Adoption Series Part 2: So you’re ready to adopt a dog

Psssst! Are you sure you’re ready to adopt a dog? You may want to check out part 1 first:

When should you start looking for a dog? 

Put simply: when you are ready to bring one home. It’s okay if you need a day or two to get supplies together because it typically takes a couple days to process your application, but if you won’t be moving into a place that allows pets for a while or aren’t able to take them home soon for another reason, it’s probably best to wait. If you come in early you are bound to fall in love with someone, and it would not fair to the dog to leave them waiting at the shelter until you are able to bring them home, which is why we don’t hold animals for extended periods of time. Trust us, there will always be another super friendly dog that you will bond with. It’s also a good idea to get moved into your place first. You don’t want your new dog escaping while you are trying to move stuff in, and on top of the fact that moving is stressful. It’s best to bring your new pet home when you can spend time with them, and ideally when things will be calmer, which is not typically the case when you are moving. 

If you rent: Even if your lease allows pets be sure to check with your landlord before coming to the shelter. Many people come in and get attached to an animal only to find out their landlord doesn’t allow that breed. We can’t say we agree with it, but many landlords discriminate against certain breeds of dogs.

Things to keep in mind when looking for a dog:

    • Landlord Requirements
      • As we said before if you rent make sure you check if your landlord has any specifications on size or breed. Some places are starting to pass laws against breed discrimination, but unfortunately that is not the case yet in Michigan. 
    • Energy level
      • Think about the activity level at your house. 
        • If high energy dogs do not have an outlet to get that energy out, it often translates to destructive behavior. If you go for a run every day or partake in another physical activity where you can bring your dog maybe you want a higher energy dog. 
        • If you don’t have as much time to wear out your dog or you’re happier just taking a couple walks a day, maybe you want a dog with less energy. Keep in mind even lower energy dogs still need to go for walks or get some playtime, so they stay healthy.
    • Do they need to get along with other animals? 
      • If you need a dog that gets along with other animals, please let the shelter staff know right away! It’s so sad when people fall in love with a dog only to find out they don’t get along with other animals in the home. 
      • Do you have other dogs or frequently have them over? Any dog living in the same home will have to meet the dog you are looking to adopt. Also keep this in mind if you are considering adding another dog to your family down the line. If you adopt a dog who doesn’t like other dogs and you get another dog down the line, it isn’t fair for them to lose their home because you got another dog. Some people think if you get a puppy any dog will get used to them, but this is often not the case. 
      • Do you have any cats or other small animals the dog will need to get along with? We want to make sure all the members of your household are happy with your new canine friend or at the very least won’t have to fear for their life. Some dogs are particularly susceptible to prey drive, they thus should not live with smaller animals.
    • Do they need to get along with kids?
      • This is also something you should let the staff know right away, so we can show you dogs who are okay with kids.
      • Some dogs are nervous around children. Especially when young kids are involved, we want to make sure you find a dog who will do well with all the people they will be living with or spending a lot of time around. 
    • Will they need to do well meeting a lot of new people or with crowds?
      • Some dogs have not had an easy life. This can make them less trusting of people. If you often have people over or want to spend a lot of time out around different people, we want to make sure you end up with a more social dog who will do well in these situations or that you are willing to spend the time it takes to work with them. Some dogs are simply happier being home bodies and having their own space, so we want to make sure we match up dog and owner well. 
    • Breed
      • Do some breed research if you are looking at a particular breed. Also remember just because it is typical of a breed, that does not necessarily mean it is true for all dogs of that breed. Also even if a breed tends to be easier to train, ALL DOGS NEED TRAINING AND SOCIALIZING! 
        • Keep in mind if you are looking at a herding breed, they often will nip at the heels of small kids, which is something you may want to consider. 
        • Working breeds and any dog with high energy will need a way to get their energy out and something to keep them from getting bored when you aren’t home. They can develop destructive habits if that is not the case. You may not want to get this sort of dog if you don’t have a lot of time to spend with them.
        • Breeds that tend to be more dominant like huskies, bully breeds, and shepherds will likely need extra training. They tend to have big personalities and need a strong owner to teach them how they should behave.
        • Small breeds can often be nervous and can be nippy, so they may not be the best choice for people with small children or who want a super social dog. 
        • Again remember not all of the above are true for all dogs, so make sure you talk to the staff about each individual dog’s personality. 
    • Size 
      • A mastiff might not be a good idea in a small apartment.
      • Some landlords also have stipulations about how large of a dog they allow.
    • Grooming needs
      • Some dogs need lots of grooming, especially if they have a longer coat. Some may also need to go to a professional groomer, which is an expense that should be taken into account. 
    • Age
      • While puppies are cute, they require a lot of training. Do you have the time to house train a stubborn puppy and teach them what they are allowed to chew and what they aren’t allowed to chew? They also require a LOT of socializing.
      • Senior pets (depending on the dog) tend to be a little more calm, and they often have better manners than puppies. That’s not to say they won’t need any training, but they tend to need less than a puppy. 
    • Off leash
      • Disclaimer: even a dog who has been good about staying in their yard for years can spot a deer, a squirrel, a snowmobile, or something else that they will go running after. On top of the potential that they will get lost, they don’t understand the concept of looking left and right before crossing a road, and it is so easy for them to get hit by a car. We get in so many strays who “never have left the yard before” or “always have stayed with me in the past.” We don’t tend to encourage people to let their dogs off leash and Michigan law requires you to have your dog on a leash when it is off your property.
      • Hounds and many other breeds have a tendency of wandering. If you insist on a dog that will be okay off leash, make sure it’s not a dog who will take off at their first chance.
    • Gender, especially if you already have a dog
      • Some dogs do better with one gender over the other. For example, many female dogs do not like other female dogs. Dominance plays a big role in this, so it is really dependent on the dog, but it is something you may need to keep in mind. 

Another important note on looking for dogs: 

It’s often not a good idea to look for a pet for another person. If they are actively looking for a pet, and you see one you think they might like, by all means let them know about that dog, but if they are not looking for a pet, do not push them to get one. Just because you think that a pet might be a good friend for them does not mean that they are ready for the responsibility of a pet. You also need to consider if the person is able to care for the pet. If they are elderly they need to be able to handle taking the dog out for walks, and they need to be able to properly care for whatever type of animal they get including grooming, trips to the vet, and even knowing when vet care is required. You don’t want to push someone to get a dog. They might feel like they have to get a dog because you went through all this effort to find the “perfect pet,” even if they don’t want a pet or are not able to care for that particular pet. 

Adoption Process at CCHS:

You are welcome to come meet the dogs and spend time with them during our open hours. Remember closed-toed shoes are recommended if you would like to spend time with a dog, and required if you want to take one for a walk. You will need to fill out an adoption application, which you can either do online ahead of time or at the shelter once you have found a dog you like. It usually takes us a couple days to process your application, then we will contact you to tell you if you were approved. Dog adoption fees are $90 and puppies are $100. They are all spayed or neutered, up to date on vaccines, and microchipped. We will also give you a sample sized bag of food, so you can feed them half and half to get them switched over to whatever type of food you would like to feed without tummy upset.


One of the biggest things to remember when looking for a dog is to be honest with not only the staff but also with yourself about what you are looking for and able to handle. We know the dogs pretty well and can usually suggest the one that would be best for your situation. Also remember if you chose not to go through a shelter, make sure you go to a reputable breeder. Do your research first, and please spay and neuter.


Now that you’re familiar with the adoption process, check out this post on getting ready to bring home your new friend: