Adopting a rescue animal is, in my opinion, an incredibly wonderful experience. There are so many reasons to adopt but the actual process might take some time and it might be a while until your pet feels truly at home. Here are some tips for the adoption process.

Tip #1 – It may take some time to find the right pet.

It can be heartbreaking to not walk away with a pet the first time you go to the shelter or have something fall through in the adoption process. But taking the time to find exactly the right dog, cat, or another animal for you will truly make a difference.

During this process, keep in mind what exactly you want in a pet. Do you want an indoor/outdoor cat, a barn cat, or an exclusively indoor cat? Do you need an animal that’s good with other animals or have you considered adopting a bonded pair? Are you willing to go to training classes if the rescue organization asks? Unfortunately, animals aren’t interchangeable and each one will have their own issues or needs. All of these questions play into what you might need in a pet, which can mean you might have to pass on a really cute animal.

Having to say no (or hearing no) might be incredibly heartbreaking but its really important to remember that the goal for both you and the rescue organization is finding the right pet and the right home.

Tip #2 – Patience is key, even after you bring your pet home.

When my neighbor brought Rosie home, the rescue group told her to take a picture of her on the first night and when she’s been there for one, three, and six months. The goal of this practice is to see just how much she has changed while settling in. And it’s been amazing to watch Rosie’s growth over the last six months! As she’s settled in, her personality and confidence have really started to shine through.

While you might want to be immediate best friends with your new pet, it’s important to remember that coming home with you is a huge change for the animal that they might not fully understand on the first few nights.

Tip #3 – Immediately set up a schedule and realistic expectations.

Many dogs do so well with a daily schedule so having one can help smoothe their transition. This can be having a set time for breakfast/dinner and for walks/bathroom breaks. And plan on a quiet, calm time during the first few days.

Understanding an animal’s body language is also key during this time (and throughout their lives!). That’s important not just for you but for any family members, roommates, or children living in or visiting the house. Invading an animal’s personal space or disregarding their body language can really only add stress to all parties involved. This is important because it can be incredibly tempting to immediately snuggle or play with your new pet but they may need some time to just settle in.

Tip #4 – Make sure you have some understanding of what you’re getting into.

There is so much about being a pet owner that you might not realize when getting your first pet. You’ll need toys, food, water and food dishes, litter boxes, beds, and so much more. Finding the right vet for you and your animal is vital and making sure you have space, time, and resources is also key.

Different animals have different needs, which applies to both species and individual animals. Horses, llamas, chickens, and goats are all herd animals and will need to be in a group to be happy. Those animals will also need plenty of outdoor space with secure fencing and housing, two things to have before bringing the animal(s) home. Some dogs and cats might need to be the only pet in the house because of behavioral issues. These are all important things to consider before adopting.


The adoption process can be overwhelming at times but being prepared and knowing what you’re getting into can make such a difference. Additionally, it’s a journey you don’t have to go on alone! Many folks at all sorts of rescue organizations are more than willing to help out and there are numerous resources, both on and offline, to help you.


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