Adopting a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. The love and loyalty that dogs show their owners is incredible. But getting a dog requires careful planning to help ensure that the relationship you build will be both positive and long-lasting.
Are you wondering, “Should I get a dog?” Here are just a few of the things to consider before you decide to bring a new family member home.
Make Sure of Your Commitment Level
Getting a dog involves much more than going to a shelter, breeder, or pet store and picking one out. You need to ask yourself a lot of questions before you make your choice, to make sure you’re ready to commit.
- Will you or someone else in your home be able to walk the dog four, five, or six days a week?
- Will someone be willing to pick up the dog’s “business” in the backyard on a regular basis?
- Can you commit to regularly grooming your pup?
Can you afford it? Veterinary bills, even for checkups, can run into the hundreds of dollars.
- You have to be ready to put in the time (and money) necessary in order to make sure your new dog will be as healthy and happy as possible.
Consider Your Lifestyle When Getting a Dog
One of the most important considerations when figuring out how to choose a dog will be breed.
Certain breeds are more compatible with certain lifestyles. If you’re an active, high-energy person, for example, then a high-energy dog might be right for you. If you’re more laid back, a more passive breed would probably be the best fit.1 Some breeds are more prone to health problems than others, so take that into consideration as well.
The last thing you want to do is to make the mistake of having to find a new home for the dog because they aren’t a good match. If you already have children, or other pets, do a little research beforehand to find out which breeds will be most likely to get along with them.
Choose Your Veterinarian
You not only want to make the best decision when it comes to getting a dog, but also selecting your vet. Talk to friends or family members with dogs who live nearby, and see if they have any recommendations for a veterinarian. Look at online reviews of vets in the neighborhood. Once you find the vet you believe will provide your pet with the best care, talk to them about which breeds might be best for your home.
Should I Get a Young Dog or an Older Dog?
This is another very important question you need to ask yourself before adopting a dog. Puppies are awesome, but they usually take a lot of work. You need to feed them multiple times a day. You also need to potty train them, so they don’t have any accidents inside your home. Puppies also need obedience training.
And, just like human babies, puppies tend to cry at night. You’ll need to set up a crate with a bed so that your puppy has a safe, comfortable place to sleep. If you’re home during the day, you can let your pup roam freely through the house – as long as you carefully supervise them. Talk to your vet about how to properly crate train your puppy. Crate training can help you, and your new dog, adjust.2
On the other hand, an older dog will probably already be housebroken. They may also know some basic commands, and they may be calmer than a younger dog. Also, if you rescue a dog from a shelter, you’ll very likely have an appreciative, loving companion who will be well behaved.3
There really is no right or wrong choice. Again, both puppies and older dogs are great. Purebred dogs are wonderful, but so are mutts. Just take the time and consider what type of dog will fit in best with your home routine.
Getting Your Home Ready – Inside
You’ll want to make your home a safe, welcoming environment before getting a dog. This means making sure there aren’t any hazards that could cause health problems. This includes securing low cabinets that contain chemicals, such as detergent or pesticides. Keep your home clear of any items that could possibly be a choking hazard, such as small toys. You’ll also want to make sure there are no electrical cords that your dog could get to.
Puppies love to chew on things while they’re teething. So, keep your shoes and socks put away in a place where your new pup won’t be able to reach them. Also, keep your trash can securely closed at all times.
There are also many types of plants that are toxic to dogs.
Talk to your vet, or look online, to find out what plants in your home could cause issues.4 If these plants are accessible to the dog, find a place to hang them, or otherwise get them out of the way. If you’re getting a full-grown dog, they might be able to reach your kitchen countertops. Make sure they’re clear of potentially toxic foods or other items.5
You’ll also want to consider getting some basic supplies for your new family member. These include:
- Poop bags
- Water bowls
- A leash
- A collar
- A dog bed
- Dog toys
In many cases, shelters or breeders will provide some food to take home with you, so you don’t have to immediately make a major change to your dog’s diet. Talk to your vet about the best food for your dog moving forward.
It’s important that you don’t go overboard when it comes to buying supplies before getting a dog. For example, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on toys that the dog won’t play with. Try two or three different toys at first, to see which one they like the best.
Getting Your Home Ready – Outside
Before you adopt a dog, make sure you get the outside of your home ready. You’ll need to have a way to keep your dog from running away, of course. Check the area along your fence to see if there are spots it would be easy for a dog to dig through.
If you don’t have a fence, you’ll either need to set up a long dog run, or look into invisible fencing. And there are definitely both pros and cons to this idea. An invisible fence is set up in a way that it first sends a warning sound to a special collar worn by the dog if they get too close to the boundary line. If the dog crosses the line, the system sends a shock to the collar. While this type of fence is typically affordable and usually effective, the shock can be frightening, as well as painful.6
You might want to consider at least installing a regular fence in a portion of your yard, so your dog can safely run around and go to the bathroom.
Bringing the Dog Home
So, you’ve adopted your new dog. Now, it’s time to bring them home! This is an exciting, overwhelming experience for your new pooch. They will need some time to get acclimated to their new surroundings. If you have other pets, you’ll need to introduce them very carefully. Remain as calm as possible, and let them get to know each other.
Give all of your pets an equal amount of attention, so there’s no jealousy. If possible, bring the new dog home on the weekend, or whenever you can spend a few days at home.7
Make sure your new dog has had all the vaccinations he or she needs. Any reputable breeder or shelter will be able to let you know which shots the dog has had, and which ones might be due. Take the dog to the vet for an examination to make sure there aren’t any surprise health problems.
You should also seriously consider having your dog microchipped. This is a painless, fast process that will give you a great deal of peace of mind. If your dog should happen to escape, the microchip can be key to getting them back home. Also, make sure that your dog’s collar has an identification tag that lists your name, address, and phone number.8
Wrapping it Up
As you can see, there is a lot of thought you’ll need to put into getting a dog. The more planning you do before you bring your pooch home, the better the transition will be for everyone. Remember, you can always talk to your vet, your friends, or your family members who have pets if you need any advice.
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