How to Make the Perfect Pet Match during Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month
October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and pet rescue and shelter organizations across the country are sharing photos and stories of many dogs in need of homes. 

Adopting a shelter pet has many advantages. They're already vaccinated and spayed or neutered and the staff has had time to assess their temperaments. But -- even if you've had a pet before -- bringing a new dog into the household requires planning and preparation.   

Here are four ways to help turn a happy first meeting into a lifelong relationship.
  1. Do your research. You want to choose a dog whose energy level and exercise needs fit your family's lifestyle. It's not fair to either if you're not a good match. Before visiting, spend some time on the shelter's website to see what types of dogs are available, and then investigate the traits of those breeds. 

  2. Prepare your home and yard for the new arrival. Choose a safe area for the new family member -- perhaps in the kitchen or family room -- for his crate and bedding, food and water bowls, and a few toys. Outdoor safety demands a fence, like the Invisible Fence® brand system, which gives your dog freedom to run and play, but gives you peace of mind that she is safe in her yard. 

  3. Make a commitment to train. Training is an excellent way to build a happy and positive relationship with your dog. Whether you spend time teaching basic skills or a new trick, you are enhancing your bond with your pet. A professional trainer can help by developing a plan customized for the dog and family's needs. 

  4. Practice patience. Dogs are most at ease when they have a familiar routine. The ebb and flow of his new home will be different from his routine at the shelter. "Be consistent, give him time to adjust and, with patience and love, your new family member will thrive."
It's so easy to fall in love when those soulful eyes are staring at you, but it's important to take the time to make the perfect match. There are thousands of adoptable dogs available year-round -- not just in October. Both the ASPCA and Petfinder have searchable databases of available pets at local shelters across the country.