Pet Adoption Tips

Bringing a new pet into your home is a big commitment, make sure you and your family are ready.
Related To:


Many of the tips have been provided by the North Shore Animal League America.

  • Do your homework: Know what kind of pet will be right for your lifestyle. A pet's size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision.
  • Make sure everyone in your household agrees with the decision to adopt.
  • Food, toys, vaccines and vet visits cost money. Make sure you have the finances to take care of a pet.
  • Visit the animal shelter several times before making up your mind. Learn about various breeds and speak with an adoption counselor for guidance.
  • Mixed-breed dogs offer several advantages over purebreds. When you adopt a mixed breed, you benefit from the combined traits of two or more breeds. You also get a dog that's likely to be free of genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs. When you adopt a mixed breed, you adopt a totally unique companion.
  • While you're at the shelter, keep in mind that it is a stressful place for any animal. Cats and dogs who are usually quite social may be frightened or passive while at the shelter. Quite often, an animal’s true colors won't show until he's away from other animals and the shelter environment.
  • Young dogs usually require much more training and supervision than more mature dogs. If you lack the time or patience to housetrain your pup or correct problems like chewing and jumping, an adult dog may be a better choice.
  • Schedule a visit to the vet before you even bring your new pet home.
  • Buy food, toys, bedding, treats, plus a collar and pet tag before your new pet comes home.
  • Have the house and yard ready before you bring your new pet home.
  • Do not expect instant devotion. You are a stranger to your new pet and he or she is in a strange place. Since they are unsure of your intentions, too much attention can be perceived as confrontational, especially to a frightened animal.
  • Some animals may feel overwhelmed at first and want to hide or escape. This is especially true of cats, whereas a dog may become defensive.
  • Provide your pet with his own area, a safe haven where he can go and be left alone. This should not be an isolated area such as a basement. Never confine a dog behind closed doors.
  • Cats should initially be confined in a quiet room with a closed door and a window to look out. This will provide a stress-free environment where the cat can become accustomed to the smells and sounds of the household. He should have his food, water and bed on one side of the room and the litter box on the other side.
  • Do not allow a cat to go outside; a dog should not go out unsupervised for the first few weeks. Be aware of any small spaces in your home where a cat can become trapped.
  • Make sure you have your pet spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering will ensure that your pet never adds to the millions of animals born each year who never find a good home. It'll also help him or her live a longer, healthier life.
  • Keep the phone number of a 24-hour veterinarian handy.

Next Up

Introducing New Pets

8 tips for maintaining your peaceable kingdom

How to Keep Pets Safe From Weather

Follow these veterinarian tips for protecting your pets during summer and winter.

How to Keep Pets Off of Furniture

Follow these tips to keep furry family members out of your favorite seat.

9 Tips for a Chic, Pet-Friendly Home

Your home can be beautiful and pet-friendly, too, with these pointers from design experts.

It's Hot Out There! 7 Ways to Keep Pets Cool This Summer

Keep your furry BFFs sun-safe with these tips and cool-down tricks.

How to Eliminate Pet Odors

Check out these 6 tips for keeping pets smelling sweet.

How to Pet-Proof Your Garden

Learn how to keep the peace between your garden and pets with these 9 simple tips.

Puppy-Proofing Tips

Puppies are adventurous and prone to getting into trouble. Here are some ways to make your home safe and puppy-ready.

How to Host the Perfect Party for Your Pets

Hosting a party just for your dog or cat can be fun if you plan ahead. Here are our tips to make your pet-friendly party a success.

3 Don'ts for Living Stylishly With a Pet

Don't let your house go to the dogs and the cats. Follow these tips and you can have a beautiful home that's pet-friendly.

Go Shopping

Refresh your home with stylish products handpicked by HGTV editors.

Watch Live TV

Don't miss your favorite shows. Live stream HGTV now.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.