Skip to main content

Want a successful adoption application? Follow these tips from Toronto rescues

Some prospective pet parents are faced with a harsh reality if they apply to adopt a dog or cat without much prior knowledge. Not only is an uninformed applicant less likely to be chosen, but there are more reasons than ever why an application may be rejected.

In fact, a rejected application is fairly common. There may be multiple homes that are interested in the same pet, or the shelter may determine that it’s not a good match. That’s okay — it happens! Take advantage of these dog adoption application tips from the mouths of the experts themselves, and don’t let any setbacks, or the possibility of a setback, discourage you from taking steps toward finding the dog (or cat) of your dreams. Here’s how to ace a dog adoption application.

Do your research

This step should come first in your adoption journey, as there’s a lot to learn! Basic pet care, first aid, and training techniques are just a few of the things you should educate yourself on. Leah Picone, the co-founder of Red Dog Rescue, told The Toronto Star that prospective owners should show off this knowledge when filling out their applications.

Before that, though, you should begin to get a feel for what kind of pet you’d like to join your home. Are you looking for a running partner? A snuggle buddy? An independent pet?

Some shelters even have a matchmaking program to help you find your perfect best friend, but you’ll likely need to be more prepared in order to join one. After all, they may find your match!

You should have a veterinarian and even a groomer picked out before bringing home a new pet. It will be important for them to have a thorough check-up once they come home, so by planning ahead you won’t have to wait.

A woman hugs and kisses a dog at the shelter

Prepare yourself and your home

As you research, you’ll begin to learn what you’ll need to do and what you’ll need to buy to pet-proof your home. Make a shopping list if it helps, because bringing home a dog or cat also brings a lot of changes. Be sure to have a plan for their potty schedule, feeding routine, and regular exercise.

Because it can take weeks, or even months, for an animal to adjust to a new home, you may need to implement additional safety measures. Put away any valuable or dangerous objects, and consider purchasing a pet gate if there are spaces you don’t want them to access.

Letting the shelter know on your application that you and your home are prepared may actually give you a secret advantage. GL Gatto of New Collar Collective reminds prospective adopters to be open to hiring dog walkers, pet sitters, and even enlisting family help on busier days (via The Toronto Star). Shelters love to know that an owner has plans to keep their new pet fed and cared for no matter what.

Timing is everything

Make sure you’re applying to adopt a pet when you’re truly able to commit enough time and energy to the process. You will likely not be considered if you’re planning on taking a vacation soon, Lorraine Houston, President of Speaking of Dogs Rescue, told The Toronto Star. Pets — dogs especially — need a consistent routine to stay happy and healthy, so it’s vital to stay home with your new friend, at least for a while.

A family holds a dog's paw and pets the dog at the shelter

Get to know your potential pup

Though it can be helpful to submit a general application to help shelter “matchmakers” understand what you’re looking for, it’s important to give any potential prospects some special attention.

Make sure to have everyone in your family meet the pet at the shelter before or when you apply so you can get a first-hand look at their personality and social skills. This will also let shelter staff get a good idea of whether your home would be a good fit for the animal you’re meeting, which could potentially mean a head start on the selection process!

Be honest and thorough in your application

Sabrina Coelho, the director of adoption for Sea Paws Rescue, reminds pet lovers to fill out the entire adoption application, even if they already have a general application on file (via The Toronto Star). It may seem self-explanatory, but the application is your chance to show the shelter how prepared and willing you are to care for a pet, even if it takes some extra work.

This is also a great time to let the shelter know that you have realistic expectations about the adoption journey. If you can, mention your awareness of the 3-3-3 rule, which canine experts use to describe the time it can take dogs to adjust to a new home.

In the first three days, notes Big Dog Ranch Rescue, you and your new friend are still getting to know one another. They likely aren’t comfortable yet, and that’s okay. By the time three weeks rolls around your pet should be showing more personality, though behavior problems can persist. At the end of three months, however, your fur baby should be more or less adjusted to their new home.

Now that you have these tips and tricks from the shelter experts themselves, you can best prepare yourself and your family to take on this exciting process. Bringing home a new pet can be a big deal, but it’s oh-so-fun and rewarding, too!

Editors' Recommendations

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
Looking for a fluffy and affectionate pup? Give the American Eskimo dog a try
Considering a spitz? Take a look at the American Eskimo dog
American Eskimo dog smiling at the camera

At first glance, you might confuse an American Eskimo dog with a shih tzu or even a Pomeranian. Or you might mix them up with the Canadian Eskimo dog, a 4,000-year-old animal that's native to America and was bred by the Inuit to pull sleds. But the American Eskimo dog (or Eskie) is a totally separate breed that's both beautiful and family-friendly. While no dog is right for everyone, you should consider this beastie if you want a unique and lovable pup. They might be exactly what your home needs to become complete.
Where does the American Eskimo dog come from?
Don't be fooled by the name, this pup came about in the 1800s and was bred by German immigrants as a farm dog. That means it's one of many spitz dogs, which also includes the malamute, Icelandic sheepdog, and Samoyed. The name was changed because of anti-German sentiments around World War I. Interestingly, this was a very popular show dog, and many performed in the circus and on stage! If you do wind up adopting an Eskie, you could get a regular old diva.
What is this breed like?
These fluffy friends can stay as small as 6 pounds in the toy size or up to 35 pounds, which can be standard, but they all have huge personalities regardless of stature. Because the American Eskimo dog was a working breed, they need a lot more exercise than you'd think just by looking. But they're highly trainable, loving toward people, and very energetic, so you should have no problem taking them on walks and to outdoor gatherings. If your routine already includes hikes or even strolls, the American Eskimo dog might be your perfect companion.

Who should get an Eskie?
This is a family dog through and through. Eskies require a lot of interaction and love — they sometimes misbehave if not given enough attention, which could include chewing up your favorite furniture or barking incessantly at seemingly nothing. That means you want to think carefully before committing to them, as you would with any pup.

Read more
All about the incredible greyhound dog
Love the greyhound dog breed? Here's what to know about these canines
A greyhound on a fuzzy rug

The greyhound dog breed has a sweet but noble demeanor. These large-sized hounds are built for speed with a narrow, aerodynamic body perfect for running down prey. History traces these dogs back to ancient Egypt.

Today, the pups like to track down treats. However, the breed has been at the center of controversy -- through no fault of their own. Because of their speed, they’ve been used as race dogs, a practice now illegal in most states in the U.S.

Read more
Here are 60 cute dog names for every aesthetic: cottagecore, grunge, Y2K, and more
These unique dog names are inspired by aesthetics, like barbiecore
A corgi dog standing in front of a pink background looks up and to the side with big eyes

If you spend enough time on social media -- particularly sites like Tumblr, Pinterest, or TikTok -- you'll become at least somewhat familiar with "aesthetics." These are moods or styles that influence art, clothing and decor choices, and even what someone posts online. Any vibe can be an aesthetic if it drives your style choices, so why not let your favorite aesthetics inspire your new dog's name as well?
These canine monikers range from timeless to eccentric (and everything in between), but they all have one thing in common: They're all sure to put a smile on your face. Whether they remind you of something adorable, something nostalgic, or something totally epic, these cute dog names are the perfect wealth of information to start your search with.

Cottagecore dog names inspired by the cute, woodsy aesthetic that's trending right now
Of all the popular aesthetics on the internet right now, cottagecore is arguably the most popular. These vibes can be described as natural, romantic, and vintage -- and they're just about every gardener's dream come true. If you've ever imagined yourself tending a garden and knitting a sweater in the English countryside or foraging for mushrooms in the forest with your animal companion, this aesthetic might be for you.

Read more