Key Considerations Before Getting A Dog
Each year more than a million dogs are relinquished to shelters because their owners weren’t prepared for the responsibility of caring for them. Dogs are taken to shelters for a myriad of reasons – from minor issues like housetraining to major ones like aggression and social anxiety. Typically, these issues can be avoided through owner education and proper training. So, if you’re thinking about getting a dog, consider these key factors first.
1. Am I Ready For The Long-Term Commitment?
The average life expectancy of a dog is 11 years based on this study. During that time, a living being will be under your care and protection, making it not only a long commitment, but a serious one! Not being ready to commit to pet ownership is one of the leading causes of rehoming.
2. Can I Afford To Own A Dog?
On average, dog owners pay anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000 per year for a healthy pup, not to mention the upfront cost of buying a dog which can range from $2,000 – $5,000 or adopting a dog at $100 – $500. Additional costs that new dog owners frequently don’t consider before purchasing a dog include licensing, fencing, crates, training and obedience classes, grooming, treats, toys, medications and microchips.
3. Do I Have Time To Care For A Dog?
Before adding a dog to your family, be sure your schedule can accommodate for one. The leading cause of behavior issues in dogs is isolation and boredom, which is typically the result of a busy owner. Make sure you take into account multiple daily walks, obedience training, weekly grooming, and lots of cuddles!
4. Is My Home Pet-Friendly?
Have you checked your lease? Research shows that 82 percent of residents have had trouble finding pet-friendly housing. Be sure that you are allowed to have a dog in your home, and that your house or apartment is equipped to handle a dog. Remember that depending on the dog, certain things like space, neighbors and outdoor areas should be taken into consideration.
5. Is My City Pet-Friendly?
If you are active and always on-the-go, make sure you live somewhere that you can bring your dog with you. It’s unfair to leave your new furry friend at home alone all the time, so research pet-friendly restaurants, parks, and other social spots before making the commitment.
6. Do I Have The Patience To Train A Puppy?
Training a puppy is no easy task. It takes time, patience and persistence. If you are concerned about dog training, consider getting an older dog that likely already has been trained to some degree and is more mature than a new puppy.
7. Do I Want To Adopt Or Shop?
Do you want a certain breed of dog? Are you looking for a hypoallergenic puppy? Do you want to know about the dog’s past? All these questions factor into whether you should buy a dog from a reputable breeder or adopt from a responsible rescue. It’s important to remember that neither choice is better than the other, and what is most important is to find a dog that fits your lifestyle.
8. Is My Breeder, Dog Store Or Rescue Responsible And Reputable?
To ensure that the dog you are bringing home is healthy and well cared for, do your homework ahead of time to determine the breeder, dog store or rescue is reputable. It’s easy to get distracted by the cuteness of the dog or feel like you are “saving” him from an unsafe situation but buying or adopting a dog from an irresponsible source puts you at risk for an unhealthy dog and only supports their negligent business.
9. Have I Found The Right Dog For Me?
At the end of the day you need to be sure that the dog you are bringing home is the perfect dog for you. Even after doing your research, you might fall in love with a pup you weren’t expecting. The good thing is, even if it isn’t the breed you were planning for, you’ve done your research and now have a strong understanding on how to care for your new dog.
Learn the Cost of Owning a Dog
Owning a pet comes with a lot of financial responsibility. On average, dog owners pay anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000 per year for a healthy pup. This range can increase significantly for elderly dogs and those with health issues, making it essential to learn if your dog is healthy before bringing him home.
On top of the annual cost of taking care of your dog, it can also be expensive to get one in the first place. Many popular breeds can range from $2,000 to $5,000 as puppies, while adoption fees tend to be between $100 and $500.
Costs that new dog owners frequently don’t consider before purchasing a dog include licensing, fencing, crates, training and obedience classes, grooming, treats, toys, medications and microchips. Many of these expenses are paid for in the first year of owning a dog, but others like flea and tick medications are recurring costs throughout the dog’s life.
According to the American Pet Products Association, some of the necessary annual expenses for dog owners include:
Visit the American Kennel Club’s site to learn more about the cost of owning a dog
Know the Exercise Requirements for Dogs
Every dog is different, as are his needs for exercise. The breed, age and sex of your dog will all influence the amount of physical activity needed to keep him happy and healthy.
Puppies have more energy than adult dogs, although that doesn’t necessarily mean they require more exercise. In fact, it is possible to over-exercise a growing puppy and damage his joints. It’s suggested to exercise puppies in several short periods of time throughout the day, rather than one long walk or jog.
It’s best to ask your veterinarian how much exercise your puppy should receive daily, but according to the Kennel Club, a general rule to follow is five minutes of exercise per month of age, twice a day, until the puppy is full grown. (2 months old = 10 minutes of exercise, twice a day)
Before getting a dog, learn the activity and energy levels of his breed. High-energy dogs will require more exercise than low-energy dogs. Generally, all adult dogs should receive between 30 minutes and two hours of physical activity and mental stimulation daily.
Ensuring your dog is physically active not only keeps him healthy, but will also improve behavior, social skills and your bond with your pup.
If you aren't a walker, try these exercise options for your dog
For more information on exercising your dog, check out these resources
Understand How Much Space Dogs Need
Before bringing a dog home, be sure that your home is the right size for your new addition. Many believe that a dog’s size correlates to the size of the home needed to keep him happy, but that’s not always true! Other factors, such as energy level and exercise requirements should play a larger role in determining the appropriately sized home needed to keep your dog happy.
Many large breeds of dogs, such as Great Danes and Mastiffs, are very low energy dogs and can live happily in a small high-rise apartment. Because they don’t require a yard to run in and a large home to prevent them from feeling crammed, low energy dogs are better suited for apartment-style living.
Just as all big dogs don’t need a big home, not all small dogs are best suited for small living areas. For example, if you are considering getting a dog that likes to run, jump and play all day long, giving him more space than a 600 square-foot. apartment is wise. Also, if the dog you are considering is a barker, you must take into consideration the proximity of your neighbors and if there will be constant noises and distractions causing him to bark frequently.
A few other things to take into consideration when thinking about space requirements for your potential dog
Does your dog take the stairs? Some larger breeds of dogs will have difficulties with their joints walking up and down stairs daily. If you’re a few floors up without an elevator, think twice about getting a large dog.
Is your dog a herder or hunter? Dogs who like to run freely are better suited for suburban and rural homes rather than urban living. Walking on a leash through the park isn’t the same as running freely in a grassy yard for dogs that have been bred to herd.
Does your dog mind crowds? Some dogs are better suited to be around large amounts of people, but if your dog has high anxiety levels, or doesn’t like being approached by strangers, an apartment downtown may not be best.
What is your dog’s noise level? Some dogs bark, others howl, but regardless of the noise they are making, if they can’t keep it down when left alone, your dog might be better suited for a life without close-by neighbors.
For more information on the space dogs need, visit
What to Expect During Each Stage of Puppyhood
Be prepared for every stage of puppyhood by learning what to expect, and not to expect, during the first year of your dog’s life.
At this stage, puppies should still be under the care of their breeder. It’s crucial for puppy development that they stay with their mothers until at least eight weeks old.
Puppies will start to show signs of chewing, and their sense of smell will really start to be present. They will still have their puppy coats.
You can finally bring your puppy home! At this point in puppyhood your dog should be microchipped and starting vet care, such as getting his first vaccinations.
Although they will still sleep often, your puppy will be more curious and start to explore more. During the end of this phase (closer to 12 weeks), consider entering your puppy into obedience classes if his vaccinations are complete.
Your puppy will experience growth spurts throughout this period and should also start to recognize his name when called.
At 16 weeks your pup will weigh approximately half of his full adult weight. He will start to lose his milking teeth, so be prepared for the teething phase!
Your puppy will have endless amounts of energy at this age and will likely want to play all the time. His adult teeth will be coming in, so he may start to get into some mischief like chewing on furniture or other household items. Just like a baby, your puppy goes through a teething phase and will look for relief wherever he can get it, so keep your valuables out of sight.
At this point your puppy should definitely be enrolled in obedience classes and be done with his initial vaccinations. He should be responding to basic commands and starting to understand rewards for good behavior.
Your puppy is getting big! He is also getting adventurous and starting to take more risks. Be sure to continue using your basic commands (sit, stay, come, etc.), as your puppy should fully understand them at this age.
Some smaller breeds of dogs will already hit puberty at six months. His adult canine teeth should appear, and his adult coat should be filling in.
At this stage, your puppy will typically be at his expected height and weight. Their bones will have fully developed, and they will be ready for more consistent and rigorous exercise.
At this point, your vet should start talking with you about booster vaccinations. Larger breeds will be hitting puberty now, and all dogs will start to get a bit rebellious. Even if your pup tries your patience, stick to his training and basic commands.
Your puppy is no longer a puppy but an adult dog. Much of your dog’s socialization and training will have happened by now, and your dog’s personality is likely established. Just like humans, some dogs mature at a slower rate, so no need for concern if your pup is still acting like an adolescent.