Have you done homework?
Please be sure you are ready to adopt before making the plunge. The shelters are full of animals that were purchased or adopted by someone who did not think it all the way through and as a result didn't follow through on their commitment. Adopting a dog on impluse is not the way to go, make sure you can make that lifetime commitment to the dog.
Do you know what type of dog that would best suit your lifestyle? Have you read about things like about housebreaking, training, behavioral problems? Are you aware of the daily care of a dog?
Can you see yourself owning a dog for the next 12-15 years?
Most dogs live 12-15 years... are you prepared to make this kind of commitment?
Can you afford a dog?
The cost of a dog goes way behind the adoption fee. There are veterinarian bills, food and for schnauzers as well as some other breeds there are grooming requirements. Typical vet bills will run several hundred dollars a year for examines, vacinnations and flea control. Grooming generally cost $50 every couple of months. If you go on vacation and can't take your dog with you you will need to consider the cost of boarding or pet sitting generally around $20-30/day. Additionally if your new pet gets sick suddenly or needs some emergency care it could cost hundreds of dollars or even thousands of dollars.
Do you have any major changes in your life occuring now or anticipated in the near future?
If you are in the mist of moving, getting married, going through a divorce, going off to college, getting ready to have a baby, changing jobs? If so then it probably is not a good time to adopt. Wait until your life is more settled and you have the time to devote to a new family member.
Can you live with damage to your furniture or floors?
Can you live with a little damage to furniture and floors until your new pet becomes accustomed to your home? Will you take accidents, even flea infestations, in stride? Even housebroken pets can have accidents. Be prepared to cleanup a little vomit, pee or poo... its part of owning a pet.
Do you travel a lot?
What will you do with your dog when you travel? Boarding and pet sitting can be very expensive. And if you travel extensively how happy will your pet be alone?
Do you have children, if so how old are they?
If they're under 6, experts recommend that you wait a few years. Puppies have extra-sharp teeth and claws and strike back when teased. Smaller dogs may be too delicate for an exuberant toddler; large dogs can knock a child over. Some breeds, despite size, are domineering or high strung and some breeds just do not tolerate small children well.
Do you have the time to devote to a new dog?
Do you work long hours? Will you have the time and patience to train the dog? Are you prepared to give the dog its needed exercise? Do you have quality time to spend with a new dog?
How many animals do you currently have?
If you already have animals, have you checked to ensure that adding another animal will not violate your city limits or be in violation of any regulations of where you live?
Do you rent?
Have you checked with your landlord to see if they allow dogs? Have you anticipated what you might do if you have to move? Are you willing to pay more for a place to rent to ensure that you can take your pet with you? Are you choosing a breed that would not be difficult to find a place to rent with. How many animals do you have now... finding a pet friendly place can be difficult and the more animals you own the more difficult it will be.
Does everyone in your family want to adopt a dog?
A dog needs to be a family member and everyone needs to welcome him into your home. Be sure everyone agrees not only on getting a dog but on which dog to make part of the family. Let everyone in the family meet your new potential family member.