As dog lovers, we all know just how much good our furry friends bring to the world. If you've ever wondered how you can pay it forward by doing a little good of your own, this is your chance: Give a rescue dog a "new leash on life." According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 3.3 million dogs enter U.S. shelters every year — which means you have plenty of choices.

As with any new addition to your family, there are plenty of things to consider when adopting a rescue dog. Today, we're here to help guide you through the process so you can find and adopt a furry friend who will always be by your side.

Let's get started!

Why Do Dogs End Up in the Shelter?

If you're thinking about bringing a rescue or shelter dog into your life, it's important to understand why these pooches are in need of an animal shelter or rescue facility in the first place.

Although some people assume that only "bad dogs" go to the animal shelter or local humane society, that's simply not the case. There are plenty of reasons why a pet might be in one of these facilities, often through no fault of their own. Here are just a few examples:

  • A dog is lost and never claimed.
  • A breeder has puppies they are unable to sell or keep.
  • An owner develops new allergies or health concerns that would be exacerbated by dog fur.
  • An owner has to move to a location that doesn't allow pets.
  • An owner passes away and their family can't take care of their dog.

What does that mean for you? Simple: Although shelter or rescue dogs may have certain behavioral issues, you don't have to assume they're "bad." In fact, many facilities perform extensive assessments to determine whether dogs are comfortable around children and other pets, friendly toward strangers and more, which means you may get more information when adopting a rescue dog than when you buy a puppy from a breeder.

Before Adopting a Shelter or Rescue Dog

It's always exciting to start researching toys and looking up names for your new furry friend, but there are a few things to consider before you bring home your shelter or rescue dog:


Timing is important when it comes to pet adoption. Are you about to move, start a new job or change your life in any other big way? If so, are you sure you'll have enough time to help a shelter or rescue dog settle into their new home?

Remember, it's important to be especially patient with rescue dogs. There may be unique challenges or setbacks depending on the dog's history, which means your furry friend is counting on you to help them settle into their new environment.


Another thing to consider during dog adoption is age. A puppy or young dog may have had less training and will likely have more energy, while older dogs may be more relaxed and could have medical issues related to their age. Keep in mind, though, that you may not be able to find out a shelter or rescue dog's exact age.


Often, shelter or rescue dogs fall into the "mixed breed" category. However, if possible, it's smart to find out what breeds are in a dog's background before adopting. That way, you can learn more about size, lifespan, nutritional needs, exercise requirements and medical problems common in the breed.


There are plenty of costs associated with adopting a shelter or rescue dog. Fees include the initial adoption, paperwork and immunizations — not to mention the lifelong costs of pet ownership like food, grooming, bedding and more. It's important to consider this element before bringing any new animal into your home.

However, when you adopt instead of buying from a breeder, you might actually save some money. That's because many shelters and rescues provide microchip registration and pet license tags as part of the adoption process (sometimes with a small fee), making it easier and less expensive to bring your new dog home. The shelter or rescue may provide other services, too, so make sure to ask what's included in adoption.

The Right Fit

At the end of the day, one thing matters more than every other detail: Does this dog feel like your dog? Is there an immediate connection? Is it love at first sight? Many shelters or rescue facilities give you the opportunity to play with pets or take them for walks before adoption, so make the most of this time and introduce your pooch to the rest of your family (especially children or other pets).

Preparing for Your New Rescue

Once you decide you're ready to adopt, it's time to start getting ready for your new dog. Here are a few things you'll need to make your pooch feel right at home:

collar icon

Halters, leashes and collars:

New home, new accessories! Welcome your new family member with a collar, leash and halter to keep them safe at home and on walks.

Shop Leashes & Collars heart icon

Vet visits:

Shelters generally update your new pet's vaccinations and perform health checks, but you still might want to head to your vet to make sure there are no other concerns you need to keep an eye on.

Learn about VIP PetCare dog bowl icon


Dogs of different ages and breeds have unique nutritional needs. Ask your vet about the best foods and snacks for your furry friend.

Shop Food dog bed icon


Beds and mats are a great way to make shelter and rescue dogs feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. It may take several days or even weeks for your pooch to learn that this is their spot, but with a little patience, they'll be cozied up in no time.

Shop Bedding dog toys icon


Every dog wants a chew toy or stuffed animal to call their own, right? Just remember to pick toys that are appropriate for your new dog's age and chew strength.

Shop Toys grooming equipment icon

Grooming equipment:

Although most animal shelters and rescue facilities take good care of their pets, it never hurts to welcome a dog into your home with a quick bath. Stock up on shampoo, brushes, toothpaste and other essentials to keep your furry friend looking, feeling and smelling their best.

Shop Grooming dog training icon

Training aids:

In some cases, shelter or rescue dogs may need training to help them learn (or relearn) their manners. Do a little research and get training aids to make the process as simple as possible.

Shop Training Aids spray bottle icon

Waste control:

Don't forget to grab all the supplies you'll need for cleaning up after your new dog.

Shop Waste Control

Give Your Furry Friend a Warm Welcome

Dog adoption is the beginning of a true adventure — and it's your chance to show dogs the same love they give to us. To make the most of this opportunity, just remember to do a little research and prepare yourself, your home and your family for the new addition.

You bring the love, and we'll bring the supplies. Visit your nearest Pet Supermarket today for everything your adopted dog could ever want, from treats and toys to food and bedding.


Summer Activities for Dogs

Safe, Affordable Veterinary Care

Safe, Affordable Veterinary Care

We've partnered with VIP Petcare to bring you a variety of preventative pet care services, all administered by a licensed veterinarian.


Free Shipping on orders of $49+