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5 things you need to know before adopting a pet from a shelter

Looking to adopt? Read these tips before your trip to the shelter! (By TODAY with our sponsor PetSmart)
/ Source: TODAY

Adopting a pet can bring love and snuggles into your life — but it can also be overwhelming. From getting your house ready, to choosing the animal that'll fit best with your children, the first days are bound to be full of surprises and adjustments.

In an effort to make the process as smooth as possible, Andrea Arden, pet expert and author of "Dog Training Bible," has a few tips you should know before embarking on the process.

Adopt a Pet TODAY is created with our sponsor PetSmart.

Go in with an open mind

It's a common misconception that shelter animals — dogs in particular — are not well-behaved. After working at a shelter for 12 years, Arden says that is not the case at all.

All dogs have varying personalities, which is why it's important to be as open as possible.

Don't rush your visit to the shelter

Take your time — and bring the whole family! Not rushing the process will ensure that your family makes the best decision possible. Be sure to choose based on the animal's personality, and think how it will match up with each family member.

"A family should know very clearly what their predicted amount of time to give to the potential adoptee is," Arden added.

Be prepared ahead of time

Preparation is the key to a successful adoption, which includes getting your house ready for your family's new arrival. Arden advises to create an area where your furry friend can rest calmly, such as a crate or an area that is separated by a gate.

If you have children, re-think adopting a tiny dog

Arden suggests steering clear of adopting a tiny dog if you have children, because tiny dogs can be fragile. If you have little ones at home, consider adult dogs or animals bigger in size.

RELATED: Volunteers gather to give big farewell to very last dog adopted from shelter

Regardless of size, the process can be valuable for your children.

"It teaches kids a really valuable lesson, which is in giving an animal a second chance," Arden said.

Get involved

Even if you don't have time to adopt a pet right now, there is always time to get involved! Donate supplies or simply take a dog out for a walk. In addition to helping the shelter, there may be added benefits as well.

"If you're there volunteering for a month or so, once a week, that might be the way that you meet your perfect match," Arden said.

RELATED: Animal shelter has matchmakers to help you find the purr-fect companion

With local animal shelters, rescue organizations and animal control centers, adoption is both easy and accessible. And remember, you're saving a life. Happy adopting!