6 Things to Know Before Adopting a Dog

It seems like a great idea to adopt a dog. After all, your family may want or even need a canine companion, and it’s a win/win for you to give them a loving home, right? It can be. But the tragedy is that thousands of dogs are adopted every year only to be returned to the shelter or rescue they came from by a broken-hearted family who can’t handle the new addition to their home. 

The problem is that dogs become a part of your family, and in order to successfully adopt a dog, you need to look at the breed, your family and your home, and be sure that Your new dog will fit with your lifestyle and even personality. 

Here are some things you need to know before adopting a dog. 

Do Your Breed Research

Dog’s have been bred for different reasons, and that means that genetically, every breed will have their own personality and quirks. This also means they will have different energy levels, require different care, and they also may be easier or more difficult to train. 

Think of all the dogs you’ve known or owned. Working dogs tend to need a job and something to do, or they can be very mischievous. Others, like German Shepherds and Dobermans, can be very family loyal and make great watchdogs and even service animals. Smaller dogs can often be more vicious and hard to train than larger breeds. Breeds like the Husky or various herding dogs need lots of room to run. 

The AKC even offers tests that can help you determine the breed of dog that best suits you and your situation, and it can be found here. Just answering some simple questions can help you select a dog that works for you. 

Even if you are getting a dog that is a mixed breed, the way they are mixed can impact how they behave. Know before you even start looking, what breeds are a definite “no” for you, and what your ideal breed might be. 

The Puppy Debate

There are countless dogs that are up for adoption from puppies to adult dogs, and this is often a debate when choosing to adopt. Here are some common pros and cons: 

  • Puppy Pro: You get to train this dog your way from the start, and they come with no pre-formed bad habits and other issues adult dogs often have. 
  • Puppy Con: You have to train a puppy, and this starts with potty training, basic obedience, and more, things an adult dog might already know. 
  • Adult Pro: You get to skip the puppy stage, everything from potty training to chewing up your favorite running training shoes.
  • Adult Cons: Adult dogs often come with issues if they’ve been abused, and you might not see some of these until you have your dog at home. There are therapies to help them, but these can involve costly training and time. 

When you take a dog, whether adult or puppy, home from a shelter, you are making a commitment to that pet for several years to come. You have to decide what you and your family can handle when it comes to training or even dealing with issues that rescue animals often present. 

Look Around Your Home

Your home will now become the home for a dog, and you need to look around and make sure it is ready and that you have the space you need for the breed you have decided on. Here are some things to look for: 

  • A Place for a Kennel and Dog Toys: Ideally, your dog should have a kennel, a few beds around the house, and some places to keep and play with toys. You need to have room for the dog to make its home without it taking over yours. 
  • A Well-Fenced Yard: This is a must for the protection of your dog, those in your neighborhood and you. Your dog may be at risk if they run away, may become a nuisance if they harass neighbors and others, and anyone they injure or bite, no matter how accidental, can leave you liable. This also gives your dog a place to call home where they can run and play safely.
  • Dog-proofing: Much like preparing your home for a toddler, you will need to make sure all cords are protected or hidden, all outlets are covered, your trash has a lid or is behind a cupboard with a childproof lock, and that food is secured where your new dog can’t get to it on their own. 

There are many aspects to preparing your home for a new dog, and some you may not recognize until the dog is actually there. 

Get the Stuff you Need

If you don’t have them already, you will need things like a leash, harnesses, dog beds, food dishes, dog toys, and more. The more of these things you have ahead of time the better. Get a variety of toys and treats, as it may take you time to learn what your dog likes best. Every one of them is different, and you can always purchase more of their favorites once you get to know each other. 

Don’t forget about food. Each dog likes different things, but there are also foods designed for various ages and breeds that ensure they get the nutrition they need. Consult your vet, do your research, and feed your pet the best quality food you can afford. 

Plan for Training

Whether you train your dog yourself, take them to lessons, or pay someone to do it for you, you need to plan for dog training in both time and money. A well-behaved dog will be much easier for you to handle in the long run, and while there are different training methods, they are all designed to make dog ownership a pleasant experience. 

Even if you are adopting an adult dog, remember they may come with legacy issues you will need to be prepared for. Don’t ever think you don’t need training classes or help with your dog just because they are older. Adopting a dog means you are committing to a lifetime of dog training and interaction. 

Budget Accordingly

Last, but certainly not least, check your budget. Adding a dog to your family will cost you in food, vet bills, and even pet insurance should you choose to carry it. Simple items like grooming can be costly and really break your budget if you don’t plan for them. 

Adopting a dog is a commitment of both time and finances, and you want to be as prepared as possible for anything that might come up. Add food and other items to your budget, and make sure you can afford your new dog before you bring one home. 

Adopting a dog is a great thing to do, but it is also involved. You’ll need to select your breed carefully, prepare yourself and your home, budget accordingly, and even plan for training. The cost and effort will all be worth it when you find your best friend. Adoption will not only change the life of the dog you adopt, but it will change yours too.