Skip to Content

The Ultimate Dog Adoption Checklist

Adopting a dog is one of the best things you can do. However, before adopting you should create your own adoption checklist with our pointers below.

Dogs bring priceless joy and unconditional love into their owners’ lives. And, in return, those owners have been shown to have lower mortality rates and incidences of depression as a result.

However, the process of finding the right life partner for you may seem overwhelming at times.

There are many things to consider, like food preferences or size, but it may be easier than you think if you know what to expect.

That is why we have put together this checklist that will prepare you with everything from determining the right time to adopt to what dog supplies you’ll need.

The Ultimate Dog Adoption Checklist

Questions to Answer Before Adopting a Dog

Before adopting your dog, it’s essential to go through this checklist of questions and have concrete answers to each of them.

This will help you determine if it’s the right time to adopt a new furry family member and what dog products you’ll need to have ready when you bring them home.

What are my current responsibilities?

Before you think about adopting a dog, it’s important to make sure that you have the time and energy to dedicate to them.

Dogs come with many different needs, like exercise, playtime, grooming, training, and walks.

Make sure that you are willing and able to commit the time needed for your new dog and that your schedule will be flexible enough to accommodate them.

It’s important to not rely on crating your dog to deal with all problem behaviors, according to experts, and to make sure your dog receives adequate attention and training.

What kind of lifestyle do I lead?

Different dogs have different energy levels, so your lifestyle may be a factor in choosing what breed or size is best for you.

For example, suppose you live in an apartment and work long hours but still want a pet.

In that case, you might consider adopting a smaller dog like a Pomeranian or Chihuahua.

Do I expect my lifestyle to change in the near future?

Dogs are creatures of habit, so if your life is about to change (like getting married or moving houses) drastically, you should consider waiting before bringing home a dog.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to adopt a dog because your life circumstances have changed for the better (like you just got a promotion or moved to a new house with a yard), it might be a perfect time.

Do I have the financial means to care for a dog?

Dogs need good quality food, updated vaccinations, and medical care as they age.

They also need toys and treats and lots of opportunities for exercise that may cost you money (like joining a doggy daycare or hiring a dog walker).

So make sure that you can financially care for your new furry family member before you adopt them.

Meeting Your New Dog’s Needs

Preparing your home for the arrival of a dog is essential, and by answering this checklist of simple questions, you’ll be able to determine precisely what you’ll need for your new pet.

After all, many things need to be considered when planning to bring home your new companion.

Have you shopped for the basics?

When it comes to owning a dog, there are some basics that everyone will need.

These are the essentials required to welcome a new dog home, including food and water bowls, a leash and harness for walks, and a collar with tags.

If you have everything on this initial list, you’re off to a good start! If not, it may be worth a visit to your local pet supply store or time to do some online shopping.

Quick List:

  • Food and water bowls
  • High-quality dry dog food
  • Various treats, including smaller training/reward treats
  • Size, breed, and age-appropriate dog toys (balls, chew toys, rope toys, puzzle toys, etc.)
  • Collar with ID tags that include the dog’s name, your phone number, and your address
  • Leash with a harness for walks
  • Biodegradable/compostable poop bags
  • First-aid kit for dogs
White dog in shopping cart at pet supply store

Where will your dog stay when you are home and away? What’s your house-breaking strategy?

If you will not be home for part of the day or cannot constantly supervise your new dog and are unsure about your dog’s toileting habits, it will be wise to come up with a plan.

One way to deal with this is to invest in a dog crate and some appropriate bedding to go inside.

The goal is to make this a sanctuary for your dog and use it only some of the time.

Remember to choose an appropriately sized crate.

That means a crate your new dog can stand up in and move about, but nothing so big that they can toilet at one end and sleep at the other.

Alternatively, if you plan to leave your dog for long periods of time, keeping your dog secure in a given area or room in your house is a better option.

In this case, you may opt for some pet or baby gates.

Just be sure they’re the proper height and can be firmly secured to avoid escapes.

It’s also important to not use bedding with stuffing, such as plush beds or blankets with Poly-Fil, inside the dog’s crate.

New dogs can be anxious and destructive, tearing apart pillows and then ingesting stuffing.

We recommend fleece blankets to start.

It’s also wise to keep some pee pads in the crate or room and accessible in the house, especially if you’re working with a puppy.

Again, dogs should not be left in crates for long periods, so if you’re gone more than a few hours, arrange for someone to pop by to let them outside or give them a walk.

Quick List:

  • Dog crate
  • Pet gate/baby gate
  • Fleece blankets or cotton sheets for bedding
  • Absorbent pee pads/training pads
  • Friends or family to check in on your new dog

What are the grooming needs of the dog you are adopting?

Different dog breeds have different grooming needs, from hair care to nail trimming.

Basic grooming can be an added expense that some new pet owners do not anticipate, so it’s essential to research what is required before adding a dog to your family.

If your dog is a mixed breed, it may be challenging to determine their grooming needs, so either spend some time speaking with an experienced groomer or consult your vet for more information.

Quick List:

  • Dog grooming products and supplies such as shampoo and brushes
  • Towels you don’t mind drying your dog with
  • A blow dryer for long-haired dogs
  • Nail clippers
  • Canine toothbrush and toothpaste

What kind of furniture do you have?

Furniture may be something most people forget about in all the excitement of adopting a new dog.

Dogs may not understand that couches and beds are off-limits if that’s your plan, so make sure that you choose dog beds that will appeal to your new friend but also fit in with the rest of your home’s decor if that’s important for you.

Some dogs prefer a nice plush pillow, while others will be more content with a blanket or a covered retreat, so consider buying multiple options just in case if your budget allows.

You might also want to consider coverings for your furniture, especially if the material is leather.

Quick List:

  • Furniture coverings for the sofa
  • Dog beds and blankets for outside their crate
Large yellow dog laying on a gray couch

Are you ready to clean?

Some adopted dogs come to us trained with excellent manners, but the reality is many don’t through no fault of their own.

They simply haven’t learned yet.

While you grow to know each other and your newly adopted dog learns the rules of the house, chances are they’re going to make a mess from time to time.

In all likelihood, this will probably never stop. Why?

Because sometimes, dogs are dogs and make a mess.

This may include the occasional accident indoors, muddy paws, and fur balls rolling like tumbleweed across the floor.

It’s best to be ready for these sorts of situations with some cleaning supplies.

It’s best to avoid products with harsh chemicals and essential oils because some of these can be toxic for animals.

Quick list:

  • Enzymatic odor neutralizer for spot-cleaning
  • Non-toxic cleaner for floors/surfaces
  • Highly absorbent paper towels
  • Sponges, cloths, and cleaning brushes

The Most Important Thing to Remember

Adopting a new dog is exciting and a fantastic experience, but it can also be a bit stressful.

The most important thing to remember in all of this is not to rush.

Instead, be patient with yourself and your new furry friend.

Understanding a dog’s needs is important, but so, too, is understanding your own, including knowing what you can handle and how much time you have and having the resources required to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Keep these tips in mind as you embark on an amazing journey together!


Monday 26th of December 2022

My pets pretty much just "show up". At this juncture in my life I've had so many personalities, I now know certain traits I'd prefer. If I ever go out and pick my next pet, I'll keep some of that in mind


Tuesday 6th of December 2022

Can't wait to adopt another dog

sarh s

Monday 20th of December 2021

Wonderful things to keep in mind! The financial responsibility is a great one to outline.


Saturday 18th of December 2021

This is a great checklist for new pet parents thanks for sharing it.

Sarah L

Saturday 18th of December 2021

Excellent ideas. It can be overwhelming to think about.

Love these woofs?

Help spread our waggie tales. You're pawesome for doing it!