Our Top Tips for Adopting a Shelter Dog

ShelterDogs copyLooking to adopt your first shelter dog? There are a few tips you should know before signing the papers.

We’ve covered the topic before, but it’s especially pertinent now, during Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.

From knowing which shelters to trust to finding the right vet, there’s a lot to cover. Let’s jump in.

Finding a Shelter

Finding the home before your home can be a task, but consulting the right resources can help.

The Humane Society and the ASPCA are good places to start. Consider the no-kill shelter dogs’ journeys before choosing to adopt a pet relocated from a kill shelter, which may have received improper medical care.

To avoid adopting a dog who will need more immediate care than you are able to provide, simply do your research on the shelter’s practices, and ask for references of people who have adopted. Most shelters will have success stories available.

Preparing Your Home

Preparing your home for a new pet is quite akin to baby-proofing your home – so if you’re a parent, you’ve got this one down.

Keep chemicals and other dangerous materials in locked cabinets or on high shelves. Get electrical cords out of the way, either using a wall-mounting system or appropriate power strips. Move any plants to unreachable areas (or they will get eaten).

Get rid of your breakables. Playtime can get rowdy. Get rid of packs of gum or any candy that may contain xylitol – deadly to dogs. Also lock up your other food, because they’ll eat anything.

Toys are very important to your new dog’s mental and physical health. This tip isn’t about proofing, but instead providing: get some quality toys that allow him or her to play solo while you’re out of the house.

Dogs can be destructive when they are left alone or stressed.

That’s why they need a variety of chew toys and plenty of exercise (see above!). Any vet will tell you that a tired dog is a good dog.

Pick an area where the dog will “live” when you are not around. Most dog owners choose the kitchen since accidents are easier to clean up on tile or linoleum.

23759575_lWill you crate your dog? Puppies are easier to crate train, but you can train an older dog to stay in a crate while you are not home to avoid destruction to your property.

If you don’t want to crate your dog, using baby gates is another option.


Focus on health

It will be important for you to find the right veterinarian for your new dog. Most shelter dogs have their shots and have been treated for fleas and other common health concerns.

Ensure your pet has been neutered and has his shots. If you want to adopt without that info, it will be vital to get a health assessment from a vet you trust.

One of the best ways to find a good vet is by word of mouth. Ask your dog-loving friends! And always check with the shelter from whom you got your new pet to see if their employees have a recommendation.

Reviews are also valuable. Any vet review site should work, but we highly suggest sorting through a number of them to find the real, nitty-gritty info.

Have you ever adopted a shelter dog before? What info did we leave out? What was your greatest challenge? Share your thoughts in the comments below.