5 Things to Consider Before Adopting a Dog

May 18, 2023

If you've decided to open your heart and home to a new dog, we're wagging our tails with excitement for you! Just remember that bringing a new dog into your life is a big commitment. Before you leap headfirst into adopting a dog, doing proper research and prep work is essential. From practical matters to lifestyle adjustments, we'll dig into five crucial things to know before getting a dog.

But before we start, we'd like to give a shout-out to some of our pawesome partner rescues:

Now, grab a treat, get cozy, and let's dive into our most important tips before adopting a dog.

1. Know the Commitment

Adopting a dog means adding a new, lovable family member to your home. Understanding the commitment involved will ensure a happy and harmonious life for both you and your furry companion. Let's explore why this is essential and what you should consider before taking the plunge.

There are many questions to ask before adopting a dog. First, you'll want to get familiar with the average lifespan of the breed you're adopting. Some dogs may be with you for 10 to 15 years — or even longer — so be prepared for a long-term commitment. Next, take a good look at your living arrangements. Can your home comfortably accommodate the size and energy level of the dog you want to adopt? Keep in mind that some rental properties, hotels, and homes have breed restrictions, so it's essential to do your homework.

A man and a woman sitting on a couch with their dog who is intently focused on the camera.


You’ll also need to consider your daily schedule and lifestyle. If you frequently travel or spend long hours at the office, who will watch your dog while you're away? Some breeds are prone to separation anxiety, and this is especially true for dogs that spent time in shelters. You don't want to find out from your neighbors that your dog has been making a racket all day while you were out.

Another crucial aspect of commitment is behavioral training. Training your dog is not only essential for maintaining a peaceful household, but it also strengthens the bond between you and your new pup. With proper training, you can address any potential behavioral issues and create a strong foundation for a lifetime of love and happiness together.

Remember, adopting a dog is a significant responsibility that goes beyond cute cuddles and endless tail wags. Understanding and embracing the commitment ensures a rewarding relationship with your new best friend for years to come.

2. Understand the Costs of Owning a Dog

Getting a dog can be a rewarding experience, but it's important to recognize the financial responsibility that comes with it. From expected costs to surprise expenses, you'll need to seriously consider the financial implications of dog ownership before you adopt.

A man and woman at the pet store with their small dog in his hands.

Budget for Expected Costs 

Adopting a dog comes with various expected costs. Some of these are one-time fees, while others are recurring. Here's a list of common expenses and their average estimated cost:

  • Adoption fees: $100 to $400 one-time fee
  • Spay or neuter: $300 to $450 one-time fee
  • Vaccines and vet bills: $700 to $2,000 annual fee
  • Preventative medications, including heartworm medicine: $200 to $600 annual fee
  • Pet insurance: $240 to $600 annual fee
  • Training classes and resources: $125+ for a six-week class
  • Monthly professional grooming: $100+ per month depending on the breed and coat type
  • Monthly food costs: $20 to $80 per month
  • Dog walker and daycare costs: $0 to $5,200 annual fee
  • Leashes, dog toys, and other accessories: $100 to $300 one-time fee or as needed
  • Additional fees required by landlords, like security deposits or pet rent: $420 annual pet rent fee or a one-time deposit of around $500

Considering these expenses, the estimated cost of adopting a dog in the first year lies at a minimum of $3,500 — but can go as high as $11,000 or more! This is something to really think about if you’re asking yourself: should I adopt a dog?

Prepare for Unexpected Costs 

Life is full of surprises and getting a dog or adopting a puppy might add a few extra ones. It's crucial to be prepared for unexpected expenses that may arise, such as:

  • Unanticipated medical treatments. For example, treating a broken bone can cost between $200 and $2,000, while cancer treatments can easily exceed $5,000. This is why it's so important to either have an emergency fund or a pet insurance plan.
  • Home repairs or replacements. Accidents happen, and your dog may cause damage to your home — including carpets, floors, walls, and so on. Depending on the extent of the damage, repair or replacement costs can range from a couple of hundred to several thousand dollars.
  • Emergency boarding or pet-sitting expenses. On average, dog boarding costs can range from $25 to $85 per night, while pet-sitting services can cost $20 to $50 per visit.

3. Don’t Overlook Necessary Care

Just like humans, dogs need regular check-ups and maintenance to stay happy and healthy. Let's take a look at some of the essential care your dog needs to live their best life:

  • Vet visits. Your dog might hate them, but they're a necessity for a healthy pup. Finding a local veterinarian that you trust is like finding a best friend for your best friend. Make sure it's easy to schedule appointments and that they're available to answer any questions or concerns you might have.
  • Brushing. Another often overlooked care necessity is brushing their fur daily! Frequent brushing using a good quality dog brush is essential for your dog's overall health. It helps remove dirt, debris, and loose fur, preventing matting and keeping their coat shiny and fabulous.
  • Professional grooming. Regular professional grooming is also a must for all dog breeds. From cutting nails and cleaning ears to brushing teeth, these grooming tasks are important for your pup's general well-being. For convenient mobile grooming at your residence, book a session with Barkbus. One-on-one pampering, no other dogs around, and no cages or crates make it perfect for nervous rescue dogs.

4. Give It Time

Just like people, dogs need time to adjust to new environments, and that's where the 3-3-3 rule is helpful to keep in mind. The 3-3-3 rule is a rough guideline for understanding the stages of adjustment for rescue dogs. The rule breaks it down into three phases: 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months.

  • 3 Days. In the first few days, your dog may be overwhelmed and unsure about their new surroundings. They might be shy, anxious, or not as responsive to your commands. It's essential to provide a safe and secure environment for them to explore at their own pace.
  • 3 Weeks. After a few weeks, your dog will start to feel more comfortable in their new home. They'll begin to let their guard down, show their personality, and possibly even test some boundaries — so be prepared!
  • 3 Months. By the end of the third month, your pup should be settled into its new home and routine. They'll feel more confident, bonded with you, and truly become a part of the family. 

So, as you embark on this tail-wagging adventure, remember that good things take time. The 3-3-3 rule is a great reminder to be patient, provide a stable and loving environment, and allow your adopted dog to adjust at their own pace.

5. Consider Fostering

Before diving headfirst into adopting a dog, have you thought about dipping your toes in the water by fostering? Fostering is a temporary commitment to provide a loving home for a dog in need until they find their fur-ever family. It's not only a fantastic way to give back, but it also helps you discover what kind of furry friend suits your lifestyle best.

Fostering allows you to try living with different breeds, energy levels, and personality traits. Are you an outdoor enthusiast who wants a hiking buddy, or do you live in a small space where a pint-sized pup is a perfect fit? Fostering helps you find the ideal match before getting a dog of your own.

A person holding up a black and white medium-sized dog.

For our #BarkbusFamily in Southern California and Dallas, contact these rescues to find out if you can foster with them and mention that Barkbus sent you!

Los Angeles, California

Our favorite Los Angeles rescues include:

  • Foxy and the Hounds. This shelter is committed to saving and rehabilitating dogs from all backgrounds, giving them a second chance at life. 
  • Roadogs and Rescue. This compassionate rescue center provides comprehensive veterinary care for medical bulldogs and puppies with birth defects. 
  • Wags & Walks. A devoted non-profit, Wags & Walks rescues dogs in need with the aim of eventually finding them loving homes. 

Orange County, California

Our favorite Orange County rescues include:

  • Barks of Love. This 100% no-kill shelter is run entirely by a team of dedicated volunteers.
  • Friends of Newport Animal Shelter. They're Newport Beach's first municipal animal shelter.
  • Priceless Pets. This incredible organization rescues homeless pets from open-access shelters and works hard to find them forever homes.

San Diego, California

Our favorite San Diego rescues include:

  • The Animal Pad. This wonderful shelter has rescued thousands of dogs in California and Mexico.
  • A Way Home for Dogs. Focused on reuniting lost dogs with their families, this shelter also aims to find a home for dogs that have no family to go back to.
  • The Barking Lot. In partnership with a dog rescue in Thailand, they fly in survivors of the illegal dog meat trade every month.
  • Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego County. They specialize in rescuing and rehoming Chihuahuas and other small breeds.
  • Helen Woodward Animal Center. In addition to adoption services, this center also offers educational and therapeutic programs for people and pets.
  • Labrador Rescuers of San Diego. This shelter specializes in rescuing and rehabilitating Labs in need of loving homes.
  • Maltese & More Rescue. This all-volunteer organization is devoted to the rescue of Maltese and other small breeds.

Dallas, Texas

Our favorite Dallas rescues include:

  • Dallas Pets Alive. This incredible shelter is on a mission to make North Texas a no-kill zone.
  • Doodle Rock Rescue. A 100% volunteer-based rescue, this non-profit organization rescues and rehomes neglected and abandoned doodles. 
  • Hearts & Bones. This foster-based rescue works to match families with dogs in need of forever homes.

Barkbus Is Here For You

If you decide to grow your family with a pup, Barkbus is here to make your new dog’s grooming experience a walk in the park! With our mobile dog grooming service, your pup will enjoy one-on-one pampering without the stress of cages and crates. We come straight to your doorstep, providing a comfortable grooming experience from the comfort of your neighborhood. Book an appointment with Barkbus and let us shower your canine companion with the love and care they deserve. After all, a well-groomed dog is a happy dog!


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