Dog adoption: How to find your fur-ever friend

Remember when, as kids, we dreamed of having superpowers? Invisibility. Sonic speed. ūüí® The ability to fly! Well, gone are those fantastical days, but adopting a dog can be your adult superhero moment.

Think about it. You're giving a special doggo a much-deserved second chance at life‚ÄĒand a loving family. You're helping put an end to unethical puppy mills. And you're supporting an all-around good cause.

Adopters assemble! (Sorry couldn't resist... ūüėĀ)

Where to adopt: Animal shelters vs dog rescues vs the pound

Know the phrase "same same, but different"? It's perfect for this scenario! Because while all of the above essentially do the same thing, how they do it varies. And those minor differences could influence where you choose to adopt‚ÄĒespecially as a first-timer.


  • They are non-profit organisations that take in strays and accept surrenders from the public.
  • They have kennel facilities, but many are overcrowded due to rising rates of pet abandonment.
  • Shelters evaluate health and temperament before clearing dogs for adoption.
  • You can meet several potential matches (in one place) until you find The One.


  • Rescue groups are volunteer and donation-driven.
  • They offer a safe haven for abandoned animals at risk of euthanasia in other welfare facilities.
  • Some have kennels, but most rely on private foster care/volunteers. (Advantage: They get to see the dog's personality in a real-world setting.)
  • The adoption process can be strict.

City pound

  • The city pound offers temporary shelter for lost, surrendered, and abandoned pets in the community.
  • They typically receive local government funding to cover operational expenses.
  • Animal health and behavioural screening services can vary.
  • Some allow direct adoptions; others partner with shelters and rescue groups for rehoming.

Find local shelters with this Australia-wide rescue directory.

Expert dog adoption tips

Before you pick up the phone or fill out application forms, please take a moment to read through these insider tips with practical suggestions.

Tip #1: Assess your situation in life

Owning a dog is a lifetime commitment. I repeat: LIFETIME. That can be anywhere from 7 to 15 years of walks, baths, snuggles, and (drum roll, please) pet-related bills, regardless of the economy!

First up on the dog adoption agenda is to be realistic about your situation.

  • Are you financially secure? Pet supplies are one thing. Training and medical expenses are a whole other ball game!
  • What's your housing situation? Are pets allowed? Is it pet-friendly?
  • Are you emotionally and physically prepared for all the duties of dog ownership? Think housebreaking, crate training, obedience training, and more.
  • What's your home life like? Do you have very young kids? Are you caring for frail elderly?
  • Can you take responsibility for a dog with particular needs? For example, one with health or behavioural issues?

Tip #2: Don't judge a dog by his (adorable) mug

If appearance is your top criterion for choosing a rescue dog, you're on the wrong track. Focus on finding the right fit for your lifestyle and personality; consider age, size, breed, energy level, and temperament instead.

  • Sure, that Great Pyrenees is a fluffy little pupper now. But can you still manage him when he's a back-breaking 73kg?
  • Prefer spending your downtime binge-watching true crime series? Dogs that need plenty of physical activity/mental stimulation may not be for you.
  • Live in an apartment? Noisy breeds like Huskies (and their spine-tingling howls) will 100% land you in hot water with the neighbours!

Tip #3: Honesty is the best policy

Divorcing your new-found dog would suck. That's why animal shelters aim to set you up for success, but it's a shared responsibility reliant on honesty. Translation: Don't lie on the application form.

Tip #4: Have your priorities straight

Dogs are living, breathing, beautiful creatures‚ÄĒnot furniture. There are no refunds or exchanges. So keep these reminders top of mind.

  • Don't pick a particular breed because it's a status symbol or for its aspirational value.
  • Be receptive to suggestions and listen to what the experts say‚ÄĒthey mean well!
  • Thoroughly research the breed before you sign on the dotted line.

Tip #5: Ask the right questions

Dog adoption is a two-way street. That means you get to interview shelter staff, too! Here are a few questions worth jotting down.

  • How does he behave around other dogs, children, and cats?
  • Is he housebroken?
  • Does he know any commands?
  • Does he have any known medical conditions?
  • Has he shown any behavioural problems?

Also, get to the nitty-gritty behind the marketese of adoption profiles. "Likes being a single child" might imply territorial or aggression issues. "Happy to be your shadow" could mean he has severe separation anxiety. You can't always take descriptions at face value, so ask now or forever hold your peace.

Is your dog a rescue? Hit us up on our socials with photos of your little munchkins! We'd love to hear your successful dog adoption stories.


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