So you’ve finally had enough. It seems like everyone you know has an adorable puppy or an adventure-loving dog to call their own. Scenes of tug-of-war and park playtime dominate your daydreams. You’re just dying for a sweet, fluffy companion and it’s totally time to make it happen.
Before you rush into anything, though, consider the following factors and make sure you’re ready for a big (adorable) commitment.
It’s a good idea to evaluate your schedule and see how a dog fits into it. You might need to adjust accordingly or make some sacrifices if you want to bring home a furry friend for good. It can be as simple as replacing your midday gym session with a trip home to let your dog out for some fresh air (and a potty break). If you travel often and can’t take your new pal, make sure you know of a good boarding kennel or have considered hiring a pet-sitter. The costs can add up, but having a plan and being prepared is a great first step.
Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments. Maybe you’ve got your heart set on that Instagrammable Labradoodle or you’ve always wanted a tiny Chihuahua that can fit in your tote bag. Take into consideration not only what you’re looking for in a dog, but how those traits might affect you—from personality to energy levels to how often they need to see a groomer. High-energy dogs like working breeds might not be best for apartment-dwellers, just like smaller breeds would be challenging for someone looking for a jogging partner. Every dog has its pros and cons, but a little research into different breeds can go a long way in finding a great dog/owner fit.
They may not seem like it (remember how darn CUTE they are?) but dogs are major financial decisions. Adoption fees, medical expenses, pet deposits, food, boarding, grooming, training, leashes (that they’ll chew through…erm, hypothetically), and even toys are significant figures to add to a budget. Not to mention the shoes/screen doors/rugs you’ll have to replace when they’re in the puppy stage. Again, hypothetically.
This isn’t to say that dogs aren’t money well spent—they totally are! Just be sure you’ve looked at the numbers first to make sure you’re up for the expense.
Your house/apartment/rental restrictions
If you’re a renter or have housing restrictions of any kind, remember to check with the powers that be to ensure you’re following the property rules. Some landlords have weight limits or prohibit certain breeds. If a dog is in your future, be sure to pay any pet deposits and provide health/vaccine records upfront. This can save you from lots of unnecessary headaches down the road.
Adopt vs. Shop
My husband and I thought we were set on getting a Golden Retriever. I loved their charming, family-friendly temperament and he loved, well, the retriever part. For weeks, we tried finding one through our local rescues, but few Goldens were turning up.
One day, a rescue organization we follow on Facebook posted a photo of an adorable dog they said had the sweetest temperment—and he wasn’t a Golden Retriever. He was a Great Pyrenees mix, and from the moment we laid eyes on him, my husband and I were completely smitten. We broadened our horizons a bit, and in the end, we’re so glad we were open to a different breed. Ralph (our new little guy) is sweet as pie and a perfect fit for our tiny family.
If you don’t have your heart set on a certain type of dog, adoption is a great option. Many rescues, like the one we worked with, will even let you foster for a short time to make sure you and your prospective fur-baby are meant to be. Check out Petfinder.com to locate adoptable (and adorable) pets near you!
If you are in the market for a particular breed, do your research first to find a reputable, responsible breeder and please, PLEASE don’t shop at your local pet store. You’ll likely overpay for a dog that probably came from a puppy mill and hasn’t been socialized properly or been screened for major health issues. Bad news all around.
My best advice—no matter what dog you’re looking for—is to weigh your priorities, keep an open mind, and be patient. Your new best friend will come along before you know it.
This is a big one. A new dog in the house requires attention and TIME. Kennel-training and especially potty-training are big hurdles to be prepared for. A well-behaved dog typically doesn’t just happen, so setting aside time for bonding and establishing boundaries is key. Scheduling regular walks is a great idea, too. With thorough training sessions and time dedicated to your new pal, you’ll have a loyal companion that obeys and totally listens when you call for him. Probably.
How much fun you’re about to have
Bringing a dog into your life is a seriously rewarding and often amusing experience. You’ll have a cuddle partner, a fluffy alarm clock and a new best friend you just can’t stop talking about. Prepare yourself (and your Instagram) for a whole lot of fun.