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Clear The Shelters is this weekend, and I am hesitant to write about it because the intentions are good. Clear The Shelters, give every pet a home, give the shelter’s space to help more pets. However, in my head, I keep coming back to horror stories I’ve read about dogs coming from free adoptions, and I hope that we don’t hear more of those. We undoubtedly will as there are people out there who don’t have good intentions and can, as history has seen, scoot through any fences to get a pet.

This blog isn’t for the evil people though; it’s for the good ones. The well-meaning folks who are excited about the opportunity to add a family member this weekend.

So before you send me nastygrams, I have an adorable, beautiful, perfect and complicated rescue dog whom I fostered (and his two littermates) from Austin Animal Center. I adore him! Also, he is the most expensive dog I own. See Pet Insurance. My team and I also spend every single day surrounded by amazing rescue dogs from all over the map. This isn’t anti-rescue. This is pro-smart decisions!

Here are some things to ponder.

Before you ever step foot in a shelter, think about the type of dog that will be a good fit for your family.

Do you want an active dog? I hear stories of people wishing dogs to run with them because they hope to finally take up that 5k weekender habit they had in college. Except… now they work 50 hours a week and have two small children and haven’t run in years.
Moreover, a lot of the time, they don’t take up running again, and their active dog is too much for their little ones and digging out of the yard because he’s bored. He has destroyed their home in search of activities. He was supposed to be active, but since he is, he isn’t working out. If you want a dog, make sure you know what kind of dog you want.

A low key dog, a dog who is good with kids, a dog who is social and likes going to restaurants, a dog who is happy being an only dog, a dog who wants to run, or a dog who is comfortable just hanging at your feet. Your adoption counselors will be happy to help you find the right dog for your family if you’ve come prepared with a list of qualities that are important to you. All dogs are cute, but you want to make sure they are a perfect fit.

Are you prepared to train your dog?

If you are brand new to dog ownership, I will encourage you to do some research on local trainers who practice positive, science-based dog training methods. Your dog will not only learn skills, but you will build a working relationship at the same time. The best time to start training is before you need it. Watch some dog training videos, get to know who is in your area. Your new dog will thank you!

Whom will your new veterinarian be?

This is another one of those things you’ll want to research before you need it. Do you want a vet who only practices western medicine? Maybe you prefer a holistic route, or the best of both worlds (in my opinion) an integrative vet. Do your research and even take it one step further and give them a call to see if they will be an excellent fit for you. To me, a vet practice is terrific when it starts with a caring front end staff.

If you’re bringing a new dog home, get all the tools you need beforehand.

A kennel, a leash, a collar, treats, puzzle toys, food, bowls, and toys, at a minimum. You don’t want to be running out looking for things you wish you got before your dog came home. It’s also stressful for some new dogs to immediately bring them to a pet store to shop after just being sprung from a shelter. You both need some time to get to know each other before you go on outings.

Time with your new family member.

This time is an adjustment for everyone! Just like bringing a baby home from the hospital, everyone is going to need some time to adjust to a new place and new people. If you’re leaving for summer vacation next week, perhaps this weekend is not the best time to add a new friend. Remember, shelters always have adoptions so while it’s free this weekend if there’s a better time for your family, wait.

Who will care for your dog when you can’t?

You’re here because you know we run an amazing dogwalking business, and our clients rely on us to care for their pets when they can’t. Consider hiring a dog walker to visit your dog midday to help you with training and good potty habits when your new dog comes home. Anyone you hire should be insured, bonded, pet CPR and First Aid certified and will have references available for you. They should be knowledgeable about dog behavior, handling, training and skilled in animal husbandry. You wouldn’t let just anyone into your home to watch your kids, and the same goes for a new four-footed addition to your family.

Are you ready for a lifelong commitment?

A shelter dog is a beautiful addition to the right family for them. They require regular vet visits, proper nutrition, exercise, enrichment, and training. Some dogs are lucky enough to live long into their teens. If your situation is one that could change, could it change and include your new dog? If it doesn’t, perhaps you should reconsider if this is the right time. I promise, there will always be dogs who need homes when you are ready!

If you feel like you’re ready to add a new family member, excellent!

Follow some of the advice I’ve given and remember, the best outcome for any dog is for them to be adopted and stay in their loving home. Sometimes things don’t work out, but if you’ve done your research and are prepared and everything feels right when you meet your new best friend, then go for it.

Pets Crave Love™

Professional Dog Walking Services in South Austin. Our service area includes 78747 as well as Ashbrook, Bluff Springs/Frontage Road, Bradshaw Crossing, Carrington Oaks, Chateau at Onion Creek, Colonial Grand at Double Creek, Congress, Courtyards at Onion Creek, Courtyards at Southpark Meadows, Crossing At Onion Creek, Enclave at Estancia, Farmhouse Apartments, Goodnight, Goodnight Ranch, Iron Rock Ranch, Legends Way at Onion Creek, Lennar, Meadows At Double Creek, Old California Apartments, Old San Antonio, Onion Creek, Onion Creek Plantation, Parkside At Slaughter Creek, Quicksilver, River Ridge, RSI Homes, South Grove, Southpark Terraces, Springfield Phase C, Springfield Village, Stablewood At Slaughter Creek, Stonecreek Ranch, Stonegate, Thaxton Place, The Bend At Nuckols Crossing, The Cottages, The Oak at Twin Creeks, Trails at The Park, Weber Hill, Yarrabee Bend and more. 

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