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Ready for a new puppy? This National Puppy Day, choose the adoption option to help find loving homes for homeless puppies across the country

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They’re fun, they’re fluffy, and even their breath is adorable. Puppies are hard to resist!

With National Puppy Day coming up on March 23, Best Friends Animal Society, a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of shelter pets in 2025, is encouraging those who want to add a new puppy to their family to choose the adoption option.

According to the most recent data from Petfinder.com, there are currently more than 47,000 puppies up for adoption at shelters and rescue groups across the country, with the largest number of adoptable puppies located in California, Texas, Washington, New York, and Illinois.

“Big, small, short or tall, now is a great time to open your home to a puppy from your local shelter or rescue group,” said Julie Castle, CEO, Best Friends Animal Society. “Not only will you save a life and not support inhumane puppy mills — where female dogs are bred as frequently as possible and both male and female dogs spend their lives in small, dirty, stacked, wire-bottomed cages — you’ll also be part of the movement to make America a no-kill country in 2025.”

To celebrate National Puppy Day, Best Friends is offering the following tips to new puppy parents that will set both them and their puppies up for success in and out of the home:

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  • Expose puppies to a variety of sounds, scents, surfaces, and objects. The idea is to help puppies become comfortable with typical experiences they will continue to encounter as adult dogs.
  • Watch the puppy’s body language to determine whether they’re feeling safe and happy during new interactions. Let puppy’s take things at their own speed; don’t force them into situations in which they appear to be uncomfortable.
  • In all cases, interrupt play if a dog appears to be stressed. It’s crucial you keep dog interactions as positive as possible during this crucial learning time.
  • It’s good practice to allow adult dogs to give appropriate and necessary feedback to puppies, such as correction for biting. This will help puppies become socially appropriate adults.
  • Because puppies are vulnerable to certain diseases (such as parvo, distemper, and hepatitis), avoid public places like sidewalks and parks frequented by other dogs until the puppy is fully vaccinated. It is a good idea, however, to take puppies on car rides and carry them around in public, so they can experience the world while having minimal exposure to pathogens.
  • After receiving a veterinarian’s blessing to take the new pup out into the world, introduce them to the delights of going for walks, to the park, or to someone’s home.
  • Lots of positive exposure to people is the most important part of puppy socialization. Ensure that people are interacting appropriately as well—no crowding, no over-petting or handling, petting a dog from the side, etc.
  • Puppies need to know what is and isn’t appropriate play behavior. They should be taught that playing with toys is fun and rewarding, while biting or mouthing people never results in an encouraging response from a human.
  • To teach them that it is normal and appropriate to be left alone at times, puppies over 8 weeks old should have some “alone time” every day.
  • After giving your pup enough exercise to tire them out, leave them alone in a puppy-safe enclosure or crate. You can also put puppies in the kitchen with a baby gate preventing access to the rest of the house. Provide toys and pee pads. Gradually work up to leaving the pup alone for longer periods of time.

“By spending the time to socialize and train your puppy, you are setting them up to become a well-behaved adult dog that will thrive in your home,” Castle said. “This is the best way to make sure your puppy and your family have a lifelong relationship that everyone can enjoy.”

Visit bestfriends.org to find a local shelter or rescue to adopt a new puppy or dog.