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October is more than costumes and candy—it is the time of year that the ASPCA® puts an extra bright spotlight on shelter dogs by celebrating Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month.

Every year, millions of dogs enter shelters all over the nation because of circumstances beyond their control. Whatever their breed, these dogs are loving animals who are eager for a stable forever home. Adoption experts believe that shelter dogs know that someone saved them. As a result, many of these dogs create a special bond with their new pet parents.

If you’re thinking about adding a shelter dog to your family, here are some helpful guidelines from our friends at the ASPCA for finding the perfect match.

First, evaluate your lifestyle.
Even before going to the shelter, it is important to assess your routine to know what type of dog might be right for you. Ask yourself:
•  Are you an active adult who wants an energetic pet? Or do you enjoy a quiet lifestyle and want a cuddle buddy?
•  Do you have a family with small children? What about other animals in your household? What type of dog may suit everyone?
•  What is the size of your home, car and yard?
•  How much can you afford to care for a dog?

Also, make a list of questions to bring with you to the shelter—it’ll help you stay focused. Ask about the dog’s former living situation, medical history and behavior at the shelter, as well as personality traits.

Next, spend time at the shelter.
Meet the staff and share the type of dog you’re looking for based on your lifestyle. As many shelters have personality matching programs, the staff will be able to guide you. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your top few choices, spend time with each dog—everything from quiet time to play time—to see how the dog interacts with you and to get a sense of the animal’s overall demeanor. Remember that a shelter environment can be stressful, so it may take a dog a few moments to warm up to you. For more tips to have a successful shelter visit, refer to the ASPCA’s complete guide on adopting a shelter dog:

Finally, make your decision.
Adopting a dog is an important choice as he or she will be a part of your family for many years. If the shelter allows a 24-hour hold, take advantage of it so you can see the dog on another occasion. Bring back family members, other pets or a close friend to help observe the animal as well. And remember, if you don’t find a dog that suits you just right, it is OK to be patient—shelters accept new dogs every day!

For more adoption tips and dog care information, visit:

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As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

Meet the Author

Julia H.

Social Media Coordinator

Pet Parent to:

Lucy, an 8-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

Blog Guidelines

While we’ll strive to present all viewpoints on this blog, comments will be reviewed before posting. Offensive or inappropriate language, off-topic remarks and comments containing personal policy information will not be featured.

Also, conditions discussed in this blog aren’t necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. For full coverage terms, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your plan.

As always, if you have a question about your plan, call us at 1-866-204-6764.

*Note: While these testimonials may include examples of recent claims payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.