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Bringing Home a Shelter Dog: What You Need to Know

If the dog you want is healthy, shelter workers will often insist you take it home with you immediately, to free up much-needed space. (With an estimated 6 to 8 million dogs and cats landing in U.S. shelters each year, who can blame them?) Here’s what you’ll need when you bring home a pooch.

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner

Basic Supplies

Hold off on some purchases -- toys, a dog bed -- until you learn what kind of play and sleep arrangements your dog prefers. But do get the essentials, like food and water bowls, housebreaking pads, and a cleanser to treat messes (look for Nature’s Miracle pet-stain and odor remover).

A Vet on Call

Choose a vet practice that has experience with rescues; it will be used to spotting common shelter-dog ailments like kennel cough. Take your pup for an introductory visit within two weeks of the adoption. (Many vets work with shelters and offer a free first exam.)

Time Off

Plan to take several days off from work to bond with your new pet. The dog may experience separation anxiety, so build up slowly to longer periods away. If taking time off isn’t an option, acquaint your dog with its walker or sitter as soon as possible so that everyone feels comfortable.

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