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.
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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.
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.
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.
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!