Photo by @palmettomoonointers
Picture this: You’re out for a stroll on a gorgeous day, and suddenly, an adorable puppy is bounding towards you. You pet him, you tell him how cute he is, and you think to yourself, “I should get a puppy.” We’re all guilty of this – if you say you’re not, I don’t believe you. However, whether you’re planning on buying a puppy or adopting an older dog, there are certain factors you need to take into consideration before bringing a new dog home.
Let’s start with the basics.
1. Are you allowed to have pets where you live? The idea of having a dog to keep you company is wonderful, but it is important to consider restrictions by your landlord or building management company. Many apartments, especially in cities, have breed or size restrictions, or don’t allow dogs at all. Unless you own your home, make sure your landlord is okay with the specific breed you plan to get, and ask whether there is an increased cost in rent.
2. Can you afford a dog? Dogs are expensive, regardless of whether you get a puppy or an older dog. According to the ASPCA, annual dog care costs range from $420-$780, and that doesn’t include unexpected trips to the vet, or moments of weakness when you see a dog toy that your furry friend just “has to have.”
3. Do you have time for a dog? A dog is not like a fish – you can’t just feed it and then otherwise forget it exists (no offense to our committed fish owners out there). By adding a dog to your family, you are taking on the responsibility of another life, so make sure you have time to dedicate to caring for your pup. Dogs - especially puppies - require lots of love and attention. If you travel frequently,often find yourself working extended hours, or will be leaving your pup alone all day, you may want to reconsider your timing on getting a new dog.
4. Will exercise with your dog fit into your daily schedule? Dogs need to be exercised. Whether a new puppy or a 9-year-old adoptee, your dog needs exercise. While it is true that a puppy needs more exercise than an older dog, you need to make sure you have the time to commit to exercising your dog on a daily basis, whether that be going for a morning and evening walk, throwing a ball around the yard, running, etc.
5. Do you have the patience to train a puppy? Training a puppy isn’t easy. Puppies are naturally curious. They will chew stuff and destroy stuff, and require training to become well behaved. . Make sure you puppy-proof your house. The same goes for older dogs – even if the dog was previously trained at another home, your dog will probably need to be re-trained – especially after leaving a shelter. Try not to get mad if he has an accident or chews something – he may be nervous and will need time to adjust, just as a puppy would. Be patient, gentle, and caring.
Now for the less obvious stuff:
6. Do you have everything for the arrival of your new dog? Buy the things you’ll need in advance. It is better to be overly prepared than completely unprepared when it comes to bringing a new dog home. You will need a properly fitted dog collar, ID and rabies tags, a dog leash, food and water bowls, a dog bed, and dog toys to make your new friend feel at home. Buying these necessities ahead of time will make your dog feel comfortable the second you bring him home, and help with the transition to the new environment.
7. Do you have a vet selected? You’ll certainly need a good vet and should plan to schedule a visit within the first week of bringing him home. That way, you already have him established in a practice in case anything unexpected happens, and the vet can make sure your pup is up-to-date on any needed vaccinations. Do your research before you bring your dog home to make sure you find the best care in your area.
8. Are you aware of the importance of getting your dog spayed or neutered? Speaking of the vet, always get your new dog spayed/neutered. If you adopt a dog from a shelter, the shelter may have already taken this step for you, but always check with the shelter to be sure. However, if you have a new puppy, you will have to make sure you take him or her to get neutered or spayed. This is so important because, not only do you likely not want tons of puppies running around, but it also helps your dog live a healthier, longer life by preventing uterine infections and certain types of cancers. The recommended period for spaying or neutering your dog is between six to nine months. However, it can be done as early as eight weeks, if your pup is healthy, and can also be done later in life, though there is a higher risk of complications.
9. Are you familiar with common pet hazards? Do some research on basic pet hazards. Do not let your dog play with a bottle of cleaning solution or medicine. These things are blatantly poisonous. There are also a lot of little things you may expect that can seriously harm your pup. Chocolate, coffee, and caffeine can cause vomiting and diarrhea in your dog, as well as an abnormal heartbeat, seizures, and death. Onions and garlic are also hazardous to dogs - they can cause gastrointestinal problems and lead to red blood cell damage. For a complete list of foods to avoid feeding your pet, visit
the ASPCA’s animal poison control page.
10. Do you know how your dog should interact with other dogs? It’s okay to let your dog be social. Many dog owners seem to think that other dog owners don’t want their dogs to interact for fear of a fight occurring. But again, dogs are naturally curious creatures, and chances are, they just want to say hi to another dog friend. When walking your dog or visiting a dog park, if you see other dogs, feel free to let your dog approach other dogs instead of holding him back (just check with the other dog’s owner to make sure it’s okay).
Always remember your dog is now a member of your family - make sure you treat him that way!