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National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month: 12 Tips from Experts on Adopting Dogs

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has great, expert tips to help ensure that your dog adoption is as easy as possible for your family, and your new pooch.

All the adorable dogs featured in this article are actually available for adoption at the ASPCA’s adoption center in New York City. You can also check here to find adoption centers closer to you! Every dog from the ASPCA is microchipped, up-to-date on vaccinations and spayed or neutered. Adopters also receive a free follow-up veterinary exam at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital.

If you’re thinking about adopting a dog, take a look at these great tips! And if you’re in the New York City area, consider bringing one of these sweet dogs into your home.

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  • Take your time. 1 of 12
    Take your time.
    Adopting a dog is a big decision and an even bigger commitment. The ASPCA recommends asking yourself whether your family is ready for this commitment, and whether you're ready to pet-proof your home. You also need to be able to afford to care for your pet's health and safety.

    Lady is a seven-year-old white American Pit Bull Terrier mix. Find out more about Lady at the ASPCA's website here!
  • Think about what age dog makes the most sense for your family. 2 of 12
    Think about what age dog makes the most sense for your family.
    If there are young kids in the house, a puppy may not be your your best bet, says the ASPCA. Instead, try a medium-sized dog over five months of age.

    Cagney is an 11-month old Plott Hound/Labrador Retriever with brindle coloring. Find out more about Cagney at the ASPCA's website here!
  • Consider adopting an older dog. 3 of 12
    Consider adopting an older dog.
    Parents especially should give serious consideration to adopting an older dog. Often, they're already house-broken and won't need quite the intense level of supervision that a puppy does. Also, older dogs in shelters are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized. When you adopt an older dog, you're saving its life.

    Snowball is an eight-year-old West Highland White Terrier mix. Find out more about Snowball at the ASPCA's website here!
  • Think about what type of dog will suit your personality. 4 of 12
    Think about what type of dog will suit your personality.
    Do you want a dog that's more playful, or more snuggly? Do you want a dog that will go for runs with you, or one that is content to be a couch potato most of the time? Do your research on different types of breeds, and consider that older dogs may be more mellow than puppies.

    Hennessy is an eight-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier mix, who takes medication. Find out more about Hennessy at the ASPCA's website here!
  • Pet-proof your home. 5 of 12
    Pet-proof your home.
    Making your home safe for a dog is similar to making a home safe for a toddler: tuck electrical cords out of the way, and install safety latches in lower kitchen cabinets. Make sure any house plants are out of reach and aren't poisonous. Make sure items that are dangerous to ingest—like children's toys and chemicals—are off floor level. The ASPCA says that many people find it helps to get down on the floor for a dog's-eye view of every room to see what might tempt a curious canine.

    Cammy is a four-year-old white miniature poodle. Find out more about Cammy at the ASPCA's website here!
  • Decide on house rules. 6 of 12
    Decide on house rules.
    Before you bring your dog home, decide whether or not she will be allowed on furniture, whether she'll ever be allowed "people" food, and where she'll be allowed to sleep. Talk with your family about what behaviors are encouraged, and which are forbidden. Consistency is the key to training dogs, says the ASPCA, so make sure everyone will stick to enforcing the new system.

    Julie is a six-month-old grey American Pit Bull Terrier. Find out more about Julie at the ASPCA's website here!
  • Decide on responsibilities. 7 of 12
    Decide on responsibilities.
    Also before you bring the dog home, decide who will be responsible for different care responsibilities, such as feeding, walking, brushing, and cleaning up after the dog. Especially if kids are going to participate, make it very clear ahead of time, and consider a chore chart. And remember, as the adult, you'll need to check up on even the most responsible kids to make sure the jobs are getting done.

    Gene Wilder is a seven-year-old grey/brown miniature poodle. Find out more about Gene Wilder at the ASPCA's website here!
  • Find a great vet, and make an appointment. 8 of 12
    Find a great vet, and make an appointment.
    If you don't already have one, find a good veterinarian—and bring your new dog to a caring veterinarian for a wellness exam within one week after adoption, recommends the ASPCA. Make this first appointment even before you bring home your new pup.

    Petunia is a 4-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier mix. Find out more about Petunia at the ASPCA's website here!
  • Be well-informed. 9 of 12
    Be well-informed.
    Especially if you're new to dog ownership, read up on how to care for your particular breed of dog. Check your local library for books, or view tons of guides on the ASPCA's website.

    Shazam is a four-year-old brown and white Cairn Terrier mix. Find out more about Shazam at the ASPCA's website here!
  • Stock up on supplies. 10 of 12
    Stock up on supplies.
    Your dog doesn't need too much fancy stuff -- the right food, clean water, and some toys are really all she needs. It's recommended that you keep your dog on whatever food she's already eating, at least initially. When you take her for her first vet appointment, talk to the vet about the right food--and the right amount of food--for your individual dog.

    Tip: Worried a new dog will chew all your stuff? Provide plenty of "legal" things for your dog to chew, suggests the ASPCA. If he has attractive toys and bones of his own, he'll be much less likely to gnaw on your things!

    Tommy is a three-year-old black and white Pit Bull Terrier. Find out more about Tommy at the ASPCA's website here!
  • Make it legal! 11 of 12
    Make it legal!
    Be sure to find out about your community's dog licensing rules and apply for a license. This information can usually be found by visiting your state's department of agriculture website, or your township's website. You can also ask your local shelter for information about the rules.

    Driver is a three-year-old white Maltese. Find out more about Driver at the ASPCA's website here!
  • Spay or neuter your dog, if he or she isn’t already. 12 of 12
    Spay or neuter your dog, if he or she isn't already.
    Every dog from the ASPCA is microchipped, up-to-date on vaccinations and spayed or neutered, but every pet shelter has different policies in place. If your dog isn't already spayed or neutered, make an appointment ASAP.

    Thunder is a two-year-old, tan and white Pit Bull Terrier mix. Find out more about Thunder at the ASPCA's website here!

Read more from Joslyn at Strollerderby and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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