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Adopting a Puppy (Basic Tips You Need to Know)

Bringing a puppy into your home can be one of life’s biggest joys. If you’re not properly prepared, it can also be one of life’s biggest challenges. As such, there are several steps you must take to truly make your new four-legged friend feel welcome in your home.

So You Want to Bring a Puppy Into Your Life? Some Food for Thought

The nature of dogs tends to make the notion of adopting one a relatively easy decision to make on paper. After all, they’re adorable pets with the type of personality that make it easy to see why they’ve long been dubbed “man’s best friend.” However, bringing a dog into your life is much more complex than picking a cute face.

For instance, it’s a common mindset to think of your puppy as a fur-faced baby. While there are a few ways in which this comparison correlates – particularly when it comes to nurturing the pup until he matures to a state of independence – there are also a couple of key reasons why this shouldn’t be viewed as a one-to-one comparison.

The biggest reason for this is quite literally the nature of the beast. While all puppies can become loving pets, each breed comes with his own tendencies that ultimately dictates his fit within your life. It is imperative that you remain conscientious of these tendencies while adopting a dog, lest you unwittingly create a mutually less-than-optimal environment.

For instance, a Border Collie puppy may look too irresistible for words – understandable because he's a rather handsome breed. However, his inherent herding and working nature translate to him needing a wealth of outdoor activity and exercise even as he matures into adulthood. If you aren't prepped for this, he's not the best pup to bring home.

For this reason, it’s imperative that you study up on certain breeds before you bring a puppy into your home. There’s a lot of purebreds and hybrid “designer” pups out there, so you’ll find several that will fit in well with your personality and lifestyle. You just need to put in the necessary time to find them.

What Does the Term Adoption Mean?

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Let’s get one thing clear: adopting a puppy does not mean getting a puppy for free. Whether you get a pooch from your local animal shelter or a reputable breeder, there will be some costs involved in bringing him home. There are specific variables that cause this price tag to slide, such as breed and age.

Before you balk at having to shell out cash for your new little buddy, remember the adage “you get what you pay for” applies. Typically, this costs covers shots and other medical necessities the pup has undergone so he can be fit to bring home. If you get your pup from a shelter, it may also be used for spaying, neutering, and microchipping costs.

Also, when you’re getting a dog from a shelter, part of your fees are being used to help keep the place operational. This not only includes the facility, but it also includes providing each pup food, toys, treats, bedding, and other items that help cultivate a comforting environment while he waits to be rescued.

Never Buy a Pup from a Pet Store

There are several variables that you must consider before adopting a pup. There is also one hard, fast rule that should partially govern your decision at all costs. You should never “adopt” a puppy from a pet store under any circumstances.

While we’ve all stopped by the front window of a local pet shop and fawned over the sight of puppies frolicking in the display, their mirth hides a dark, relatively open secret. Chances are, that puppy you’re looking at come from a puppy mill, which is more or less dog factories whose yen for profit supersedes any respect for the pup's well-being.

There have been countless accounts of puppy mills horrifically mistreating their pups in various ways, from cramming them in too-small spaces of extreme squalor to completely ignoring basic health needs like shots. Sadly, it’s not uncommon to hear of stories of these pups dying or developing severe health issues shortly after being purchased.

What’s more, puppy mills tend to ship the pups off to stores before they have the chance to be fully socialized with their littermates. The subsequent lack of behavioral development that occurs from being disrupted in this manner tends to lead to behavioral issues and mental instability.

The combination of mental and physical issues leads to dogs that, sadly, don’t have much of a fighting chance to have a happy, healthy life. Purchasing your pup from a pet store keeps this vicious cycle going. While there are laws in place to help combat puppy mills, refusing to buy from a pet store helps this legislation out, even on a small scale.

Adopting Puppies From an Animal Shelter Gives Some Dogs a Fighting Chance

With that being said, adopting a puppy from a shelter can allow you to bond with physically imperfect pups who, despite their lack of show-dog quality, deserve to be loved in their own right. As this video demonstrates, a dog that has some physical “baggage” can grow into a handsome, happy dog that will make you smile.

Shelter vs. Breeder: Which is Best?

Even if you avoid buying a puppy from a pet store – and again, you should – that still doesn't mean you're clear from the debate. Indeed, there are two ways you can pick up a puppy for your home; going through a reputable breeder, or swinging by a local animal shelter. Which is the right choice?

There are pros and cons to purchasing your pup through either route. These pluses and minuses may not necessarily be strong enough to swear you off on one way or another, but they are essential to be mindful of before you bring a puppy into your home.

If you insist on working with a dog breeder to adopt a puppy, it may require a considerable amount of research and leg work to ensure the legitimacy of the breeder. While you’d like to think that all breeders are in the business for the right reasons, this is sadly not always the case.

You should always look for a breeder that can provide you with information on the pup’s parents to ensure you’re not getting a puppy prone to communicable disease. Your breeder should also have provided your potential pup with the appropriate amount of shots, and also had an active hand in the socialization process.

Your best bet to find a breeder that’s right for you is to speak to your local veterinarian or a local dog trainer. If you’re intent on a purebred, you may want to find a local accredited association for the breed you want in order to be pointed to the right direction.

While this may sound like a lot of work, there is also a tremendous upside. If you have any plans on getting into the show-dog circuit, going through a legitimate breeder who has pedigree records is far and away your best bet. You will also have a better bead on certain metrics concerning your pup as matures into adulthood.

Reputable breeders also tend to be qualified experts in the breeds they are helping to produce. Their insight may provide you important information that you can use to further assist you in helping to select the right dog. It could be the kind of wisdom that ultimately prevents you from making a decision you end up regretting.

On the other hand, if you’re picking up a pup from an animal shelter, you are saving a life. It is estimated that 1.2 million dogs are euthanized each year, which translates to a whopping 31% of all dogs that enter a shelter annually. Adopting a pup from a shelter makes a small but important dent into this harrowing statistic.

Going through a shelter to adopt your dog also tends to be more cost effective. One of the big reasons for this is because reputable breeders may devote some of their practice to producing show-quality dogs. These particular pooches tend to be on the higher end of the price spectrum.

Another reason for a shelter dog’s cost-effectiveness is because they tend to come to your care already spayed or neutered. Unless you’re interested in a show dog, this simple and important surgery is a necessary step for proper dog ownership. So why not has its cost already settled?

Exploring the Myths of Shelter-Based Adoption

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One thing that shouldn’t ever dictate your decision to go through a shelter to adopt a puppy is the belief in certain myths regarding the practice. It’s important that you recognize some of these tales as being tall before you conduct your search. Failure to do so may prevent you from bringing your ideal pooch home.

Perhaps the biggest myth out there is the notion that if you’re going to get a shelter dog, you’re going to have to get a mutt. However, this is a patently false belief. In reality, anywhere between 20 and 30 percent of the dogs received by shelters are purebreds.

What’s more, there are several rescue groups throughout the country devoted to sheltering and eventually providing permanent homes for purebreds. These special groups are not that difficult to find once you have decided upon a specific breed to pursue. Just be sure you do the due diligence needed to ensure the dog is right for you.

Another big myth regarding shelter pups is the notion that something is somehow wrong with them, hence, the reason why they're in the shelter. This, too, is a complete falsehood the ultimately belittles the good work that these shelters tend to create.

The primary reason why pups wind up in a shelter was that they could not be properly cared for by their former owners. There are several reasons why this could’ve happened, and practically none of them trace back to the dog being defective or even abused.

Granted, some of these reasons stem from a lack of due diligence on the previous owner if there is a puppy involved, such as an inability to afford the dog or breed incompatibility. However, it must be remembered that these situations had everything to do with the owner’s situation and not the dog’s. In other words, the returned pup isn’t damaged goods.

The other myth behind shelter pups is that even if they are purebreds, they are dirty, visually unappealing dogs. While some pups enter shelters dirty, the truth is they clean up nicely with a little bit of grooming. If the concept of getting adopting a dirty puppy is keeping you from the shelter, get over this concept post haste.

Wherever you adopt your puppy from, you are bringing a happy bundle of energy and joy into your home. However, your road to welcoming your little buddy into your home is far from over. In fact, in many ways, it’s just begun.

After the Puppy Adoption: A Video Overview

There are a lot of things to keep in mind once you bring a puppy into your home. However, a lot of these things can boil down to basic metrics involving health management, training, and patience. This video does a good job of distilling some of the complexities behind the proper cultivation of “puppy love.”

Things To Do Before Your Puppy Comes Home

As with most things in life, preparation is the key to success in raising a puppy. It’s important that you take care of a few things a few days before you bring your buddy home. These elements can draw the fine line between a great puppy experience and one that drives you crazy.

The most important thing you need to do before your puppy comes home is to equip yourself with patience and resilience. It’s going to take some time and plenty of effort for your puppy to become the dog you dream about – some breeds more than others. Coming to that realization before you have the pup will save you numerous headaches.

Once you’ve mentally prepared for puppy ownership, it’s time to get physically ready. Take the time to sit down and draft a long list of all the supplies you will need to make your pup happy and healthy in your home. This includes obvious stuff like food, bedding, and toys, but it also includes other things like ID tags and odor neutralizers.

You’ll also need to “puppy proof” your home as much as possible. Remember, your puppy will be a curious beast that may be prone to getting involved with unwitting mischief. Doing simple things like taping down electrical cords and keeping household chemicals out of reach can help prevent his inquisitive nature from turning deadly.

If you have kids in the house, it’s also important that you engage in training them, as well. Your kids are obviously going to adore your puppy, and this affection could grow to a fault if you’re not careful. Make sure they to give the puppy plenty of time to adjust to their new surroundings, and remind them that sometimes, dogs need some “me” time.

What to do Once the Puppy Arrives

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There are two important things you'll need to do when you bring your adopted puppy home. The first thing is to start the training process. The second thing is to be mindful of your new four-legged friend's breed tendencies.

You can start training your pup on simple commands like sit, stay, and down when they are 7 to 8 weeks old, which is roughly about the time when pups can be welcomed into new homes. You won’t be able to teach him advanced stuff until he’s a little older, but you shouldn’t worry about that stuff until he masters the basics.

When your new pup is in his new home, you should be aware of the basic behavioral and exercise needs that he needs in order to be happy. Since you have this knowledge, you should not slack off on ensuring those needs are met. Some of these behaviors are virtually embedded into their DNA, and it is futile to deviate from them.

For instance, if you have a pup known for high energy like a Dalmatian or a Greyhound, you shouldn't expect to mold him into a couch potato content to nuzzle up to your side. Doing so will only drive him to rearrange your flowerbed or other nefarious behaviors, simply because you aren't giving him a proper energy outlet.

Above All Else – Love Your Puppy for All His Life!

Eventually, your sweet little puppy is going to turn into an adult dog of various shape and size. But as he gets older, you’re still responsible for giving him the same level of love and attention as he may effortlessly cajole from you during his youth. And this is something that should always be aware of, even when you’re adopting a pup.


Laura Harris

Dr. Laura Harris is our resident dog health expert. She started to fact-check dog health-related information for HerePup during her internship and contributes since then. Her expertise is in dog nutrition, senior dog care, especially critical care medicine and internal medicine.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 5 comments
Ridley Fitzgerald - August 9, 2017

Thanks for the great tips on adopting a puppy. My wife and I decided that we want one, but neither of us has owned a dog before. We don’t mind spending the money to adopt one; the price will definitely by worth having a cute puppy to live with us!

Marcus Coons - August 12, 2017

Thank you for talking about how you need to take into consideration the tendencies of the type of dog you want to adopt before buying them. It makes sense that taking the time to learn as much as you can about the breed of animal you want can help you prepare for them. My son has been asking for a dog he can play with and has said that he would like an Aussie, so I’ll make sure to learn about their behavior before getting it.

Dan Moller - October 25, 2017

My family is planning to adopt a puppy after some (a lot) of persuasion coming from our kids. My husband and I were thinking about whether we should adopt one from a breeder or an animal shelter. I don’t suppose that we are adopting a puppy based on its breed or its pedigree. Do you think that taking the kids to both options and letting them “connect” to a puppy a better choice? Thanks!

Camille Devaux - April 10, 2019

I like that you mentioned getting your home ready for a puppy by proofing the house. This is a great way to make sure that your pet is comfortable when it comes home with you. My sister might like knowing this as her family has expressed interest in getting a poodle puppy.

Johnny McCarron - July 30, 2019

Thank you so much for your tips on adopting a puppy. We’re thinking of adopting one from a breeder. It’d be great for my wife to have a strong companion while I’m at work.


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