Adding a pet to your home can be a great way to inject a little personality and a ton of love into your living space. There’s nothing quite like being greeted at the door by a mass of fur and slobber just waiting to shower you with affection. Maybe that’s why there are 78 million dogs owned as pets in the United States alone. If you’re considering bringing a dog home to be your furever friend, that’s great! Yet, before you fall in love with a pooch, it’s important to ask yourself these five questions. Doing so will help you make sure you’re entering into a relationship that’s healthy for both you and Fido as well!
1. Can you make the commitment?
Many people fall in love with the idea of owning a dog, but aren’t ready to commit to the day-in, day-out responsibility of taking care of one. Having any pet requires an investment of time and money and a dog is no exception. Before you bring one home, make sure you can take the time and afford the cost it requires to give it daily exercise, feed it regularly, groom it yourself or take it to the groomer, potty train if necessary, and more. Though the specific requirements you’ll need to undertake will vary by breed, you’ll still need to be present and involved on a daily basis.
To this end, if you work a very demanding job and are gone most of the day, a highly social breed such as a Bichon Frise might feel neglected sitting at home alone. The same goes for a new puppy that needs to be trained and taught how to potty outside, which can take months of work. If your outside commitments keep you away, consider bringing home a low-demand pet such as a fish before you tackle the duties that surround having a dog as a pet.
2. Does the dog fit your lifestyle?
Maybe you’ve been interested in chiuauas since you were little and would love to own one as a pet. You know they’re high-energy, but they’re small enough to go with you anywhere and work well in any size home. So, you think one would be a great addition to your new apartment. Yet, before you do so, think twice about your living situation. Do you have lots of little children underfoot that could provoke the tiny pet? As mentioned above, are you working until late in the evening with little to no time left to socialize with the dog? If your lifestyle doesn’t fit the breed, no matter how adorable the pup is, it won’t be an ideal fit.
Before you bring one home, research the breeds you’re most interested in. Learn as much as you can about them and get a solid feel for their personalities. Then, assess how those personalities will fit with your current availability and also your own personality.
3. Which veterinarian will you use?
Most people wait until after they’re brought their pup home to start interviewing local veterinarians. However, it’s often in your best interest to check them out before you make your decision. Connecting with a professional at the onset can give you the opportunity to ask them their opinion on specific breeds and learn more about their care, their health traits, how they will fit into your lifestyle and more.
Ask your trusted friends, family members and co-workers who they currently take their pets to, and start scheduling interviews. You want to partner with a veterinarian who makes you feel comfortable, who fields all of your questions and whose advice is sound. Remember, this is a partnership that will likely span the life of your pet, so choose wisely and take your time making the decision. You can also hop online and find plenty of dog-related tips and advice to help you self-educate in the meantime.
4. Is your home pet-friendly?
Similar to the steps you would take to child-proof your home before bringing home a new baby, you should also make sure there are no hazards present in your house before you bring home a dog as a pet. There are many steps you might not have even considered taking in this pursuit. For instance, you might know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, so you make it a point to move your cake to the highest shelf in the refrigerator.
Yet, did you also know that common prescription medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure, can also be poisonous for your pet? Other common household items, including fire logs, bleach, antifreeze, and other cleaners are also no-nos. These considerations aren’t just limited to the inside of your house, either. Flowering shrubs such as azaleas or daffodil and tulip flowers can also be toxic if ingested.
While you don’t have to completely eliminate these items from your home or lawn, you should know where they are and how to keep them completely out of reach of your dog. Taking a walkthrough of your home can help you make sure it’s as pet-friendly as possible.
5. Are you ready for the adjustment time?
Especially if you’re bringing home a new puppy, it’s important to understand that there will be an adjustment period as your new pooch becomes used to his or her new environment. The same holds true for older or adopted pets, as they’re not used to living in your home either. Still, the puppy phase can be a specifically trying one, and it’s helpful to know what you’re getting into before you commit.
For instance, did you know that newborn puppies actually cry, similar to the way a newborn baby does? Yet, though you might bring a baby into your bed to offer a soothing change of space, you’ll need to set up a different routine for your new puppy. Instead of changing the scenery, simply set up a comfortable space in your home that you can designate as your puppy’s secure spot. This should be an enclosed area that’s removed from a lot of noise and is comfortable as possible, with a designated doggy bed for your new companion.
You’ll also need to help your new pup navigate the teeth-cutting phase, the potty training phase, and any training required to accommodate bringing it home to a house that already has pets present. Those first few months together can be trying, but they can be especially rewarding as well, given you know how to navigate the ins and outs of the newborn process.
Bringing Home Your New Best Friend
If you’re able to adequately assess your answers to the above five questions and you still feel comfortable bringing a dog home, congratulations! You’re on your way toward one of the most incredible, loving relationships of your life. A dog can make an excellent companion for someone who’s physically, mentally and emotionally ready to handle the addition.
Take your time, do your homework, and ask for professional advice if you need it. This isn’t a decision to be made lightly, so look before you make the leap. Then when you’re ready, bring your best friend home and watch your life change forever.