When deciding to adopt a dog it’s important to take an inventory of your resources; your time, dedication, money, and housing especially. Your ability to provide for a dog will dictate what type of dog you should adopt. Overreaching or stretching your resources too thin will make for an unhappy match.
Forget about having time to make coffee on Monday morning, you will now need to fit in (at least) an extra half hour to your routine to feed and walk your new adopted pal. If your new pup isn’t quite potty trained yet, you’ll need even more time to ensure that he or she understands what the morning walk is all about. In fact, if you’re potty training a puppy, keep in mind that you’ll need to let him or her out at least every 3-4 hours, since puppies can’t physically hold it much longer than that.
General training time is also something to consider when adopting a dog. If you’re adopting an older dog, training is a great way to bond with your new buddy and give him a refresher course on good dog etiquette. If you’re adopting a puppy or a dog that’s never been trained before, you should definitely allow time for training sessions, since you’ll be starting from square one.
Training a dog requires a lot of time, consistency, and patience – and we’re not talking about the behavior cases (dogs that require behavior modification training to undo bad habits). We’re talking about training an otherwise good dog. Having a well behaved dog is not something that happens overnight.
When assessing your time resources it’s important to be realistic. If you don’t have time to get to training courses, or if you frequently travel or work late, it may not be the best time to adopt a dog. Additionally, if you’re already stretched thin with soccer practices, recitals, and birthday parties, throwing a dog in the mix is probably not the best idea.
Do you have a rain coat, snow boots, windbreaker, umbrella, etc.? Unless you opt for an indoor potty, your new dog is going to need to be let out regardless of weather conditions. If you have the luxury of a backyard and can simply let your dog out, that will definitely make things easier. However, you will still need to provide your dog with daily exercise. And although they say dogs are intuitive with regards to our emotions, he will still need to go out even when you’re clinging to the toilet with the flu or dying on the couch with a migraine. If you have a roommate, spouse, or family member to help you take care of the dog it won’t be a big problem, but if you’re alone it’s something to strongly consider.
Just like time is an intrinsic part of training a dog, so is the passion behind the training. You need to be consistent and you need to be willing to work with your adopted dog if he or she starts developing anxiety or other behavioral issues. This is something that commonly happens with puppies, since they go through a few developmental stages before their personality becomes solid.
Are you financially stable? You will need to provide food, medical care, toys, and furnishings for another living being. Regular veterinary care as well as routine heartworm and flea and tick preventives can be costly, but not nearly as bad as if you let issues get to the point where they become an emergency. Emergency medical care is usually at least double what you’d pay for a normal vet visit!
If you adopt a dog with special grooming needs, that will also need to be factored into your budget. And then there’s all the fun stuff, like treats, chew toys, bedding, and new collars. Don’t forget to include the starting costs of adopting a dog, which includes adoption fees, the preliminary vet appointment, a crate, a leash, a collar, ID tags, food and water bowls, a bed, shampoo, toys, nail clippers, and some basic first-aid materials.
Are you renting or do you own? This is probably one of the first questions you’ll be asked when applying to adopt a dog. If you’re renting, make sure to discuss getting a dog with your landlord. Some adoption agencies ask that you have written consent or may even call your landlord to ensure you’re approved to have a dog on the premises.
Additionally, if you are renting, is there a chance that you could move in the near future? If so, how hard will it be to find new housing that will allow you to bring your adopted pup? This is something you may want to investigate before actually having to do it. Don’t wait until your lease is up to find out if it’s difficult to find pet friendly accommodations.
If you own your home, make sure the type of dog you want is covered by your home owners insurance. Some dogs —German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Pit Bulls, for example — are often not covered.
Also consider the other people you’re living with. Is everyone on board with adopting a dog? This is really important. Everyone will be affected by your new companion, along with everything else in the house. Your furnishings will be thoroughly investigated by the new dog. They will be rolled on, scooted across, and quite possibly peed on, but at the very least, shed on.
Do any of the members of your household have allergies? Are there children’s toys lying around? How about breakables? Avoid the “your dog did ____.” argument and make sure everyone’s on the same page with regards to the responsibilities that follow adopting a dog.