Millions of American families already have a pet, but if yours isn’t one of them yet, you might be finding yourself wondering if you’re ready to adopt a furry friend. A dog is a major commitment for any family, but especially if you’re a first-time pet owner. Here are a few things you’ll want to consider before you visit your local animal shelter and adopt your new best friend.
Do you have time for exercise?
When you first adopt a dog, you might not be fully prepared for how much exercise these clever animals need in order to stay happy and healthy. For most breeds, a quick romp around the yard won’t be enough, and they’ll quickly get bored or worse. Be ready to train your new dog for longer walks. When training a new dog on walks, use the 80/20 rule, 80% of time is spent walking, while 20% of the time is spent sniffing and exploring. Be patient when walking them and give them time to check out their new environment.
Can you handle the veterinarian bills?
Even when you’re adopting a rescue into your family and not worrying extensively about purchase prices or adoption fees, animals can be incredibly expensive. Dogs of all breeds and ages will require medical care, and vet bills can add up quickly. Taking your dog to the vet is just as important as your regular visits to the doctor for routine procedures like vaccines. Vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million unnecessary deaths every year; if you wouldn’t skip vaccinating you or your child, don’t skip on taking care of your pet’s health either.
Are you home frequently enough?
While some types of pets are a bit lower maintenance, dogs are not one of them. Plenty of people travel regularly; in fact, more than 8 million people fly on average every day. Unless you’ve got an established plan for taking care of your dog when you’re away from home, you’re likely not going to be in a place to take good care of a demanding dog. If you travel frequently or are often out of the home for work or school, take some extra time to consider if a pet is right for you.
Is your home dog-safe and dog-proof?
It’s no secret that an unruly dog can end up being a bit too destructive for some families’ tastes. One way to keep a hyperactive breed from wreaking havoc on your home is making sure your living space is prepared for a puppy. This includes picking materials for your home that are easier to maintain and upkeep. Engineered bamboo floors, for example, can be refinished up to two times. You might not think about your floors as something easily damaged, but over time, a dog’s nails can scratch up floors if you’re not careful.
Have you considered all adoption options?
Finally, the most important thing to consider when adding a furry friend to your growing family is where you’ll be getting your dog from. Not all pet stores make use of trustworthy breeders, so whenever possible, go straight to the breeders yourself. Additionally, consider adopting from a rescue or animal shelter; these pets are in need of a home and have plenty of love to give. Don’t rule out older dogs, either. Senior pups can be a great choice for a family looking for a calmer dog who’s already settled into their personality.
Are you and your family ready to adopt your first dog? Use this list of questions to help you make the right decision and find a furry friend that’s right for you.