Dogs are a joyful part of many people’s lives. They fill any home with unconditional love, loyalty, and plenty of cuteness. And while all dogs are adorable, not all dogs are right for all people. If you live in an apartment, a small breed may be best for you. If you love hiking, you’re likely looking for a larger, more active breed. Size, breed, and age are all characteristics to keep in mind when looking to adopt

Finding the right dog for you can be complicated. Shelters may or may not have what you’re looking for or your preferred dog could already be pending adoption. Going the breeder route can make it easier for niche breeds or purebreds, but some popular pets have years-long wait lists. And not all breeders are ethical, contributing to the puppy mill problem. Fortunately, not all hope is lost. Here are a few ways you can make sure you find the pup you want.

Puppy sleeping in someones arms.

1. Make a Plan

Getting a dog is a big commitment of time, energy, and money. So, you’ll need to plan for your new addition before you begin the search. This helps you be ready in the event a pet you want becomes available. Plus, you’ll already be set up for success if a home visit is required.

Think through the logistics of getting a dog like how far you’re willing to go to pick up a pet. If states stand between you and your ideal dog, can you make the trip yourself? If you don’t have the time for a road trip, consider pet transport services that can handle retrieving your new furry friend for you. It’s important to think through these logistics. This can take a big weight off of your shoulders and allow you to spend your time preparing in other ways.

One of which is verifying that your living situation is suited for a dog. That means creating room for them to sleep, eat, and play. If you rent, you’ll want to review any breed restrictions and know about required deposits before bringing a pet home. Cleaning up and putting any choking hazards out of reach is also a good call. All of this prep work is the first step to help make the addition of a new dog that much smoother.

2. Set Up A Pet-Specific Alert

You can get notifications for your bills and new TV show releases, so why not pets? The good news is that there are options for both those seeking to adopt and people who’d rather go the breeder route. You just have to take a few steps to stay in the loop.

If you’re planning to adopt, you can download a pet adoption app to help you find the perfect puppy. You’ll simply set your preferences for the breed, age, gender, and any other criteria you’re looking for. Enable notifications and await news of dogs that could be a good fit. There’s no commitment, but it’s best to act quickly if you find a dog you might like. Many dogs, especially puppies and popular breeds, can be adopted quickly.

If you’d rather buy your dog from a breeder, you have options too. There are breed-specific websites that can show nearby breeders in your area with expected litters. Some have notification preferences that can send you an email when a particular breeder announces a new litter. However, puppies may be claimed early, so reaching out directly may be your best bet.

3. Join Social Media Groups

Having your sights set on a niche breed of dog can make finding a furry friend more difficult. But there’s a better chance of being in the know with pup availability if you’re interacting with like-minded people. Social media groups dedicated to specific dog breeds are a great way to accomplish that.

Devoted owners will likely share their training tips and peel back the curtain of what living with your desired breed is like. Stories about temperament, activity levels, and the cost of food can give you an idea of what you’re in for. Of course, every dog is different, but breeds have certain shared tendencies that can help you know what to expect.

These groups can also be a resource for litter due dates or rehoming opportunities that could lead you to your pet. As with anything online, safety should be kept top of mind. Unfortunately, not all dog social media groups are created with good intentions. So, it’s always recommended to vet anyone you’re speaking with and avoid paying for a dog until you’ve met it. This can help cut down on scams and ensure your information stays safe.

4. Attend In-Person Events

When shelters are overrun or about to reach capacity, they often host in-person adoption events. These are an excellent opportunity to meet available dogs and even discover breeds you didn’t know existed. Prospective owners can also understand more about a specific dog’s temperament — like if they bark or are reactive — in-person.

The downside is that these events may not have the exact breed, age, or gender of the dog you’re hoping for. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not worth checking out. Dog lovers will attend, and you could make a connection that leads to finding your perfect pet.

You can even chat with shelter employees to get tips or follow the shelter on social media to stay in the loop. If they post about new dogs regularly, you can turn on post notifications and receive alerts when dogs become available. With a bit of patience and a little luck, you may find your ideal dog.

Meet Your New Best Friend

Having a specific dog in mind as your ideal choice is a great way to begin the process of adoption. However, it’s important to recognize that locating that particular puppy might not always be a straightforward task. There’s a lot of planning that goes into finding your furry friend, but the payoff is worthwhile. After all, you’ll have a new family member who’s ready to take on the world (or a walk) by your side. What could be better than that?