Adopt don’t Shop: The 10 things you need to consider before you adopt a dog


Jade Poole from I write words

things you need to consider before you adopt a dog

This is how we know there are good people there: here you are, on an internet deep dive to find information about bringing a new furry addition into your home that maybe hasn’t had the best start to life and you’re looking to change that! Because we love people who do the kind thing, we have compiled a list of what to consider, what to ask and what to know before you adopt!

1.   This is a wagon everybody needs to jump on

If you live with your family, flatmates or on somebody else's property, we can’t emphasise enough the importance of getting everybody involved onboard. Before diving into the pet adoption process, there needs to be an understanding of what having a pet entails and especially the responsibility of having a dog from a shelter. There need to be ongoing conversations about roles and responsibilities, financial contributions and caring for your new dog together as a family.

2.   Ask smart questions

If you are adopting from a reputable shelter, you should be able to gain access to whatever information the shelter has about your potential dog. You need to ask for behaviour analysis of the dog - the shelter should have taken notes on the dog’s behaviour during their stay at the shelter and have a record of any patterns or changes in temperament. Your shelter will also be able to provide you with as much background information they have about the animal's life before the shelter. It makes a huge difference in being able to know what your dog has been through to understand why they behave the way they do and how you can make them feel secure.

3.   Wet your paws first

This is one of the most important parts of the adoption process. You need to insist on one on one time with your potential new family member before any decisions are made. This should include you being able to play with the dog in an open space and use any toys/training aids to see how they respond to you and your energy. Know what kind of dog will thrive in your home and choose accordingly - this is doing you and the dog a favour in the long run! Having a dog that is constantly active when you live in a small home and don’t have time to get them out is only going to end in disaster.

4.   Pet insurance

You need to remember that with unexpected emergencies and sky-high vet bills, pet insurance is so important for pet owners these days. Consider how much you are willing and able to budget towards your pet insurance policy and do your research on how to shop for pet insurance.

Because we’re objective and want you to see for yourself what’s out there - check out the checklist we made for you about shopping for pet insurance.

5.   You can’t assume your dog's personality

Amid all the pros of adopting a dog, there is the tricky and sometimes lengthy process of truly finding out your dog's personality: his likes and dislikes, triggers and comforters and how he responds to certain situations. You need to ask yourself if you have the time and stamina to be both loving and responsibly wary of your dog. You will find moments of frustration where your dog suddenly shows a behavioural trait they haven’t shown before, but you need to know how to be patient and willing to help them unlearn bad habits.

6.   Your home and your pet

If you’re at home, have a look around you and take note of what would need to change. If you see any wires, chemicals or delicate objects scattered around, we suggest you make sure they are out of sight and reach of your new pet. You won’t know how clumsy your new baby is until you see them scampering at full speed amidst your wedding china - this is all a part of the process but a little prevention never hurts anybody.

Another thing to consider regarding your home and your pet is the house rules. They should be clear and consistent from the beginning: are they allowed on the couch? Where will they sleep at night? What is their feeding routine going to be and where will you house train them? These are all important to know beforehand to make the transition into your home as smooth as possible.

7.   Old dogs and new tricks

There is a common misconception that a new dog must be a young dog, which we have found to simply not be the case. Choosing an adult dog may be the best decision for you and your family with their calm temperaments. Older dogs have loads of character and will create unique bonds given the chance. With enough patience and compassion, you can retrain an adult dog to be an obedient and loyal companion.

If you are looking for an energetic and longer-term addition to the family then a puppy is still a super exciting option.  When adopting a puppy you run the risk of not knowing how they will turn out - you may have a tiny garden and land up with a Great Dane sized crossbreed overnight! If size and breed are no issue, adopting a shelter puppy will be a joyful experience.

8.   There could be health complications

Having an adopted pet does sometimes mean that you run the risk of underlying health conditions going undetected for months or even years. With Oneplan, we offer comprehensive cover that won’t hold it against you if your adopted pet gets sick - what can we say, we’re big softies.

You can check out the ultimate guide to Oneplan Pet Insurance by clicking here.

9.   Adoption is a trial and error process

Listen up and listen good: you’re going to need to be prepared for a lot of trial and error on this adoption journey. Whether this is your first or fifth dog, each animal is unique and has its quirks and behaviours you will slowly come to know. Have a whole lot of options handy when it comes to grooming, food, toys and travel supplies. We wrote a super-comprehensive checklist of what to have in your arsenal when settling your pet into their new home - you can read it here!

10. Give fostering a go 

Fostering a dog whilst it waits to find an interim home is a fantastic way to find out whether you are up for adopting a dog. You will gain first-hand experience of how rescue and shelter animals behave and how to settle them into your home, even if only for a short time. You will learn how to care for animals who have been given away or abused or simply born a part of an unknown litter, better preparing you for having a permanent four-legged addition to the crew!

If you’re looking to get started, here’s a push in the right direction: CLAW is a donation-based animal shelter that dedicates itself to the protection and humane treatment of all abandoned animals, especially in informal settlements. They play a huge role in finding homes for rescue doggos and we recommend you check out the work they do!


Yours in one-of-a-kind insurance,


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