A DogGeek.com exclusive by Teresa Barker
A checklist of consideration when thinking about adopting a dog.
Many people think that when they buy or rent a house with a big yard, “Well, now we need a dog!” but there are so many more important considerations than your yard size when adopting a dog. Here is a list of considerations when you feel the urge to add a dog to your family.
- Can you commit?
Dogs can live 15 years, and smaller breeds even longer. Where do you see yourself in the next 15 years? Regardless of whether or not you get married, have kids, retire and start traveling, move, lose your job, or get a divorce, are you willing to care for a dog through the process?
- Is this the right time?
There are many life situations that compel us to want a companion by our side, but these intense emotional times can be when we make irrational decisions that we might regret. In times of grief (loss of a pet or relative), times of transition (a new job or house), or when planning for transition (planning a wedding or trying to get pregnant) it’s better not to add the responsibility of caring for a dog.
- Do you have the time?
Do you have a stable routine that allows for daily walking, training, grooming and bonding? Dogs are social beings and having one in your family is like having another person in your house! You’ve got to be prepared to accommodate your new canine family member in all ways, incorporating them in your daily routine and putting their needs at the top of the list.
- Are you willing to work through the issues?
They say that dogs are “Man’s Best Friend” for a reason. It’s about relationships. Just like scouring Match.com, when looking for the perfect dog to add to the family, you might be slightly fooled by the initial profile. Sometimes it can take time before baggage shows up. Your new dog might have an aggression trigger that you could have never predicted, or develop a separation anxiety issue once bonded to you. Are you willing to take the time to work with a trainer, or do what ever it takes to keep your dog safe and happy?
- Are you financially stable?
In general, puppies, large dogs, and older dogs are more expensive to care for, but unforeseen expenses can happen with any dog. Are you capable of covering a vet bill, or damages to your house (accidents do and will happen!), and to adding the regular maintenance fees to your budget (food, vaccinations, toys, supplies)?
- Have you thought of the type of mate you are looking for?
There are thousands of considerations about breed, size, age and disposition that one should consider before adopting. Do you live a physically active lifestyle (hiking, jogging, camping) that would be conducive to including an energetic dog? Do you have physical ailments that might limit your ability to walk a puppy or live with an active dog? Take a long, hard look at your life and determine what type of dog would fit into it nicely.
Before you find yourself looking into all the sad and loving faces at your local dog shelter, take the time to consider if it really is a good decision to adopt. It can be very difficult to say ‘no’ to a dog in need of a home, but there are other ways to help. If the time isn’t right to bring a dog home with you, spend time volunteering at or for a shelter. From dog walking to office work, you can provide greatly needed and appreciated services in many capacities! If the time is right to add to your family, you get ready to experience highs and lows and joys like you could never imagine. They truly are man’s best friend!