5 Signs You’re Ready to Adopt a Puppy, Plus a Supply Checklist

Think You’re Ready to Adopt a Puppy?

Since my beloved golden retriever died a few years ago, we’ve been thinking about getting a puppy.

We went back and forth for months, but when an adorable allergy-friendly small puppy was looking for a home, it was the nudge we needed.

We got a puppy!

Now we have a friend to take on all the walking trails around town and someone to get a pup-bowl for when we go for ice cream.

For us, having a dog means having another member of the family. He’s super sweet and portable and can go to the beach with us and even up north when we hit Traverse City in the summer.

If you’re considering a new pet now, it’s time to do some soul searching!

Please do not get a pet as momentary entertainment. Pet ownership is overwhelming as the puppy becomes an adult. You will need a dog or cat sitter for the next decade, and will need to schedule regular vet appointments, etc.

We Did Not Adopt a Puppy on a Whim

At first, I wasn’t ready to get a new dog because it was too soon after Sadie died. And then “too soon” morphed into “our lives are too busy for a dog.”

Years went by.

The kids are older now and they truly want a dog. They regularly begged for a dog and “adopt a puppy” shows up on every birthday list. (To be fair, “get a pony” was on the list for a few years and I never gave in to that one.)

I had to be real with myself about what getting a puppy would mean before we could be comfortable committing to the responsibility that comes with getting a puppy.

Just because it sounds like a good idea, and even though I have all of the right reasons, it still doesn’t mean that it’s time to run out and get a puppy for everyone. We held off for YEARS because we know how big of a deal it is to get a puppy. 

5 Signs You’re Ready to Adopt a Puppy

Being able to fawn over an adorable, chubby ball of fur is not the sole requirement to adopt a puppy.

You’ve got to be in this for the long haul. You’ve got to be cool with owning an adult dog. (Because that’s where all this puppy business leads…)

Here are 5 signs that you’re ready to adopt a puppy.

1 – You Have time for Training

Do you have time for house training? What about obedience training?

It’s cute right now when the puppy tries to climb onto the couch, but do you want a full grown creature on your couch all the time? Do you want it jumping on your great-grandma and bruising her legs when she walks in the door?

Spending the time and money on a good dog obedience school is critical to a well-behaved pet and a stress-free owner.

2 – You’re Home Enough for the Dog to Have a Life

People who are gone 12-14 hours a day can’t really give a dog a good life. If you want to adopt a puppy, you need to be around for the puppy to be in your life.

Working from home has become popular, and if you’ve got little kids at home, chances home there’s someone around for that puppy.

How about when the puppy is an adult? Will your life be different in five years, and not good for a dog?

Family with young kids decided to adopt a puppy and are in love.

3 – You Can Afford Neutering, Vet and Boarding Fees

First, you will need money saved for spaying or neutering. That’s an absolute must for any responsible pet owner. These run $150-200.

Pet boarding fees are significant, so if you like to travel, you need to ensure you can afford safe, reliable boarding for your puppy.

Pet boarding fees range from $25-50/night per dog, and can go up from there if your dog has special needs. Multiply that by a 10 day vacation, and that’s no small amount of change!

Vet bills come around yearly, at a minimum, and are usually a few hundred dollars for a typical visit, which includes the vet fee, immunizations, flea and tic prevention, and any other items your dog might need.

And if your dog gets sick or injured, do you have the money to cover that?

4 – You Have Experience Caring for Animals

You don’t need dog experience to adopt a puppy, but jumping into your first foray at pet ownership with a dog might be too much.

I you’ve had cats, fish, snakes, birds or any other type of pet, you might be a great candidate for puppy ownership.

You understand the time and energy that goes into having a pet. You remember what you loved about it, and what you didn’t.

5 – You Have Space in Your Life to Care for Another Living Creature

Many people get a dog and assume it’ll just lay in the corner and ask for the occasional pat on the head.


Remember the adorable puppy in the feature image above? He’s 6 now. He’s 80 lbs. He belongs to our senior editor and he is her family’s absolute favorite creature on the planet.

He also pulls like a maniac on walks. He’s an anxious mess on car rides for family vacation.

And he loves to bark at squirrels like it’s nobody’s business. They have to let him out several times a day to pee and bark at said squirrels. And then chase him around the yard half the time so he will come in and stop barking.

He destroys expensive dog toys in about 15 minutes, and they are constantly tripping over the ones he doesn’t ruin.

His dog food is pricey, too, because he has skin allergies.

The dude is expensive and requires everyone’s attention.

But they wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you would, though, you should rethink getting a puppy until you’re ready.

Before you Adopt a Puppy, Consider Fostering

One option that didn’t immediately occur to me was fostering a puppy or dog.

Instead of signing up for a lifetime of pet ownership, you can foster to get a dose of puppy love.

Fostering requires an application process. Local places with foster programs include

My friend’s daughter was obsessed with owning a bunny, so my friend fostered a bunny through the Humane Society.

Her daughter was in charge of the bunny for two weeks. After the second day, her daughter no longer wanted a bunny. It was way more work than she realized and her bedroom smelled like a barn.

Sherman was super cute. And super exhausting.

Fostering is a perfect option for those considering pet ownership, because you can test drive the responsibility.

It’s also a great option for families who can’t commit to full-time pet ownership but love animals.

You can foster pets as you are available, and plan vacations around your fostering so you don’t have to board a pet. Often, vet bills are covered while you are fostering a pet, too.

I Want to Adopt a Puppy. Where can I Find One?

There are three main ways you can adopt a puppy or dog in West Michigan.

Adopting a pet is usually a long process, whether you go through a breeder, shelter or foster organization. (A responsible dog breeder or rescuer will have an application process, and often even home visits.)

Here are the three common ways people adopt puppies in West Michigan:

1) Adopt a Purebred from a Reputable Breeder

Our last dog was a Golden Retriever and she was the sweetest dog ever. Good dogs come from good homes – if we go for an AKC dog, we’ll check to see we’re working with a responsible breeder.

The most reputable breeders will offer to take the dog back if it doesn’t work out (no money back, but they care about their animals and want them in forever homes).

Breeders should be knowledgeable about the character traits of their dogs and ask that you will be able to accommodate the specific needs of that breed.

Some will participate in programs like the AKC’s Bred With H.E.A.R.T. Program. If the breeder doesn’t even ask where you live or what kind of accommodations you have for a dog, that’s a red flag.

Breeders don’t sell dogs at a moment’s notice.

Responsible, reputable breeders often don’t have puppies available until months or weeks out. Litters are often spoken for before the mother has even given birth. And then you have to wait at least 10 weeks before the pup can come home. 

But sometimes, you may just find that golden puppy who hasn’t been claimed yet! Also, a breeder may occasionally have an older dog that’s looking for a home.

2) Rescue a Dog From an Animal Shelter

The Humane Society of West Michigan is a great place for adoptions. 

Here’s where you can find their adoptable dogs.

Kent County Animal Shelter is offering dog adoption and they also accept foster families for their current shelter pets.

Sometimes foster families opt to adopt the dog they are fostering. Other times they can find a match for that dog through friends and family (while practicing safe social distancing).

You can look for KCAS pets through Petfinder. 

3) Adopt a Puppy or Dog from a Foster Organization

Foster volunteers are passionate about the dogs they care for and are strict about who adopts their puppies and dogs.

Foster volunteers want to be sure that you are the right family for this dog; they ardently seek permanent homes for their fosters. 

Because of this, many have an extensive vetting process that includes home visits. 

Foster organizations also require that these pets are spayed or neutered before being rehomed. 

Here are some of our favorite foster dog organizations. They all have different situations during the pandemic, so check their Facebook pages for up-to-date info before reaching out to them. 

Puppy Supply Checklist

Here’s what we (mostly) put in our Amazon cart yesterday as we’re preparing for our puppy.

(Thanks to the Liz, editor of kzookids.com, for telling me exactly what she bought for her new pup!)

  • crate
  • toys
  • leash & collar
  • food and water bowls
  • dog ID tag
  • puppy treats
  • chew toys (puppies chew a LOT – they’re teething, not being naughty)
  • brush
  • floor cleaner for accidents (we bought Nature’s Miracle brand)
  • dog shampoo
  • dog bed
  • bag carrier to take puppy to the vet while young (if you won’t have helpers in the car to hold the puppy)
  • baby gates (to keep the puppy out of certain areas of the house)
  • kibble container

A Few Other Things You’ll Need for Your Puppy

  • A Vet for Your Puppy: Vets are very busy right now – if you’re getting a puppy, call to set up your first appointment as soon as you know the puppy will be joining your family.
  • Puppy Kindergarten: Socializing and training your puppy is important. There are often waitlists for these classes. Call now to make an appointment.

Think You’re Ready to Adopt a Puppy Now?

If you decide to go for it, leave us a comment telling us where you found your puppy and when it’s coming home.

If you decided to hold off, we want to hear about that, too.

Good luck with your puppy adventure!

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1 thought on “5 Signs You’re Ready to Adopt a Puppy, Plus a Supply Checklist”

  1. I think this is a great idea! Our child also asks for a dog as a Christmas present and we plan to take a dog from the shelter. And this will definitely be a better gift than a game console or computer games

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