Adopting a dog is a wonderful thing to do, but that doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do for everyone. Bringing a pet into your home will always present new challenges and obstacles, even more so with adoption.

There are many wonderful benefits to adopting a dog, giving an older pet a new lease on life is a beautiful thing to do. By adopting a dog instead of buying one you could end up loving a breed you never expected to, you could also save money and ultimately save a life.

However, finding the right pet for you is not an easy process. In fact, almost 10 percent of adopted dogs are returned to the shelter, this is for a number of reasons but often because those adopting haven’t fully considered their decision, or weren’t able to get to know the dog prior to the adoption (for example, during the pandemic). Animal welfare organisation, PETA, shared that most animal shelter drop-offs made in January are unwanted Christmas gifts.

If you are considering bringing a dog into your family through the route of adoption here are some of the key things we urge you to consider:

Every dog has a unique personality – just like us humans, dogs are unique in their personalities, likes and dislikes. While there are commonalities between different breeds, a factor which can help you to decide the type of dog which best suits your lifestyle, it’s impossible to determine the exact personality of your new pet. This is especially important to take note of when adopting, as many of the dogs will have led a life prior to their time in the animal shelter, and prior to joining your family.

You may not bond immediately – if you can, we strongly suggest you meet the dog prior to signing any papers and bringing them home. Many adoptions made during the pandemic were done so at a time when face-to-face meetings were not allowed, which of course led to a strike in animals being returned to the shelter when they weren’t what the new owners expected them to be.

Bringing a new pet home can be stressful for all of the family, let alone the dog who is having to adapt and understand a new environment with new rules, smells and sounds to navigate. It’s likely that the dog will need time to adjust to the new situation, and so may you too. There will be a new routine to adjust to, and a new personality living in your space – don’t fret if your bond isn’t immediate, the love will come.

Lower your expectations – perhaps you’re expecting that you will bond with your new pet immediately, as stated above, that may not always be the case. You may expect your new pet to be as energetic as you are, and eager to accompany you on long countryside walks, or 5k runs; that may not be the case (especially during the initial transition phase). Unrealistic expectations can be really damaging to the adoption process, try to enter into it with a clear mind, and realistic expectations.

Having a pet is very time consuming – when you picture owning a dog, you may imagine peaceful dog walks, morning and evening feeds and sofa cuddles. It is that, and so much more. Your dog walks won’t always be peaceful, with bad weather to be expected, dog poop to be collected and your dog’s training all to be considered. Feeding time will not always be straightforward, with many pets preferring to empty their bowl of food onto the floor and lap it up from your cream carpet. The cuddles are always a welcome benefit, but many dogs are more affectionate and more clingy than others. You could have a pet who likes to keep themselves to themselves, or one who refuses to leave your side, much like a toddler who insists on watching you pee.

The breed and general health of your pet will determine how long their walks need to be, and in the initial stages of welcoming your new pet into your home you will need to spend a lot of time training them, making them feel comfortable, and expect to have to increase the amount of time you spend cleaning. Adopted dogs may require more training, and time, but we’re not sure there’s a better way to spend your time than earning the love of a dog.

It’s not free – while adopting a pet may be cheaper than buying one, it is by no means free. There will likely be initial adoption fees, as well as vet and food bills that you need to consider. Ensure you understand the expected (and unexpected) costs that come with owning a pet before you even visit a shelter. Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment, it may not be free but the love you’ll receive will be priceless.

Did you adopt a dog? What do you wish you’d known before you did? Share your advice in the comments.