Adding a new member to your family is a big life decision. As cute as they are, dogs also come with not-so-cute chores and lifestyle changes. Before you go to the humane society or rescue shelter (adopt, don’t shop!), there are a lot of things you need to consider.
1. Get the Timing Right
Timing is everything for adopting a dog. If you’re about to move, if you have young children or are about to have kids, or if you have a time-consuming job, then it may not be the right time to add a dog or puppy to your household.
Dogs are very adaptable, but the first few weeks of them being home with you will shape your entire relationship with them. It’s essential that you are both as comfortable and stable as possible to get off on the right foot.
2. Evaluate Your Home Environment
Some dogs need a yard, while others are perfectly happy in apartments. If you rent, consider the size of the apartment, the access to a yard or dog park, and breed restrictions. For example, a husky isn’t well suited for an apartment due to their size and energy levels, but an American Bulldog won’t need a big yard to run around in.
Read next: The Friendliest Pets to Have – Ranked!
3. Consider Behavioral Needs
All dogs boast different personalities — one Labrador will be vastly different from another, even if they’re related. One could be fully invested in hunting, while the other might prefer to chase their food bowl.
Additionally, every dog also has their own history and background to consider. Most shelter dogs will have their history listed, but some may not be known by shelter staff. Be sure to find out if they’re good in apartments, with pets, with children, with males or females, and if they’re used to being alone or prefer company.
4. Know Their Medical Needs
All dogs come with the risk of health problems. Things like kennel cough, torn ACLS, fleas, heartworm, and more are all extremely common for most breeds. Some dogs also have special needs, such as dietary problems, vitamin supplements, or dental problems.
Vet bills, annual immunizations, and special food and treats are all expensive investments. Thankfully, pet insurance can help with these payments, as well as covering surprise surgery costs for injuries. If you’re getting a dog, considering their medical needs and pet insurance is a must!
Read next: Reasons: Why to adopt a Shelter Pet?
5. Prepare a Support System
Your entire household should be involved in the process. They have to live with the dog too, so they should be a part of the decision. Figure out who will share the responsibility of caring for the dog? Who will help to train him? Are your kids (if you have them) able to help with the dog?
If you live alone, you’ll need a support system too. You’ll need help taking care of your dog from time to time. That’s perfectly normal. Ask if friends and family would be willing to help or if they’d be willing to watch your dog if you need to leave your house for long periods of time. This support system will be invaluable.
6. Emotional and Mental Health Boost
Of course, dogs also offer unconditional love. While living with a dog isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, the love they provide makes up for all of that and more. When your pup is there to cheer you up, make you laugh, or help you calm down, there will be no question in your mind about how much you love them and how much they love you. There really is nothing quite like it.
And your dog can also add to stress during the initial training phase, but that should diminish over time.
7. Do You Have the Patience to Break Bad Habits?
Dogs are amazing, but that doesn’t mean it will always be easy to take care of them.
You have to remember that every dog has a past. The dog you meet may not be the same dog after you bring them home. They will come out of their shell as they get comfortable with you and will show you their real personality.
With this comes habits. Though old dogs can learn new tricks, it takes a lot of repetition, positive reinforcement, and patience to break old habits. You may have to go through a few pairs of shoes or invest in a handheld carpet cleaner until those habits are broken.
8. You May Regret Your Decision
Finally, you may also regret your decision. We wanted to preface this by saying it is completely normal to regret adopting a dog. It can be overwhelming and you may not have been as ready as you thought you were. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a sign to give up on your new pup just yet. You’re both adjusting. Adjusting takes time. Show yourself the same patience you’re showing them.
Give your dog a chance. Train them, love them, and don’t give up. With time, commitment, and work, you’ll forget all about those doubts.
If you’ve read through this blog and those 8 things sit well with you, then you may be ready to adopt a dog. Just remember that adopting a dog is a huge decision. Give you and your pup enough time to ensure it’s the best decision you ever made. If you do adopt one, give them an extra treat from us!