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7 Tips Before You Adopt a Shelter Dog

Adopting a shelter dog is one of the most gratifying experiences but there are some tips and tricks for making sure the process goes smoothly so that you can avoid any issues and just focus on bonding with your new family member.

Pets can bring so much joy to our lives. One of the best things we as humans can do is to adopt our furry friends from accredited shelters. Not only are we helping the tireless volunteers who dedicate their time to caring for so many animals in need, but we’re also giving the animals a second chance at a forever home. Adopting a shelter dog is one of the most gratifying experiences but there are some tips and tricks for making sure the process goes smoothly so that you can avoid any issues and just focus on bonding with your new family member.

Here are some things you should know before you adopt. 


Puppy looking at camera

1 of 7 Do Your Research

Most people know to check the requirements for adopting before heading to the shelter. You’ll need proof of residency and some organizations require even more paperwork before you can take home one of their animals. Make sure you’ve got everything in order before heading to the shelter. Another good bit of advice is to research different breeds of dogs before narrowing down your decision. Check to see which dogs might fit best with your family, get input from the whole clan, delegate responsibilities beforehand and check to see if your wallet can handle the burden of a new pet. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a shelter pup only to realize you’re not ready to bring him home. 

Puppy in the house

2 of 7 Pet Proof Your Home

Bringing home a new pet is like bringing home a newborn baby. You’re forced to view your familiar surroundings in an entirely new light. Before you introduce your dog to his forever home, make sure it’s prepared. Note anything he might be able to get into. Decide if there are pieces of furniture or areas of the house that are off limits. Consider pet-proofing cabinets and doors. Any changes you’d make for a toddler, make them for your new family member too. 

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Woman working on a laptop

3 of 7 Google. Google. Google.

Google. Everything. The shelter, dog breeds, the best kind of pet foods, the vaccinations your pet may need, and it’s a good idea to check out the shelter before you head over. Most places have websites that offer a look at the dogs they’re currently housing. See what’s available so you’re not so overwhelmed once you meet the pups in person. Google is going to be your best friend throughout the adoption process. Make use of it. 

Family with dog

4 of 7 Bring The Whole Family To The Shelter

It’s important to test the chemistry of your furry new friend with the rest of his potential housemates. Pick a time when the whole family can come to help choose the pup. If you have kids, go over the rules of having a new dog in the house, how to treat him, what to expect when he first comes home. See what kind of breeds they’re interested in and introduce the idea of adopting an older pet so that, if you make a connection with an older dog, the kids won’t be disappointed they’re not getting a brand-new puppy. If you have other animals in the house, bring them along to. It’s important your pets get used to each other before you bring a new one home. 

Animal shelter volunteer

5 of 7 Ask Questions

Often, we fall in love with a shelter dog and forget to ask the necessary questions before bringing him home. As exciting as it is to be giving a deserving pup a forever home, don’t leave without talking to the shelter volunteers about your new family member. Get some insight into the dog’s history, how long he’s been at the shelter, how he interacts with other animals, his habits, his quirks. These people have spent plenty of time with your precious pup, they’ll have some helpful wisdom to share. 


6 of 7 Have Patience

The first few days after bringing a shelter dog home can be a bit chaotic, for you and your new pet. Try to demonstrate some patience with your pup. They’re likely nervous, stressed, and unsure of their new surroundings and you as their owner. Spend time with them but give them space to explore and get used to things on their own too. Crates are a wonderful way to minimize stress when introducing a new dog to the home. Make sure yours is the appropriate size and in a spot that feels secure and easily accessible to your animal. Enforce rules early. Routine and structure help a dog adjust quicker. And know that the animal you brought home likely isn’t the same animal you’ll have in a month or so. As the days go by, you’ll see their personality shine through and they’ll begin to show you love the more comfortable they get. 

Woman with dog

7 of 7 Take A Class

A great way to bond with your new dog is for the both of you to try something new. Attending a local “class” with your pup, whether it’s teaching the basics to a new puppy, trying some leash modification, or just reacquainting the both of you with appropriate behaviors and modes of disciplining, classes, especially group classes, are a wonderful way to develop trust between you and your dog and to give him some social interaction.

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