6 Tips for Adopting a New Best Friend

 Dogs can be great companions for all ages. However, the selection of a dog can be a very tough decision. Every dog is a beautiful creature in its own right, but even though they are cute and fluffy, does not mean they'll be a good addition to your home. Still, adopting a dog can be a great idea. October is Adopt-A-Dog month, an annual event when many shelters actively promote the adoption of their adorable canines. Here are a few tips to show you how to pick the right dog and shelter so you will be ready for your Adopt-A-Dog month.

Decide what Kind of Friend You Want

You may have heard horror stories about adopting the wrong pet. The person most likely had to take the dog back to the shelter because it was too hyperactive, or thought the couch was a chew toy. This happens often when people do not really know what they want. Many people think that they are looking for an amiable new friend to hang out with, but expect the dog to settle down when the owner is tired; however, this does not always happen. Some dogs are very hyperactive, and require a lot of high-energy play, for proper physical and emotional health. It is a good idea to make a list of qualities and expectations that you do or do not want in your pet.

Research Dog Breeds

Once you know what you are expecting from your new friend, search online, or check out books at your local library about canine breeds. They can tell you how active a particular breed is known to be, and what kind of care will be expected for it. For instance, terrier breeds such as the Boston terrier are known to be hyperactive, but this can be controlled by taking the pet for regular walks and daily exercise. If you do not feel you have time to exercise with your pet every day, you may want to think about getting a lap dog that will be just fine lying around, or dealing with light play for a short period. Keep in mind that no one breed fits all expectations, so you may have to make a tough decision about what you can live with reasonably. You do not want the dog or yourself to be unhappy.

Searching Online

Many reputable shelters have a website where they post pictures and information about all the animals in their care. Before you travel anywhere, search for shelters in your area. You can get the information about the shelter on their sites, and then look through their list of dogs to see which one might be a good fit for you. During Adopt-A-Dog month, they may also have extra events such as information days or specials when adopting. It is perfectly okay to look at several different shelters and consider a few different dogs at each. You should refrain from settling on one from a photograph, as the dog could be much different in person.

Visit Several Shelters

Once you have decided on which animals you want to see, call the shelters. You will want to make sure the animal is still available for adoption, so that you do not waste a trip for an animal that no longer needs a home. During Adopt-A-Dog month, some shelters experience a high-volume of adoptions and cannot always keep up with website updates. After finding that the dogs are still there, plan visits to each chosen shelter and ask to spend at least 30 minutes with each dog you want to meet. Also, look around for other animals as well. You never know when the perfect dog will have just arrived and not had its chance to be placed on the website.

Taking Care of Mandatory Vaccinations

Another question you will need to ask is about vaccinations and spaying or neutering. After selecting the dog you wish to adopt, you need to find out which shots the animal might still need and if there will be a fee to get these done. Also, talk to the shelter about how these will be taken care of. Some shelters can do this on-site; others may send you to a local veterinarian. If this is your first pet, you may also want to ask about future vaccinations so your dog can stay healthy.

Finalizing the Adoption

Make sure you have your information ready for the shelter. This will typically include your photo identification, proof of residency (such as a current utility bill), and a proof ownership of your home or landlord approval. If you have animals at home already, you may be required to schedule a 'meet-and-greet' with the new dog to make sure they all get along. After payment is made and all the paperwork is in order, the dog is yours. If there are post adoption instructions from the shelter, make sure you follow them exactly to help your dog adjust to his new environment well.

Adopt-A-Dog month can be a fun and exciting time to adopt a dog or puppy. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) holds a photo contest every year for the dogs adopted during the month, to celebrate all the dogs adopted. Shelters near you could have other contests or incentives for adopting families as well. Just remember these tips. They will insure that the adoption process will go smoothly for you and your new canine companion.


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