It’s Clear The Shelter week and we have put together tips on how to prepare to welcome a new shelter dog!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for many the millions of homeless pets in need of a loyal furever family. Clear the Shelters “Bark Week” is taking place nationwide, from August 10 to 14 with the support of NBC Owned Television Stations and Telemundo Local Group. 

As a proud dog mom of two rescues, Penelope & Delilah, I am thrilled to team up with DOGTV in support of this incredible week! In light of our current world pandemic, the campaign theme “ADOPT & DONATE” has gone virtual, with more than 1,000 participating shelters with hopefully thousands of families choosing to adopt a new love.

How To Prepare To Welcome A New Shelter Dog

With so many people working and schooling from home for the foreseeable future, shelters and rescues have seen a boom in adoptions and the fostering of pets! That said, there are countless dogs (and cats!) in need, and there is no better time to step up and give them a forever home.

If you’re inspired to adopt, I have a few tips to help you choose the right dog for your family, and set you up for a lifetime of happiness together.


  1. Go prepared with a list of questions
  2. Do your homework about the breed mixes that might work for you
  3. Take an honest self-assessment about how much time you have to commit to daily exercise, enrichment and training, for your new four-legged family member. 

Here are a few questions to ask the shelter or rescue staff:

  • What is the dog’s background?
  • What is the dog’s personality? 
  • Are they shy? Outgoing? Athletic? Mellow? Aloof? Friendly? Fearful?
  • How does the dog act around other dogs?
  • How is he off-leash and on a leash?
  • What is her play style?
  • Do they seem more connected to other dogs or people, or both?
  • What is the pup’s medical history?
  • Does the shelter offer training support?
  • What are the costs related to shelter training classes or private lessons?
  • Does the shelter offer a trial adoption period or foster-to-adopt option? There are some dogs, or cats, who just aren’t a fit for a family and it’s best for you and the pet if you had to return him so he could find a better fit — and so your family could as well.
  • Is there a known bite history? (If yes then it’s time for more questions)
  • How long has this dog been here?
  • Has the dog been adopted/fostered and returned? If so, why?

The hours you spend on the Internet researching dog breeds, and the extra time you spend at the shelter asking thorough questions as you interview prospects is worth every minute when it can result in the four-legged love of a lifetime.

If this is your first dog, you may even want to consult with a certified professional dog trainer to help you assess and select a dog.


  1. Safety Proof Your Home: Take a “dog’s eye view” and look around your home for anything that could be potentially troublesome including: electrical wires, uncovered outlets, expensive furniture, shoes, books, etc. Think about a temporary management solution to create a puppy-proof, safe area filled with comfort, enrichment and free of potentially dangerous or expensive things to chew on. Turning on DOGTV for your pup will offer canine enrichment that can calm and entertain your new fur-baby.
  2. Secure Exterior Areas: Does your yard have a fence? Does it securely lock? Are there any holes along the fence line (a dog who is intent on escape can wriggle through a tiny hole)? Are you sure (walk the perimeter to be certain it’s secure)? How about your garden? Are there any dangerous plants or flowers you need to keep your dog away from? Be sure any fertilizer, pesticide or dangerous cleaning supplies are safely out of reach. Think about creating a designated “potty spot” if you want to keep your dog’s bathroom out of your children’s play area.
  3. Create A Daily Routine For Your New Dog: Think about your everyday life, and how a new dog may fit into that. With whom do you share your life and how involved will they be in the new dog’s care and training? With this in mind, create a daily schedule that includes feeding, exercise, enrichment, training sessions and the often overlooked part of a daily routine — rest. When you interview canine adoption prospects, you’ll have a much better chance for a good match if you walk in with realistic anticipations of what you can offer your new dog consistently. Dogs, just like humans, thrive with routines.
  4. Sign Up for DOGTV: Check out our new programming for humans. We are getting ready to launch a series of in-home DIY training tips. It’s never too early to learn about positive, rewards-based training. Consider signing up for a group class, whether virtual or socially-distanced. Prepare a fun dog TV playlist of desensitization, with DOGTV’s visual and auditory content designed just for dogs. DOGTV is the perfect companion for enrichment in between play, exercise and training. 

For everyone who is preparing to clear the shelter,  thank you! I hope this helps you CONNECT WITH and KEEP your newly-adopted best friend. As a dog mom to Penelope and Delilah, both foster “failures” turned forever adoption success I cannot imagine my life without them.

If you have questions, please tag me @lauranativo and @dogtv on Facebook or Instagram. We will do our best to respond, either in the comments or in one of our upcoming Facebook Lives! And for everyone in our DOGTV family who has a new furkid in the house, be sure to share their photo with us so we can congratulate you!

Guest author: Laura Nativo, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP; Founder & Fairy DOGmother; Social @LauraNativo;
Host | DogMasters