October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and Jenna Fernandes, CEO of CareBooker.com, the “Open Table” of family and pet care services, knows how important dogs are in the family. As a parent to her two dogs—a Min Pin named Scooby and Great Dane named Casper— Jenna offers 5 tips for adopting the right dog for any family (or even adding a second one!):
1. Make Sure You are Really Ready: Adopting a pet is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It’s important to realize that adoption is a commitment to taking care of the dog you choose for their entire life – through sickness and health, chewed shoes and “accidents” on the carpet. Only after you’ve decided that you can commit to being a lifelong (for the pets lifespan) pet parent, then you should continue on your quest to find the perfect furry mate.
2. Stay Open-minded: Make sure that the type of dog you think you want and the type of dog you really need are the same. Many people think adopting a puppy is ideal, however adopting a puppy can be a lot more work than adopting an older pet. Stay open-minded about which breeds will make an ideal companion and take into consideration other traits such as temperament, energy level, and health. If allergies are a concern in your family, you should also consider adopting a dog that does not shed or a dog with shorter hair.
3. Do Your Research: Petfinder is a great place to start your search for a new pet—I recommend starting with a local search so you can visit the shelter in person to communicate with the shelter staff/volunteers about what you really want in a pet. Take several of your favorite dogs for a walk and see how they behave outside the cage, providing them crucial time to normalize so you can get a better idea of their personality beyond the initial “I’m so excited to be outside my cage!” moment.
4. Consider Fostering First: If you’re not sure what type of dog you’re looking for, fostering is a great option. Not only does fostering pets save lives it’s also a great way to get to know a pet over a longer period of time than you would if you just visited the shelter. Many foster pets become “foster failures” after being adopted by the families who were originally only planning to provide them a temporary home.
5. Meet the Family: Before you adopt, make sure all the stakeholders in your life meet the pet you’re interested in making a permanent part of your family. This includes any other animals in your family such as dogs or cats who will be living with this new addition. Understand that there will be an adjustment period when the dog first moves in. After this, it’s time to make the adoption official and be on your way to a happy life with your new furry family member.