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Adopt a Golden Retriever (Full Step-by-Step Guide)

Updated September 7, 2022
Adopt a Golden Retriever (Full Step-by-Step Guide)

Only a genuinely compassionate, kind-hearted person can adopt a golden retriever instead of buying one from a breeder, but the decision has its pitfalls.

People don’t always understand what it takes to adopt a dog and realize the responsibility that comes with it.

Golden retrievers are fluffy, intelligent, playful dogs with a long lustrous coat and a friendly expression, but they aren’t a low-maintenance breed.

Don’t rescue a dog because it’s cheaper. Don’t adopt it if you aren’t ready for challenges. Adopting a dog requires dedication, responsibility, and patience.

However, the effort invested in adopting a rescue dog is worth the unconditional love you get from it.

Don’t Take The Decision Lightly

Becoming a dog owner is a bit like becoming a parent – you shouldn’t take the decision lightly. Just because some people get a dog on a whim and are happy with it doesn’t mean that such cases are common.

Of course, everyone in the family should be on board with the decision and ready to take care of the new family member – this relates to any dog, whether adopted or bought from a breeder.

However, an adopted dog may require double the attention and funds as a puppy from a kennel. Don’t expect the experience to be immaculate – any dogs require immense effort from the owner, especially rescue dogs.

Furthermore, you won’t be able to give away the dog if something goes wrong. Well, technically, you can bring it back to the shelter. But it will be damaging to the poor animal’s mental state, causing trust issues in the future.

Be Ready For Challenges

Be prepared for a long search if you want a dog of a particular breed, sex, and age. Finding a shelter or rescue organization is easy, but there’s no guarantee they will have what you’re looking for.

You may have to wait for a while until your local shelter rescues a golden retriever, and your first meeting may not go as expected. On the other hand, some rescue organizations specialize in specific breeds and have a better selection.

Many people who decide to adopt a dog underestimate how much money they need. Generally, rescue dogs cost $100-$700, which isn’t much compared to the $1,000-$4,000 price of a puppy from a breeder.

However, you will still have to buy food, training supplies, a dog bed, harness and a leash, and other essentials that will likely cost multiple hundreds of dollars.

Then, add potential veterinary expenses, and adopting a dog won’t seem that cheap anymore.

Consider the risks of adopting a dog. Not all shelter dogs are broken, abused, problematic, and unhealthy – in fact, that’s a damaging stigma that prevents many rescue dogs from acquiring loving owners.

Still, rescue dogs have higher odds of having temperament, behavioral, or health issues than dogs bought from a reputable breeder. Adult rescue dogs already have formed personalities, and you may have difficulty training one.

A common dog adoption mistake is expecting the dog to perceive the new owner as a saver. People like to anthropomorphize animals, imagining they have human emotions and thoughts.

However, the dog may not understand you saved it and is unlikely to pay you credit. The dog won’t know you won’t mistreat it as the old owners did, so be patient when building your relationship.

Consider The Age & Sex

If you’re willing to give a new life to any dog regardless of age and sex, you’re a wonderful person and can skip this section. However, for most people, the dog’s age and sex play an important role.

First, consider the dog’s age. A lot of people don’t want to adopt an adult or senior dog because they are challenging to train and have a shorter life ahead than puppies. That’s true, but adopting an older dog actually has many advantages.

Some adult dogs in animal shelters are already well-trained and have a great temperament. Many dogs end up in shelters because their owner can’t take care of them anymore, but they weren’t mistreated in any way.

Furthermore, with an adult dog, you get what you see – there will be no surprises. Adopting an adult dog is typically better for people working long hours and unable to invest the time in bringing up a puppy.

Last but not least, the demand for older dogs is significantly lower than for puppies, so adopting an adult golden retriever can save it from spending years in a shelter.

In contrast, a puppy may be a better option for people willing to train a dog to fit their lifestyle. Puppies are also better for families with small kids because they can grow up together.

As for a male vs. female golden retriever, consider the difference in temperaments. Although male and female goldens generally share the same traits, females tend to be more mature, protective, and independent, while males are goofier and more playful.

Choose The Shelter Or Rescue Organization

Many people wishing to adopt a dog are confused about how to find a dog shelter or rescue organization. The truth is, finding a shelter is simple – search for local shelters in search engines or on social media.

However, finding a rescue organization specializing in a particular breed can be trickier. You can search for “golden retriever rescue organizations in (state),” but there’s no guarantee you’ll find one close to home, so be ready for travel.

Note that not all animal shelters are equally good. Most of them have good intentions, yes, but not all of them have the resources to take proper care of dogs, so you should know the signs of an iffy animal shelter.

Be aware of shelters that don’t let you meet the dog before adopting it, though this should go without saying. Don’t take a dog from a shelter that doesn’t take dogs back (even if you don’t plan on giving it back).

Ensure that the shelter takes care of dog vaccinations, veterinary check-ups, and documents – such shelters never give out puppies younger than eight weeks old. A good shelter must also spay or neuter adult dogs they get.

The shelter workers must be genuinely interested in what happens with their rescues and be willing to discuss a specific dog’s temperament and potential difficulties.

They won’t rush the adoption but ensure the prospective owner knows what they’re doing.

Lastly, the dogs must be kept in a clean place and well-fed. Ideally, the shelter should also have volunteer trainers who deal with problematic dogs.

Contact The Organization

Assuming you’ve found a reputable dog shelter or rescue organization, contact it and introduce yourself. Tell about your lifestyle and ensure the shelter workers you have the resources to take care of a dog.

Rescue organization workers who are genuinely passionate about their job always want to know the prospective owners, so they will likely ask questions themselves if you fail to tell them enough.

Then, explain what you’re looking for – the dog’s breed, desirable age, sex, and personality traits. If the rescue organization has what you need, they will invite you to meet the dog.

Even if they don’t, they can at least save your contact details and get in touch if they get a nice golden.

Assuming the shelter has golden retrievers available, don’t hesitate to ask questions – you may want to make a list of questions to ask the animal shelter beforehand.

Find out whether the shelter makes vaccinations and documents, what is the particular golden retriever’s history, whether it has any health conditions, and what fees you will have to pay.

Meet With the Dog & Build Contact

The first meeting with a dog is exciting and stressful. Visiting an animal shelter can be heartbreaking, but remember that you can’t save everyone and even aren’t obliged to take the specific dog you’re going to see.

Don’t rush to take the dog home after the first meeting, and don’t judge by the first impression. Be patient – you may have to meet the dog several times to build the contact.

Many dogs appear shy or nervous in a shelter environment but are entirely different at home. If you feel like you have a connection with the dog and are ready for adoption, inform the shelter workers.

Fill In An Adoption Application & Pay The Fees

It’s not like you can just take a dog home whenever you wish to. You should first fill in an adoption application form and pay associated fees. The application form typically includes basic personal information like address and contact details.

The shelter workers may contact you multiple times throughout the first weeks after adopting a dog to ensure the dog is alright and you’re not planning on returning it.

The dog adoption fee may vary depending on the dog’s health state, age, and other variables. Some shelters require new owners to pay extra for vaccinations, deworming, documents, and microchips, but usually, these fees are included in the price.

Take The Dog Home

Once you’ve paid the fees and the shelter workers have approved your application, you can take your new buddy home. Buy all the necessary dog supplies beforehand and be patient when building your relationship – you will bond eventually.

The dog may need some time to get used to the new environment and understand which behavior is encouraged or discouraged, so don’t give up if not everything is perfect right away.

Image credit: Pixabay