Adding a dog to your household is no small task. Gone are the days when a puppy was bestowed as a birthday or Christmas gift. Dogs are now regarded as significant members of the family, and rightly so, as they require a 10- to 15-year commitment.
Planning to adopt a dog takes consideration — the merchandise alone can boggle your mind: chew toys, crates, or dog beds.
Before adopting a dog:
- Decide where you’ll get one. You have many different options of where to look for a dog. You could visit animal shelters near you or browse pet adoption websites. If you have a specific breed in mind you could locate a breeder or check out a pet store. Everyone’s different, and it’s up to you to decide what’s right for you. No matter which avenue you take, do your homework. Research the organization, breeder, or store you decide to go with. Ask friends or family members for recommendations. Remember, cute puppies grow up to be adult-sized dogs. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you make a lifetime commitment to your pet!
- Choose a Veterinarian. One of your first priorities when getting a new dog is to find a veterinarian. There are probably a lot of clinics or hospitals in your area, and specialties can vary. Search by zip code in our directory and look up reviews. A veterinarian is an important aspect of pet ownership and will be a factor throughout the life of your dog.
- Consider your family. Lifestyle is a huge consideration when bringing a dog into the family. Do you have small children under the age of 10? Or are you planning for them in the future? In that case, you might want to stick to larger, good-natured breeds, such as Labradors and golden retrievers. On the other hand, if you have older family members living with you, think about getting an older, more mellow dog. Puppies may have too much energy!
- Think about your home. If you live in an apartment, you might want to go with a breed that isn’t known for being high energy. Breeds like basset hounds or pugs tend to be an excellent choice for apartment living and can tolerate a leash walk a couple of times a day. If you live on a farm or have an active outdoor lifestyle, consider a dog that can accompany you on runs, or one that enjoys playing ball in the field.
- Select a caretaker. Who will be the primary caretaker of your new pet? Will someone else in the household besides you be responsible for feeding, care, and walks? What about obedience classes, and lessons at home? These are all decisions to make ahead of time. Make sure you have at least one person who takes responsibility for your pet, and everyone in your household is on board with this new situation. Consistency in training is most important for a new pet. All family members must be aware of schedules for feeding and walking the dog, as well as monitoring behavioral patterns and offering training treats.
- Evaluate your lifestyle. Will your dog be able to accompany you to work? Is he going to be a part of your daily activities, or is his presence going to mean another activity for you? Are you interested in dog sports, such as agility, dock diving, or field trials? There are all factors to consider. Dogs are pack animals. They are extremely social and crave interaction, and they give back a hundredfold.
- Create a budget for dog expenses. Be sure to include the cost of pet food, toys, a crate, collars and leashes, veterinary services, grooming and money for emergencies into your family budget. Consider pet health insurance.
Follow these steps and you’ll be ready to welcome a dog into your home. Regardless of what breed you choose, keep your individual pet’s needs a priority. Give him the best care and love you can and enjoy the new addition to your family!