The Adoption Process

The most important thing is that dogs go to homes that are well matched to their needs, to ensure they can live happy and safe lives. We hope that the below information will be helpful to all applicants but if you have any queries about adopting or about a current adoption application, please contact us at

Becoming the guardian of one of our dogs is a big responsibility so before adopting one PLEASE THINK!

Do you have the time a dog needs?

Time to spend with the dog (no dog likes long periods alone) and time for exercise, stimulation and training. This is lifelong but particularly important in the settling in period.

Can you afford a dog?

You should consider the costs of guardianship which includes good quality food, inoculations, flea and worm treatment, routine and ongoing vet bills, grooming, insurance premiums and care for if you are going away.

Are you commited?

If your dog has or develops a problem, are you happy to work with your dog to resolve it? Rescue dogs have often have had unsettled lives and need stability and consistency, including when they need additional support to overcome their trauma. Whilst we will always take a dog back if the adoption doesn’t work out, we do expect adopters to work through challenges and give the dog a chance – dogs are not an overnight fix!

If the answer to all these questions is a resounding Yes then the next stage is to identify a potential match on our ‘dogs available for adoption’ page and complete an online Adoption Enquiry Form.

Applications for each dog are reviewed and you may receive a phone call from one of our volunteers to discuss your application further. We do receive high volumes of applications for some dogs and as such are not always able to phone all applicants, however we do try to notify all applicants of the outcome of their application via email. When the best match is identified the applicants will be homed and vet checked and invited to come and meet the dog (all members of the household including resident dogs must attend).

A non-refundable adoption donation is requested as contribution to costs incurred by us in carrying out our rescue work and there is also a guardianship agreement and adoption pack to be issued. During this process our volunteers are on hand to help you prepare for adoption and support you through welcoming your new family member.


We ask that all applicants are completely honest through the process and any misleading information provided will result in your application process being stopped and a refusal of future applications.


We try not to have a long list of ‘hard and fast’ rules and instead each application is considered on an individual basis. We are welcoming of applications from a diverse types of homes and are flexible on rehoming with children, other animals, older families and a variety of living situations (including those living in flats).


We do try to notify applicants directly of the outcome of their application, but during especially busy times our volunteers do not always have capacity to do this. We do however update the website when a dog is reserved and then adopted. If you have previously applied and missed out, you will need to complete a new application form when you see a dog you are a good match for


Catchment area

Our catchment area for rehoming is Somerset and the locally surrounding areas (such as Bristol, Bath, Weston Super Mare, Devon, Wiltshire etc*). We have a catchment area to ensure that we can carry out all parts of the adoption process which includes providing post adoption support. We do consider homes outside of our catchment area in exceptional circumstances, for example if it’s a dog who we have struggled to find a home for over a long period of time, or where the dog has extremely specialist needs. Please note you will not be able to meet a dog and take them home the same day and so you will need to make the trip to their foster placement (or our kennels) twice.



It is important for us to keep up the momentum in the adoption process for a number of reasons, including the need to move the dogs on before they become too settled, avoiding keeping other applicants waiting for the outcome of their application and to free up desperately needed fostering and kennel spaces. As such, we are not able to hold dogs due to holidays, illness etc and applicants should only apply if they are ready to bring a dog home. Generally speaking, you must be free to come and meet the dog within a few days of applying and be in a position to bring them home within one week* (subject to all vetting and adoption preparation). *For dogs at the kennels this is three days. This may seem fairly quick, which is why we encourage families to get in contact and ask questions during the initial stages of their research, so we can help you prepare.


What are we looking for in a home check?

One of our volunteer homecheckers will attend your house and will need to see both inside and outside the property. They will be looking for a calm environment that is free of hazards and a garden that is secure and escape proof. Examples of things that be hazardous to dogs are excessive clutter, access to human food or potentially dangerous materials, litter, uncovered ponds, unsecure garden boundaries

It may be that we make recommendations for any minor amendments required however, if there is a significant amount of work needed, it may mean we cannot proceed with your application. You should ensure that your home is in a state of readiness to pass a homecheck before you apply for a dog to ensure you’re proceedable.


What are we looking for in a vet check?

We conduct veterinary reference checks to ensure that you are able to demonstrate an appropriate level of care having been provided to your current or previous pet(s).

Any resident dogs should be neutered (unless a vet has advised not to for medical reasons) in line with British Veterinary Association guidance and up to date with vaccinations. We will also look for any welfare and care issues relating to your current or previous dog (such as medical issues not being addressed, the dog being significantly overweight, inability to cover vets costs and pets going a significant period of time without health checks).


The vet reference must cover pets whole lifetime, and so if you have had multiple vet registrations please ensure you provide details of these.


When you apply to adopt, you must give your vets practice permission to share with Dogs Friends.


Why some of our dogs must be rehomed with resident dogs

Many of our dogs come from a commercial breeding background (you may have heard the term ‘puppy farm’ used). These dogs can often be very traumatised or at least very insecure, due to years of neglect and in some cases having had minimal human interaction. For many of these dogs, the only comfort they will have ever known is that of the companionship of another dog. They are often reliant on consistent companionship from another dog for comfort and reassurance, and cannot cope as an only dog. It can sometimes seem that they are confident enough alone, but it isn’t until they are removed from the company of other dogs that they begin to shut down.


Rehoming with children

We do appreciate that if you have children, rehoming a rescue dog can be more challenging. As a rescue we have a duty of care to protect both applicants and our dogs, and therefore are extremely careful about rehoming with children. We do however rehome to families with children (usually with a lower limit of aged 4) where safe and appropriate to do so – we will consider the size, breed, personality and background of the dog and make a sensible and well considered judgement on the best match for the dog. If you have children younger than the age set in the profile, please do not apply to avoid disappointment. All children should be able to act calmly and sensibly around dogs, respecting boundaries and listening to parental guidance – this is something that will be assessed at the meet and greet stage.


Rehoming with cats

We unfortunately do not have the ability to cat test, unless the opportunity for dogs to interact with a cat occurs organically – for example, the dog being in an experienced foster home with resident cats. We will state on a dogs profile if they are able to live with cats, but all adopters must acknowledge that careful introductions will be required and that they will not necessarily get on well straight away.


Rehoming to people in flats

We do rehome to families in flats or those without a garden providing this is suitable to the needs of the dogs. Many ex-breeding dogs cannot walk on a lead for quite some time and will need gardens to ensure they can safely spend time outside and go to the toilet etc.


Adoption Fee’s

Our adoption fee’s are usually between £300-£450 and this  goes towards covering microchipping, vaccination, neutering and other costs incurred in rescuing a dog. Rescues are often criticised for adoption fee’s and so we do like to remind people that the majority of the dogs coming into our care are in a very bad way and often require thousands of pounds worth of vet treatment. There will be some dogs who have an adoption fee of £300 who will have had surgeries costing the charity £5,000+ – this money must come from somewhere and so adoption fee’s are just a small part of us desperately trying to recoup costs and keep the rescue going.


Age Limits

The lower age limit to adopt is 18 and there is no upper age limit. We do however ask for applicants to be realistic when applying for dogs and consider the age of the dog vs their own age.

Complete Adoption Enquiry Form

    Your age group

    Is your home rented or owned?

    Are you ready to bring a dog/cat home within one week?

    Are all resident dogs (or cats if applying for cats) neutered?

    Settling in your new Dog

    Coming in to a new home can be a little daunting for everyone. This guide can help you and your new dog settle in to your exciting journey through life together.
    Why is this dog in rescue?

    There are many reasons why a dog is in rescue and sometimes the dog can come with no history. Allow your new dog a couple weeks to settle into their surroundings, this will give them time to get used to a routine in their new home and start to build a bond with you.

    The First Night

    The first night in an unfamiliar environment can be scary, so here a few pointers to help make the transition into their new home less stressful.

    • Show them in the day where to go to toilet.
    • Decide where they will sleep and provide them with their own bed.
    • Give them their own sleeping area.
    • Expect them to want to go to toilet in the night.
    • Don’t feed them too late before going to bed.
    • If they are sleeping in a different room to you leave a radio on for them so it’s not so solitary.
    Toilet Training

    If a dog has been living in a kennelled environment for a long time, they may not know how to be clean in the house or they just may never have been taught.

    Here are some points to help with house training:

    • Take them outside to go to toilet regularly.
    • Take out every hour if needed and develop a routine.
    • Take out after eating and drinking.
    • Take out when they wake up.
    • Take out after play.
    • Give lots of praise and a reward for toileting in the right place.
    • Never punish for going to toilet in the house.
    • Clean any mistakes up with a proper cleaning solution or use a biological washing liquid.
    Children & Dogs

    Children and dogs can have a loving and rewarding friendship, but here are some pointers to remember when introducing the new dog to children.

    • Keep everyone calm when the new dog arrives as children can become over excited with the thought of a new furry family member.
    • Do not give the responsibility to the child to take care of the dog, this is the responsibility of the adults in the household.
    • Allow the dog time to settle and to come to you to say hello, do not flood the dog with too much human emotion.
    • When children want to introduce themselves, this must be done calmly to not frighten or overexcite the dog.
    • Very gently say hello by showing the palm of their hand and by being by the side of the dog giving a gentle stroke to their chest.
    • When giving a treat use the palm of your hand and keep hands low to not encourage jumping up.
    • Some dogs can be more stimulated by fast movement like collies or terriers.
    • Do not allow the child to keep pestering the dog, allow the dog a space to be alone.
    • The dog will need some quiet time to acclimatise.
    • Never leave the dog and child unsupervised as dogs can become tired and irritable just as children can.

    The right nutrition is very important in a dog’s life, providing the right nutrition will help the dog physically and mentally. Diet can be a minefield as there are so many companies claiming their food is the best.

    Some diets contain sugars and can be high in cereals which can cause hyperactivity, aggression and a diet high in cereals can lead to digestion problems resulting in loose stools or worse diarrhoea and vomiting or both. If you have any concerns with diet, speak to a canine nutritionist or your vet.