How To Adopt A Rescue Dog-How To Adopt A Dog From A Shelter


How to adopt a rescue dogIf you are thinking about adopting a rescue dog or adopting from an animal shelter I commend you. There are so many dogs that need great homes and to be loved, that any help that can be offered to them is great.

Approximately 3.9 million dogs enter shelters every year in the United States. Being a dog lover, I believe all dogs need a great home to be loved and treated with the respect they deserve.

So lets take a look at how to you adopt a rescue dog or how to adopt a dog from a shelter? There are some differences between the two for the process of adoption and possibly the reasons the dog needs a new home. I am going to explain how to adopt a rescue dog and also how to adopt a dog from a shelter.

Dog Rescue Shelters

Most times Rescue Dogs are not actually kept in Dog Rescue Shelters. Usually these dogs will be kept in foster homes or private boarding facilities. This allows the dogs to heal if necessary and receive medical attention when needed. The rescue dogs won’t be ready to be released until they are cleared medically.

They are surrendered dogs and it could be because they were abandoned, mistreated, neglected, or surrendered by a shelter thatHow to adopt a rescue dog wasn’t able to place the dog with a family. They will receive medical care if needed and then placed in a foster home until they find their forever home.

The process of adopting a rescue dog is quite a bit different than adopting from an animal shelter. Each adoption is processed a bit differently, but I have some general guidelines that are common for most rescue dog adoptions.

Rescue Dog adoptions are usually run by volunteers. The time for the entire process will take longer to complete, as there isn’t a staff waiting and ready to handle adoptions as they come up.

When you find a dog you are interested in, the best practice is usually to email them to find out more information about the dog you are interested in. Some shelters will have you fill out an application form first to inquire about a particular dog, so they are sure to have all the information about the dog you are interested in before contacting you. Usually this will take a few days for you to get the information back.

Steps For Rescue Dog Adoption

First you need to find a dog that you are interested in adopting. A great place to look is Adopt A Pet. They will have dogs listed from shelters and Rescue Shelters that need a home.

You enter your zip code and the type of pet you want, and pictures of available pets will come up that match your search. You can then click on the dog’s picture to get additional information about the dog you are interested in.

The Dog Rescue Shelter will than call you to talk about the dog, and if it is a good match, you will schedule to go and meet the dog.

The next step is a home visit is scheduled and they will let you know if you are getting the dog you are interested in. The Rescue Shelter will email the vaccination and sterilization records to you so you can get a dog license.

How to adopt a rescue dogFoster owners will bring your new dog to your home, you will sign their adoption contract and pay their adoption fee. This fee can range from $100 – $300, sometimes more.

Adopting From Dog or Animal Shelters

Animal Shelters include local animal shelters and animal control. They could be city or county Animal Shelters or as some people might call it “The Pound.” They are also know as the Humane Society.

The dogs in an animal shelter could be there for numerous reasons, but not necessarily because they have been abused. It could beHow to adopt a rescue dog stray dogs, a family that turned in a dog that they no longer could care for, or puppies a dog owner couldn’t find homes for.

Adopting a dog from an Animal Shelter is really quite easy. You would go to the animal shelter to look and see what they have available. If you find a dog you like, the staff will take the dog out of his pen for you to meet and play with. If you decide you would like the dog, you will go to the front desk to proceed with the adoption.

You will need a photo ID and pay the adoption fee which usually costs between $25 – $125. They will then give you copies of the dog’s vaccination records and sterilization certificate so you can get them licensed. That is it. You now are a new dog owner and can take your dog home.

Generally there is no screening process from an animal shelter and adoption fees are often lower than rescue centers.

Things You Need to Consider Or Plan For Before Adopting A Dog

All dogs will need sufficient exercise, which will vary depending on the breed and age of dog you plan on adopting. They also will need mental stimulation, something to challenge their mind to avoid boredom. When dogs get bored, they can get into trouble.

Plan that the adjustment period could take several weeks to possibly 3 months for your new dog to adjust to your home and family. During this time, it could be a challenge.

Choose a dog that will fit your lifestyle. The appropriate size, age and energy level for your life.

Make sure you can have a dog where you live, especially if you rent or have a homeowner’s association. If they allow dogs, there is a good chance that they might have a weight restriction.

How To Prepare For Your New Dog Before They Arrive

As you are waiting for your new dog to arrive, there are many things you should do before they arrive.

  • If you decide that you are going to use a crate, pick up the crate ahead of time and decide on the location for it and line the crate with either towels or blankets. Something that you can easily wash.
  • Dog proof your home. A new dog can get into all kinds of trouble. Move dangerous plants from your dog’s reach, and you should move breakable items that are within a dog’s reach.  If can find additional information on dangerous plants for dogs here.
  • Have your dog’s new bowls, leash, dog food and treats purchased prior to your dog arriving. Find out what food your new dog is currently eating and continue on that food. You will want to make a slow transition to a new dog food if your decide to change their food. Mix old food with new food for about a week to avoid upsetting their stomach.
  • Pick out a vet, and shortly after bringing home your dog, schedule a vet visit so your vet can establish a base line on your new dog’s health.
  • Get dog tags made with your current information on them. If a new dog runs off, chances are they won’t be able to find home since it is all so new to them.

What To Expect From A Rescue DogHow to adopt a rescue dog

  • Shyness, hiding or timidity.
  • Barking for reasons you won’t be able to understand.
  • Marking territory.
  • Separation anxiety.
  • Forgetting former house training skills.
  • Possessiveness with you, toys or the house.
  • Leash aggression.
  • Nervousness around strangers.

In most cases, it will take your dog 1 – 3 months to feel comfortable in their new home. Use positive reinforcement training with your new dog. You will need to be patient with your dog and provide ample exercise.

Get your new dog an on consistent routine or schedule right away. Dogs actually prefer to know their schedule and will behave better when they start to understand what is expected of them. Also, being calm around them and a confident leader will help your dog to adjust more quickly.

Plan on spending more time with your dog initially when they come home, and don’t immediately introduce them to other animals until they are feeling more secure.

Introduce your dog slowly to your home. Just do a few rooms at a time, and don’t move on to other rooms until they have explored the new area and have calmed down.

Avoid dog parks while your dog is adjusting, as they can be stressful for a dog that is trying to adjust.

Before you know it, you will have a happy adjusted best friend that will be glad for all the love he is getting.  How to adopt a rescue dog


There are millions of dogs every year that are in need of a great home and a family to love them. There are too many dogs in need in dog rescue shelters and animals shelters, that all dogs lovers should try to figure out some way that they can help these dogs in need.

It might be by adopting, which is great, or you could volunteer at a shelter or rescue shelter, or spread the word about dogs looking for homes.

From the information that I provided you, I hope you have a better understanding on how to adopt a rescue dog or how to adopt a dog from a shelter, but if you have any additional questions or comments, please leave them below and I will get back to you.

Some of the links within this post are affiliate links of which I might receive a small compensation from sales of certain items. 









  1. Marla, thanks for this informative post on adopting a dog. I love dogs (and pets in general) and we had adopted an adult rescue dog about 10 years ago. He is loved to pieces and brings so much joy to our family. One thing I have not been able to do is going to a local shelter because I just can’t imagine having to pick one dog from all the others who need a permanent home. It would just break my heart…

    • Good for you adopting from a rescue shelter. There are so many great dogs that just need a home and some love. I also need to stay away from animal shelters. I wouldn’t be able to decide who to take home, and would end up with too many pets to care for. Especially knowing you can walk out the door that same day with your new pets. I would be too weak. Glad you have a great dog.

  2. Hello Marla what a very informative article. For my family this is the only way we get dogs. But anyone thinking about it needs to read this article you point out the processes you will have to go through and this will help many to be a step ahead so there’s no big surprises.
    Thank you So much

    • David, the world needs more people like you, who gets their pets from shelters. That is a great deed in my opinion. I’m glad you found the article informative for others who are thinking of going through the same process.

  3. I really liked your article, full of great information. Plus I love the cause. I volunteered at an animal rescue by my house every weekend before my son was born. It is very humbling experience getting to interact with so many amazing animals and people who care for them. Every dog I ever met at the shelter I worked was amazing.

    We would even get to do events outside of the rescue center, so the dogs would ride in my car, and I tell you they were better than my dogs who ride in the car weekly. Such sweet and loving animals.

    • Bo
      Thanks for reading and I’m glad you found it informative. That is a great service volunteering at an animal rescue. I think that it would be a rewarding experience. I have never met a dog from the shelters that weren’t looking for anything other than love.

  4. Marla thanks for the awesome informative post! I have many friends that have adopted dogs from shelters. It is amazing to see how dogs that come from very rough past life experiences such as living on the street or abusive or neglectful environments can thrive in a loving and caring home. I hope many people read your post. Thank You

    • Thomas, thanks for reading my article and I’m glad you found it informative. Please share with others that could benefit from my article.

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