, but the rescue centre will let you know about any issues that your pooch needs ongoing support for, and will check that you’re able to support with this commitment.

If you have any problems once you’ve adopted your dog, the centre will also usually be happy to discuss what is happening and direct you to the appropriate help and advice to support you and your dog.

6. Get your home ready for your pooch

Most rescue centres will provide you with information about how to settle your new dog into your home. Once you’ve found the right dog for you, centres will ask you to fill out an application form  where you’ll give information about you, your family, living circumstances etc. There will also often be a home visit to make sure that your home environment is suitable for your dog’s needs and they will suggest any changes they think are required. For example, you might need to extend the height of your garden fence if your new dog is capable of jumping high. These checks ensure you’re able to provide a loving, comfortable home for your dog over the long-term.

7. Ensure you have a vet in place

Dogs from a rehoming centre will usually have had a vet check, been treated for parasites and vaccinated - as well as being neutered and microchipped if necessary before they go home with you.

Each rescue centre will have their own policies, but most have a fee or request a donation in order to support the care they provide. Once you’ve found your pawsome pooch best friend, ensure you register with your local vet as soon as possible.

Make sure your dog’s microchip is up to date with your contact details, and depending on local requirements, they may also need an identification tag with your contact details on.

8. Make introductions slowly!

Before bringing your pooch home, you should take everyone from the household to meet your prospective new dog so that they can get used to each other. Bring in a blanket or item of clothing from home to the centre so that this can be placed in the kennel with your dog; this will help introduce them to your scent and will be useful on the journey and in their first few days in your home.

9. Consider the resources your dog will need

happy terrier dog with toy

Preparing your home for your new family member is important to ensure you have everything they will need. Make sure they have a quiet area - or den - with their bedding where they can go and rest or sleep away from the hustle and bustle of the home. Ensure everyone knows that when your doggo is in this space, they should not be disturbed but can have some quiet time.

Have food and water bowls ready, plus a lead or harness and feeding toys such as a KONG which will keep your dog entertained. The centre will also be able to tell you a little about what toys and games your dog enjoys so you can ensure you have similar toys at home to start off with. Also consider how you will safely transport your dog home if it is not a walkable distance - in the car they need to be restrained for safety. This could be via a crate or transport carrier, dog guard, or harness attached to a seat belt.

Make sure you’ve dog-proofed your garden too, ensuring the fence meets requirements so that they can’t get out. Also ensure you remove any dangers such as poisonous plants.

10. Provide extra comfort to your pooch with ADAPTIL

An ADAPTIL Calm On-The-Go Collar is a great way to help your dog as they adapt to the changes of moving into their new home - from the journey in the car to the new routines, new people and possibly other new animals. ADAPTIL Calm On-The-Go Collar provides constant reassurance and comfort to your dog wherever they are during this time by releasing reassuring pheromones into the environment.

dog lying on rug with owner


Remember that it takes time for a dog to settle into their new home and this can vary depending on each dog and their experience, so try to be supportive of your pooch and go at their pace (never force them to interact). By slowly helping your dog to settle in and rewarding them for positive behaviour, your relationship is sure to blossom and will be worth the wait!

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