Resources, Answers, Links… for New Dogs & Other Animals (from a shelter volunteer)

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As a volunteer that consults with the public, about dogs (and other animals) and that gets asked for advice, this list is to give links in order to help with some of the most common questions. Nothing about this page is official advice, please do your own research and seek help from professionals.

Getting a pet is a lifetime commitment, if you can not make that commitment, consider fostering, volunteering, pet sitting, dog walking, or stuffed toy animals. And if you can only make a two or three-year commitment, then consider a very very senior pet.

(I am not a professional I am a citizen that attempts to help make transitions smarter and safer. It’s not success to get a dog out of the shelter, it’s success to make happy families that keep the dog for a lifetime. This page is a work in progress to attempt to help.)

(A few happy videos on the bottom of the page.)

Apologies for temporarily blacking out certain links.


12. OFFICIAL LINKS LAAS (found pet, lost pet, spay/neuter…)

Consider these simple questions…
Article “What Dog Is Right For You” –

First off there are many places to volunteer to help people or animals. Do a search online, for your location, with your interests. There are shelters, rescues, sanctuaries, zoos… and that’s just with animals. I personally have volunteered with several different organizations.

How can I help animals at Los Angeles Animal Services?
Again, I’m a citizen, not an employee, these are just opinions of a member of the public that has volunteered for the City of Los Angeles. For exact information, contact a staff member.
– How Can I Help? –
– Volunteer Application LAAS –
– What Does It Take To Be a Volunteer Dog Walker At North Central (CURRENTLY CHANGING) –
– I am interested in volunteering, but I am afraid I couldn’t emotionally handle it…
– I filled out an application, but it’s been over 5 weeks, and still haven’t heard anything… Did you check your spam folder?
– I used to volunteer there, well I did part of the process, I never finished training… Hold on fella, I don’t work for LAAS. Contact them. It’s their job to answer you.

– I hate that I have to put this here, but… some people won’t stop surrendering pets. So, the least they can do is read this, and surrender a pet to give it the best opportunity for possibly being re-homed. Know that not every surrendered animal is fortunate to get out. Some literally can’t adjust to the hard life at a shelter, just like some people would go mad in a concrete and steel kennel, not having anything to do, not going out for weeks at a time. Anyway, have them read this…
– Have they reached out for help? Try this site…
– Need help rehoming –
– Need other types of help? –
– A little story you might want to send them…

4. WE LOVE SEEING UPDATES, PHOTOS from former North Central Animals…
– Tom’s Instagram (pics & videos) –
– Tom’s Facebook Page –
– North Central Volunteer Run Instagram Page –
– North Central Volunteer Run Facebook Page –

– Lost or new pet –
– Listed Dogs at LAAS –
– Consider a Senior Pet –

– Paws For LIfe K9 Mission Hills –
– PFLK9 Prison Program –

7. INTERVIEWS & ARTICLES (me talking about dog stuff)
*Animal Talk, All About Animals Radio
*Pet Pardon “Why I Volunteer”
*Canine Connection (podcast)
*The Eastsider –
*The Click – The Furgotten –
*Get The Dog You Are Right For –
*Web Interview Medical Intuitive Show 14, Jan 2020 –

– K9 Youth Alliance – Sara & Kelly explain K9Youth Alliance –
– Dogs Playing For Life –
– Paws For Life K9 –
– Foster For Life –
– What does OTC mean? It simply means that the dog was processed over the counter. Not picked up. Not abandoned at the gate. I really don’t think it’s important information at all for the public or volunteers. I personally don’t know why they track it, or list it.
– What does POS OWNER mean?
– What does REDEEMED mean? The animal was reclaimed by the original owner.
– What does “Rescue Only” mean?
– What is #1forAnimals about? or

(I am not a professional I am a volunteer that attempts to help make transitions smarter and safer. It’s not success to get a dog out of the shelter, it’s success to make happy families that keep the dog for a lifetime.)
– There is no “maybe.” Whenever I do a pet adoption, it’s either a definite YES, a non-sure, or it’s a no. If you’re not sure if the animal is right for you, think it over, walk away, and look at others. Go to other shelters. You are making a lifetime commitment. Sometimes decades-long (turtles, birds, cats). It won’t be all rainbows and lollipops.
– Once you have found them, never let them go. If you know the song, great. If not, it doesn’t matter. Pets are one of a kind. But basically, if you know that it’s the right pet for you. 100%. And you’re 100% ready to make a lifetime commitment. Don’t wait. Don’t wait for a discount. Don’t go to the car to talk about it. With no exaggeration… I have seen this scenario happen at least four times. Someone was convinced it was the perfect match. I felt great about it. Tears filled everyone’s eyes. And for whatever reason, they didn’t pull the trigger, and while they were in the car talking it over… someone else saw the animal and adopted them. I’ve even seen the people who went to think about it, witness the animal leaving with their new family as the original interested party was getting out of their car to get the dog. Guess what, too late. Don’t hesitate if you 100% know.
– Secure your new pet in your vehicle. Everything is new to your new friend. You. The car. The smells. The sound of the engine. Everything. Set yourself up for success by securing your new family member. Crate, harness, separator, or leash. I personally use a dog crate folded up as a barrier between the seats. We don’t know how individuals will react. We don’t want them coming up front while you’re driving until you both know each other MUCH BETTER. And no reason to comfort them, they are going through a lot of emotions, just like you would be. Let them relax.
– Go slower than you think you should. Keep it boring. Imagine you’ve been locked up, and you don’t know why. Finally, you get out. You’re going to need time to decompress. Days. You might want to party, you might want to sleep, you might be afraid of everything, and you might make social mistakes. BE FORGIVING. See things from the animal’s perspective, not your own. Don’t ask for too much those first few days. Go slow. Make it boring. Consider the rule of threes. 3 days to decompress. 3 weeks to settle in. 3 months to be comfortable.
Please consider watching this quick Instagram reel with advice (with sound on):
– Walk a mile on their paws. See things through their eyes. Have empathy. Yes, they’re animals, but they all have pasts, histories, feelings, thoughts, fears, insecurities, nerves, foibles… They are all individuals.
– Keep your circle small. The dog doesn’t know you. Doesn’t know your relationships. Don’t throw a ton of new people at the dog right away. Again, consider life from the dog’s perspective. Introduce people and pets slowly, over time. Go slow. Make things boring.
Just Walk. If every time the dog looks up at you, you’re looking at them, they may think you’re insecure. That you’re looking to them for answers. Or start making them nervous. This of it this way, how do you feel when every time you glance at your boss, teacher, or drill instructor they’re looking at you? Probably not always great. At some point might you start to wonder about them? Be observant without letting the dog you are being observant. Correct behaviors before or as they start. Pretend to be confident if you have to. Stand straight. Know where you’re going. It’s your walk, and they’re walking with you. Have a plan on what to do when other dogs are on their walks or when people approach. Your new friend wants you to be the leader. You’ve made the decision to be a pack leader, lead your pack. This doesn’t mean being mean or never looking at them… again, think of a teacher or boss… It has to be balanced. There has to be a little praise put in there when things are done well or correctly but use it sparingly.
Feeding your new pet. The official answer is, “Consult with your vet.” The unofficial answer is to find out what food the shelter has been using, and the schedule. Keep that for a few days… Then if you want to start slowly mixing in your preferred brand, mix in a little more each day.
Stress. Remember, everything is new to your new pet. So go slow. You are new. Your family is new. Your car is new. Your house is new. Your food is new. Smells are new. Neighbors are new. Sounds are new. The carpets are new. Walks are new. EVERYTHING IS NEW and they’ve been living in concrete and steel surrounded by barking dogs or cranky cats for days, weeks, months or years.
– Affection. Go easy with affection. Slow. They don’t know you. So keep it minimal. Calm. Pace yourself. Remember “slow and boring.” Second, if you give them a ton of love the first three days, and then half as much on the fourth day, and work eight hours on the fifth, what do you think your animal is going to expect or do? Get them used to the actual routine, and we recommend crate training from moment one.
Introducing children is tricky. Protect both your new friend from making mistakes and your young one from pushing buttons. Kids are unpredictable and erratic. They can have wild mood swings and test boundaries. Some kids like to get reactions from people and creatures. Never leave them unsupervised. Introduce slowly. Establish boundaries… “No one touches the go when they’re in their bedroom (crate).” Kids like to run for no reason or scream, and both of these things can influence a dog’s behaviors and excitement. Some dogs like to herd. So make it boring. Go slow. Take the excitement out of it. Exercise the animal first. Make sure it’s a calm environment. No other animals around. Have the dog on a leash. Have the animal sit. Have the child approach from the side in a non-threatening manner. Let the dog smell your child. Don’t have your child reach toward the dog’s face. Watch for uncomfortably in the dog or child. Don’t force either one. Use patience and your best judgment. If you’re having an issue with either your child or the animal, don’t proceed at that time. Protect both.
– Insurance. Consider getting before your first visit to the vet, or as early as you can. Before you find out about any pre-existing conditions. Yes, animals need vet care.
Be consistent. Know your family/house rules before you bring the animal home. If they’re allowed on the couch, know that before they come home. Establish a walking/potty schedule for the dog so they can start to count on you being there. Don’t pet a dog that’s jumping on you while telling them to get down, you’ll send mixed messages. Be gentle, but firm. Dogs do best with structure, rules, and consistency.
Correct as or before. After the fact, it’s basically too late. You want to correct an animal as the shift or thought is happening, at the latest at the beginning of the behavior. Raise your awareness.
Be gentle but firm. Your dog is looking for a leader, and if it’s not you, it might be them. Commands are not questions. They are not meek. They are not mean or cruel, but they should be firm and definite. Your dog looks to you for guidance.
Keep yourself in check. Dogs are incredible creatures. They pick up on what people are feeling all around them. If you’re nervous, many dogs will try to figure out why, and fix it. If you don’t seem in control, some dogs will take over control. If you’re balanced and confident, your dog will be much more relaxed. “Oh, they got this, I don’t have to worry about anything.”
Dogs are athletes. Do you think you’re in shape? Dogs require exercise. Some breeds and individuals require massive amounts of it. Without it, they may act out in frustration. Don’t get a dog that is way above your energy level. Don’t get a dog that is beyond your strength.
Many dogs are workers. All dogs require stimulation. Some dogs need “work” to stay stimulated. If you don’t give them a job, they’ll create their own. Like guarding a fence, or a food bowl. Keep them engaged and stimulated so they don’t get frustrated and potentially decide to disassemble your furniture.
Protect them. Make sure your screen door is secure. Your fence is plenty high. We’ve heard of dogs jumping over fences. Climbing over fences. Chewing through fences. Leaping through glass windows. Rushing out open doors. Digging under fences. Maintain your gates and make sure your fencing is secure. That includes keeping predator animals out. And make sure they’re getting enough exercise, work, socialization, and stimulation.
Socialize them. If you get a younger dog. Work on socializing them early. If you get an older dog, they too might benefit from playing with other dogs. Go slow. Consult professionals on the best way to go about this.
Keep them leashed in public. Even if your dog is the most amazing dog in the world, not everyone is comfortable with dogs. Not every other dog is comfortable with dogs. If there is an altercation, it’s highly likely that the dog off the leash will lose in court, regardless of how great the dog is. Also, dogs are dogs. You can’t predict what might flip what switch when… and if you’re hiking and your dog sticks his nose on a rattlesnake, or takes off after a rabbit… Well… protect your dogs.
Animals are always communicating. They are constantly reading us, our feelings, our body postures, our cues. We need to be constantly reading what cues, and signals they are sending. They will never speak our language, so we need to learn theirs. Learn how to speak dog, a wagging tail does not always mean a happy friendly dog. Raise your dog IQ. What does a wagging tail mean? What does a dog yawning mean? Licking their lips? Shaking their body? What does it mean if their hackles raise? Do you know the difference between a bite, nip, attack, argument, communication, fight, or… what-have-you? There are many other signs, signals, and behaviors you should become aware of so you can better speak dog.
Other pets introductions. Go slow. Protect both animals. Do intros on leashes. Best at a place no dog may have ownership. Remove all toys. No treats. No affection. Don’t want to have any sort of resource guarding. Take both animals on a walk, you and your friend. Start a distance away. Make it boring. Slowly decrease the distance between the two of you. If it gets exciting, increase the distance. Imagine you’re at a party and someone that just enters the front door, sees you, runs up to you, and loudly says, “Hey, we’re going to be best friends”, or worse, throws their arms around you with exuberance, and squeezes you tight, declaring how much they love you. You would have a drastically different reaction than if you noticed them enter, and then ten minutes later they were a little closer, and then by the end of the night, you’re next to each other, and one of you says calmly says, “hello.” Pet intros are a complex thing, as dogs have various histories, play styles, temperaments… Consider researching this further. Also, know how YOUR original animal does with various dogs BEFORE you bring the new animal home. The fewer unknowns the better. Go slow. Seek help. You can’t unring a bell. Make it boring.
Don’t drown them in affection. You’re establishing the rest of your lives together. If you spend the first three days giving them hours of affection, what happens on the fourth day when you go out for four hours. Make it boring. Make it routine. And remember, they don’t know you at all in the beginning, they don’t know what your arrangement is or what you’re thinking. Go slow.
Don’t hug a new or unfamiliar animal. Hugging is a human thing. To animals, it can be very threatening. They only have three things they can do, freeze, flee, or fight. If you hug them, you take away one of those options.
Your new pet stinks. You would too if you were living in concrete and steel for weeks. Again, think like an animal… If you were scooped up by people you didn’t know. Put in a car you didn’t know. Brought to a home you didn’t know. How might you react if someone were to throw you in a tub of water right away? Consider using a damp towel for the first week, or puppy wipes… If you can’t stand it. Consider bringing them to a professional groomer. Tell the groomer, “I don’t know this dog. I just got them. Here are the behavior notes I was given.” If the dog has a great experience, GREAT. If it’s a bad experience, then the dog blames the groomer, the groomer’s shop, and not you. If you start off your relationship by losing an animal’s trust by throwing them in a tub, you’re not going to get it back quickly.
Introduce your home/yard. Don’t just throw your pet in your backyard. Walk your new friend around your home and yard. Your leash is your bond. Establish that it’s your home, your couch, If you’re going to allow the dog on the couch, then sit on the couch. Have others sit on the couch. Then invite the dog up. It’s your couch.
Crate train. More dogs get returned because of people, not crate training. It gives both you and your new friend a safe place for them to be if guests or little kids come over. It gives you peace of mind when you sleep or go out that they won’t get into things. It encourages them to hold their water until you return, because who wants to pee in their own bed? Don’t see it as a punishment, look at it as a gift, you are giving that animal a safe place. Their own private bedroom, in your house.
Dog bites hurt. Biting is one-way animals communicate. Go slow. While you might have to take some antibiotics or get stitches… a dog that has bitten someone drastically reduces their chances of ever getting out of a shelter. Often one mistake of misreading communication cost them their life, whether or not it was their mistake, yours., or your neighbors. Don’t panic if they occur. Keep your wits, and address the situation without emotion. Reduce the chances by always reading your animals, and being prepared for events that might occur. Learn about breaking up fights, or what to do in various situations, before they happen to you. When they occur they can happen extremely fast so the more you are prepared the better everyone will be.
– My Personal Adoption Process When Showing Dogs Sometimes I take breaks from being an adoption counselor, this was written during one of those breaks to share with others if they were interested.
Advocate. I know you have empathy. I know you love animals. I know you’ll never surrender your animal. However, not everyone sees things through an animal’s eyes. Consider sharing information on social media once a month. Info about microchipping, training, tips… We can lessen the number of animals in the shelter system if WE all get the right information out there. The higher percentage of better-trained dogs in dog parks, the better for everyone. The less in the ER ahead of you when your pet has an issue. The less in shelters. The fewer strays running around attacking you or your leashed dog. Advocate.

Is this animal available? At the top of every kennel-card is an available date. The only way that does not hold true is if the animal is surrendered by the owner. Then the animal is instantly available.
Is it guaranteed that an animal will be available on the date listed? No. It’s likely but not 100% guaranteed. Animals are people’s pets. Loved ones. Family members. The city does try to get them back to their original homes. Sometimes extensions can be made. Sometimes. At times someone will come forward and surrender an animal that was found, so they are released for adoption earlier. Sometimes. Not always. And it usually requires an excellent reason and a definitive exit plan.
– Are all animals available for foster? No. As a general rule, only animals that have been with us for a number of days (two weeks?) that don’t have medical marks or behavior marks.
– What’s an example of why I tell people to keep their hands out of the kennels?
What happens after I decide on an animal? At North Central, we grab their kennel card. We walk the animal and you to the receiving desk. We hand the card and animal over to a staff member. The animal goes to the back to be looked over by the medical department. They look them over. Make sure they have all their shots. That they are chipped. They scan the animal one final time for existing chips. You get the okay. You pay for the licensing or fees at the clerks’ counter. You pick up your animal once you show you’ve done all the necessary paperwork and paid the necessary fees.
– What to do if I see a lost dog?
– How much does it cost to adopt? Ask a staff member or look it up online. I don’t get involved with that. I’m not in sales.
– What does it take to be a big dog walking volunteer at North Central?
– Why post animals that are terrified, sad, or defensive?
– Why do I typically only post animals I personally know?
– I am interested in volunteering, but I am afraid I couldn’t emotionally handle it…
– Never Put Anything In A Dog Kennel
– My Personal Thoughts on “No Kill”
– My Young Dog is Crazy Active About Balls
– Dog Walking Shelter Dogs Is Like Jazz

(Raise your Dog, Cat, Bunny… IQ for a happier pet. I am not affiliated nor do I officially endorse the following links… Do your own research, seek info… These are just a few links to get you started. Always consider consulting with a professional animal behaviorist/trainer.)
– Pet help – Search for free or low-cost pet support services –
– Need help rehoming –
– New Dog Training/Advice Blue Man Dog –
– Krista Goodsitt of Goodsitt Dogs gives some helpful advice –
– New Dog Help –
– Rule of 3’s –
– Read a Dog’s Body Language –
– Interpreting a Wagging Tail –
– Dog Training & Socialization –
– Slow Intros For Foster or Adding New Dogs –
– Introducing Kids & Dogs –
– Crate Training –
– How to Speak Dog –
– How to Understand Your Dog Better –
– Tips for a New Dog –
– Socializing Dogs –
– Separation Anxiety in Dogs-
– Jumpy/Mouthy Dogs –
– Vet Advice –
– Guinea Pig Advice –
– Tips for New Cat Owners
– Tips for Rabbit Care –

12. REMOVED for now.

13. Popular Posts
– Popular Story
– Knife Injury (didn’t make me stop using knives)
– One Dog’s Transition
– Pro Tip for the guys
– Protect your dogs, even those that you got to protect you
– What would it take to walk every dog, every day
– What can I do to help?
– Get the pet that YOU are right for
– What do I do if I see a lost dog?
– I visited a Ventura County Shelter
– He was just in the wrong house –

14. The best advice I can give to new volunteers, foster families, and volunteers…
turn sound on.