Hot Market: 9 Tips for Adopting a Dog During the Pandemic

We’re home all day…every day…Groundhog’s day…what day is it? And we’re looking for our next hobby (raise a paw if you finished Netflix back in May). With more time to train and bond – not to mention some newfound loneliness – the pandemic may feel like a perfect time to add a dog to your family. 

You’re not alone. But if you’ve tried to adopt a doggo (or 20) over the past few months, you know the competition is fur-ce. Some organizations report that they’re receiving hundreds of applications for each adoptable dog. 

So what’s a desperate wannabe adopter to do? We dug up nine tips for scoring a new canine companion in this “seller’s market.”

  1. Become a foster. Many rescues give fosters first dibs on adopting their dog, so you won’t have to elbow out other applicants. This test drive also gives you tons of info about whether the pooch is right for your family long-term. And woof to the wise: be nice to the folks at your rescue. Things might take an extra day or few given pandemic protocols and everypawdy is doin’ the best they can!
  2. …or hit up your friends who foster. You know who they are. Now’s the time to stalk their social media or shoot ‘em a text to see if they have a pup behind the scenes that you can apply for before they even hit the website. Fosters are trained in the art of matchmaking – they’ll know whether the dog taking up temporary residence on their sofa is a good fit for you. (And they’ll love getting to visit their former charge at your house.)
  3. Adopt an adult or senior. Just like the “before” times, puppies are in higher demand than older dogs right now. And young’ns are bound to add more chaos to this already crazy era. Leave the puppies to other people, and adopt a dog as lazy as you are.
  4. Get ready to hit “refresh” on Petfinder. If you want in on a specific adoptable pet, you gotta act fast. Two days? Too late. Go dogs, go! 
  5. Ace your adoption application. Rescues aren’t looking for perfection, but they will give priority to folks committed to giving their adoptee a slice of the good life. Tell them about your plan to give your dog the world. And be sure to complete every detail the application asks for (references, veterinarian, landlord permission, etc.), or you could be overlooked. 
  6. Don’t give up. Go into this process with the expectation that you won’t scoop up the first pup you apply for. Apply for dogs at more than one rescue, and let each org know you’re interested in future dogs that fit your application. 
  7. Lower your standards. Consider a pooch with a few flaws. After all, you have time right now to shine ‘em up a bit. A dog with a counter-surfing addiction will save you from eating that second bag of BBQ chips yourself; a senior who can barely see can’t judge you for attending your Zoom conference pantsless.
  8. ...but not too far. Don’t let this competitive scene cause you to panic and adopt a not-right-for-you dog. Be honest with yourself and the rescue about behaviors you aren’t going to be able to manage long-term – the last thing overworked rescues need right now are returned dogs.
  9. Consider waiting til after the pandemic. Speaking of returned dogs, some of the pups adopted during quarantine are bound to end up back in rescues and shelters once everyone returns to work. (Sigh.) Then you’ll have your pick of the litter. While you wait, consider supporting rescues with a donation: all the feels, none of the commitment. 

Tell us your pandemic adoption experiences in the comments, SWDers!

Gus, adopted from A Rotta Love Plus in May, is proof that tip #1 works. Above: Chloe, a pandemic pup scooped up from Pet Haven with tip #2.  

Woof-out to our Facebook groups for contributing some of these tips. Sniff out our award-winning newsletter and Instagram, and join us on Facebook and Twitter.

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2 thoughts on “Hot Market: 9 Tips for Adopting a Dog During the Pandemic

  1. Kelly G

    I got lucky with SecondHand Hounds. And almost three years after losing my Oreo, we got Bandit. Who lives up to his name. He steals hearts. I started my search in March when hubby said he was ready. Took until August, but, it was meant to take that long.

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