It's Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! Ready to Meet Your New Best Friend?

October is the perfect time to rescue a new pet and support your local humane society.

By: Ryan Reed
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It’s hard to put into words the feeling you get when you adopt a pet. Not only are you giving them a fresh start in a loving home, but adopting also supports your local shelter so they can go out and help more animals in need.



Photo by: Grace Chon |

Grace Chon |

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and now is the perfect time to add a new member to the family. I recently volunteered at the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley where I met volunteer coordinator Cera Smith. She explains why adopting from a shelter is the best way to find your new furry friend.

"Your new pet will already be up-to-date on shots, microchipped and spayed or neutered," Cera says.

Choosing a dog is probably the most difficult decision you’ll have at the shelter, but there are two types you should absolutely consider before deciding: older dogs and Staffordshire Terriers (often referred to as pitbulls).

"Adopting an older dog can be amazing!," Cera says. "You get a dog that is generally already house trained and probably calmer than a puppy." Many dogs can live to be 17 years old or more and have a lot of life to live, so never be discouraged by the "senior" label.

Another label people are sometimes afraid of is "pitbull." There is a lot of misinformation about these animals and it would be a mistake to overlook them. "They are loyal, loving, good with children and happy just snuggling on the couch with their human," Cera says. Shelters take in a lot of "pitties" and "pitmixes," so adopting one of these dogs is a tremendous help to the shelter.

Puppies are usually the easiest to find a new home for. If you’re considering bringing one into your home there are a few supplies you should definitely have on hand, such as a crate, bedding, inexpensive collar, leash, ID tag, food bowls, food, toys and treats.

"When it comes to a puppy, you want to be prepared for anything," Cera says. Cera doesn’t recommend potty pads, as they encourage your pet to go to the bathroom indoors. Do your research when it comes to food, and consider training classes to help understand and communicate with your new pet.

To make the transition into a new home easier for your dog and to help you maintain a chic and pet-friendly environment, check out the tips below:

Pet Adoption Tips

Bringing a new pet into your home is a big commitment, make sure you and your family are ready.

Canine Clean Zone

White Tiled Pet Shower

White Tiled Pet Shower

Cleaning your dog is easier with a floor-level pet shower. The large opening takes the hassle out of luring rover into the shower. Splash-friendly flooring also make this an ideal area to clean pet dishes and toys.

Giving your dog a bath is one of the most challenging duties you'll have as a pet owner. Create a safe and efficient space where cleaning your pet will be a breeze. A floor-level shower is the ideal situation, as it will make getting in and out easier for your pup.

Pet Feeding Station

How to Make a Pet Feeding Station

How to Make a Pet Feeding Station

Create a custom feeding station that will make eating and drinking easier on your pet. Old wooden crates, boxes or stools can all be converted into a piece that's functional for your best friend and will look great in your home.

Consistency is key with a new dog, and setting up a place where they know where their food will go is important.

Stylish Mats



Feeding station mats are often afterthoughts meant more for keeping splashes of water off the floor, rather than adding style to a space. Instead of basic rubber mats or novelties, stick with indoor/outdoor 2X3 patterned rugs. Many styles such as this blue and white zig-zag are made from recycled materials which breathe easily and are easily washable with a garden hose.

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

My dogs love to drool after taking a big slurp of water, so mats are crucial. It minimizes the amount of water that ends up on the hardwood floors and they look great, too. Go with whatever style fits your decor, but make sure the material is easy to clean.

Banish the Bags



Banish those dog food bags from the home completely! Not only are dog food bags big, bulky and attractive to pests, dogs are likely to try to break into them if left within reach. Check out for classic, oversized tin canisters excellent for storing your dog’s food in style.

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

Store your dog's food in style with a canister. This will minimize pests and keep your dog from trying to sneak in an extra meal.

Doggie Front Door

Dog Leashes on Hooks

Dog Leashes on Hooks

While plastic retractable leashes can be considered eyesores, graphic traditional leashes are more decorative. Stash them near the door for a pop of pattern and to inspire you to head outdoors with your best friend.

You'll be going on a lot of walks with your dog, so keep the leash by the door you use the most. You'll always know where it is, and you won't keep Fido waiting.

Think you're ready to meet your new best friend? Check out some of our editors with their furry BFFs.

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Intern Katie Friedman with her dog Milo.

Photo by: Katie Friedman

Katie Friedman

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Managing editor Camille Smith's two dogs, Sophie (left) and Phoebe.

Photo by: Camille Smith

Camille Smith

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Managing editor Shannon Petrie's two dogs Freckles (left) and Mya.

Photo by: Shannon Petrie

Shannon Petrie

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Intern Maria Conti with her little volunteer, Theodore.

Photo by: Maria Conti

Maria Conti

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Editor Ryan Reed's two dogs, Blair (rear) and Beau, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Photo by: Ryan Reed

Ryan Reed

18 DIY Pet Costumes

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Fluttering Fairy or Butterfly

Their favorite jacket and a few inexpensive craft materials are all you need to magic up a (cute!) winged Halloween pet costume for your pup. Get crafting with our easy step-by-step instructions.

Photo By: H. Camille Smith

Last-Minute Lion's Mane

Need to whip up a pet costume on the fly? We've got you covered! This cute costume is comfy for your pet and can be constructed in about an hour. Turn your dog or cat into the king of the jungle with our tutorial.

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Groovy Rasta

Your pet will look positively Irie and ready to party in this fun Rastafarian wig and hat. A few craft store materials are all you need for this easy-to-make costume. Make your own with our step-by-step instructions

Court Jester

Honor your pup's inner goofball with a Halloween costume that celebrates his true colors. Colorful fabric remnants, basic machine sewing and our free printable costume templates make this a DIY project you can complete while binge-watching your favorite show. Get crafting with our step-by-step instructions

French Chef

Ooh-la-la! Your dog or cat will be the cutest chef on four legs in this crafty Halloween costume. Use tissue paper and card stock to create a mini version of a chef's toque blanche and a bit of red fabric to stitch up a jaunty neckerchief. Make your own with our step-by-step instructions

Ready for Business

Giving new meaning to the phrase, 'working like a dog,' this costume cleverly repurposes closet castoffs to create a costume that's easy on and off and is comfy for your pet. Our step-by-step instructions will help you dress your best friend for success.

Black Bat

Felt, pipe cleaners and a bit of Velcro are all you need to dress your furry friend as a winged bat for Halloween. This costume is not only easy to craft with our step-by-step instructions it's also lightweight so it's comfortable for your dog or cat. 

Little Bo Peep and Her Sheep

For HGTV fan Sara Alavi, dressing her girls up in Halloween costumes is a tradition. She chooses a new look each year based on pop culture trends or her pups' personalities. For this look, she was inspired by Jelly Bean, initially a timid rescue, who followed Sara's older pup, Darci, around like a lost little sheep. To create Darci's Little Bo Peep costume, Sara stitched up the dress herself then topped it off with a curly blonde dog wig (yes, there's such a thing) she bought online. Sara also crafted Jelly Bean's sheep costume using faux fur for the body and hood and pink felt for the interior of the ears. Velcro strips added to each costume ensure easy on and off should either pup become overheated.

Pretty as a Posy

Easily turn craft foam sheets into an oversized flower costume for your furball. Attaching the foam flower to your pet's harness ensures they can move freely and be comfortable while enjoying the Halloween festivities. Make your own with our step-by-step instructions.

Photo By: H. Camille Smith

Sea-Worthy Celeb-U-Pup

Not only is Eli the Chihuahua a ship-shape sailor, he's also a canine celebrity who starred in the reality series Doggie Moms on NYC life. His mom and HGTV fan, Karen Biehl, capped off Eli's sailor costume by adding star stickers, a bit of white ribbon and a thin elastic band to a paper ice cream cup to craft his diminutive sailor's hat.

Low-Sew Pinata Pup

This year, celebrate Halloween, fiesta-style, with your best friend. Easily craft a piñata-inspired costume for your dog using felt, hot glue and just a bit of hand stitching. Canine couture designer Kelly Owen shares her step-by-step instructions for crafting this costume for your little party animal.

Little Ladybug

Disguise your dog in a cute ladybug costume you can create in under an hour using basic craft materials and a no-sew method. Our easy step-by-step instructions make this adorable costume a snap.

Photo By: Rennai Hoefer, Ten22 Studio

Pooches From Far, Far Away

Leather shoelaces and a bit of brown felt are all HGTV fan samiam405 needed to dress her two pups up like the furry Ewoks of Star Wars fame. Cutting holes to accommodate their ears ensures her furkids are comfortable.

Royal Wedding Attendees

The fashion-forward hats sported by Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice at Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding weren't just a hit in royal circles, they also made quite an impression on HGTV fan Sara Alavi who began work on her pups' elaborate Halloween costumes soon after the royal wedding. To construct Princess Eugenie's blue hat, Sara used craft foam sheets secured with hot glue. Stretch cording keeps the hat comfortably on pup Darci's head while wispy white feathers and a purple rosette complete the look. For Princess Beatrice's fascinator, the trick was finding a flexible material that's also lightweight enough for pup Jelly Bean's small size. Sara used pipe cleaners, covered by a stitched tube of gold fabric, to replicate the twisting ribbon shape. An elastic band wasn't strong enough to prevent shifting so Sara stitched the ribbon to a fabric-covered disk that's sewn directly onto a blonde dog wig.

Arrgh, Me Kitties

Dressing your cat for Halloween is a rite attempted by only the bravest of pet owners — but, if your cat is willing, take a cue from HGTV fan Queen1Cat and turn your landlocked kitty into a seafaring rogue with a custom-stitched puffy shirt and felt pirate's hat. Just be sure to sleep with one eye open for a while.

King of the Beasts

A Great Dane is sure to turn heads any day — but add a furry lion's mane and tail and you can literally stop traffic. HGTV fan FriscoChick put her sewing skills to work to stitch up a thick, faux fur mane to slide over her pup's head. A soft, fabric covered band over his nose attaches to the inside of the mane to prevent it from shifting.

A Pack of Pugs

Many owners of pugs will tell you: You can't stop at just one. Clearly, HGTV fan bratlaw feels the more pugs, the merrier. She outfitted her 5 pups to resemble a favorite candy that's also better by the bunch. To make the costumes, she sewed colorful fabric remnants, filled with a thin foam circle, into round pillows that she then embellished with iron-on letters. A small fabric loop that attaches to their collars plus a wide strap that velcros under each pup's middle keep the pillows from shifting.

Count Kittula

HGTV fan Debbie Richmond is one of those souls brave enough to dress her cats for Halloween. To ensure the Halloween costume doesn't cause them to overheat, she chooses lightweight fabrics, like this nylon cape, that can easily be removed.

Headless Horseman

Trick-or-treaters will definitely do a double-take of this clever Halloween costume that uses toddler-size clothing on a well-crafted body to resemble the Headless Horseman and his horse, Daredevil. HGTV fan newfy1_5226167 is the creative genius behind this amazing pet costume that actually weighs in at less than 5 pounds total and even includes a custom-stitched saddle and bridle to accurately recreate the look.

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