If you're looking to adopt a dog and don't know where to start, puppyfinder.com is an excellent source for information about adopting a dog and will connect you with hundreds of shelters across the US that have adoptable puppies and older dogs waiting for forever homes.
- Do your research - find out what types of dogs would be a good fit for your lifestyle and the activity level of your family. Also keep in mind the grooming needs of certain breeds that might require frequent maintenance.
- Decide what you can handle - before you get sucked in by all the adorable puppy eyes you're about to see, think long and hard about the appropriate age dog for your family or if you are capable of caring for a special needs dog. Puppies are a lot of work, if you don't have time for potty training and obedience classes you'll want to consider an older dog. There are plenty of middle aged, vibrant dogs up for adoption as well as many senior dogs that would be a great fit for a family looking for a more subdued dog with lots of love to give.
- Learn about the shelters and their adoption policies - It might be easier to start looking at shelters within a certain radius of home but don't be afraid to venture out to other states as well. Many states have larger populations of adoptable dogs and their shelters are willing to transport pets to suitable adopting families. Some shelters might have requirements for a home visit, a fenced yard or require you to visit the pet multiple times before you commit to adopting. Understand that the shelters are doing their best to place the pets in suitable homes and these requirements are in the best interest of both you and the pet
- Start looking - Once you know what you're looking for and what to expect you can start your search through thousands of adoptable dogs. PuppyFinder allows you to search by age, breed, location and gender.
- Meet in person. - Whenever possible it is best to meet the animal in person before agreeing to bring them into your life. Even though photos and descriptions can tell you a bit about a dog, you can't get a true feeling for the animal until you are able to interact with them and make sure they are a good fit for your entire family, including other pets.