I have only had a couple of dogs in my life that were my own, but I had them for a lifetime! I grew up with a chihuahua named Little Sister. There were a few other dogs growing up but the first dog that was mine as an adult was my Scottish terrier named Doc. Later, I took in my sister’s lab mix when she was injured and could no longer care for him. They both lived with me until the end of their lives. Since then, it has only been cats in my life along with assorted small pets. Since I moved to Amador County and have a huge yard, I’ve thought about adopting a dog. Dogs are not all play, though — they require effort to keep them happy and healthy. This guest post by Monika of Animallama gives you lots of things to consider before making such a big decision.
12 Crucial Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting a Dog
So, you’re thinking of adopting a new doggy friend. And as a responsible person that you are, you want to make sure that it is the right decision for you. That’s great because many people get a dog without thinking it through and then regret it afterwards and realize it is not something they want! And then the dog suffers. But this scenario will not happen with you because you want to make sure that you are ready for this big step!
Take a look at the following 12 questions that you should ask yourself before adopting and really think about your answers. These questions will help you realize if bringing a new dog into your life is a good decision in this period of your life. Let’s start!
#1 Do you have enough time to devote to a new furry family member?
Dogs require a lot of your time on a daily basis. Taking your dog for a walk every day and playing with him is something every responsible dog parent should do. So, are you able to take your dog for a walk every day? Or do you have a family member that will walk your dog?
If you have a yard, letting your dog outside is not enough – you should take him for a walk anyway. Being in the same yard every day is not stimulating enough for a dog and taking him for a walk every day will prevent boredom and potential behavioral issues.
#2 Can you afford all the expenses that go with adopting a dog?
Having a dog is not cheap. Especially, if health issues come up and you have to pay for the vet bills.
Some of the expenses that you’ll have when you adopt a dog are:
- Dog food
- Adoption fee
- Spay or neuter
- Supplies such as a collar, a leash, toys, bed, food bowl etc.
- Potential veterinary bills
- Grooming services and grooming supplies
When you sum it up, it can cost up to $1000 the first year of having a dog and approximately $695 for the following years, according to Money Under 30.
So, can you afford it?
#3 What kind of dog fits your lifestyle? What kind of characteristics are you looking for in a dog?
- Are you an active person or more of a couch potato?
- Do you have a full-time job, working from home or are you a stay at home parent?
- Do you live alone or with your family / roommates?
- How big is your house / apartment?
- Do you have a yard?
Answering these questions will give you a clear insight into what kind of dog fits your lifestyle and what kind of characteristics in a dog would best fit your personality.
If you are an active person that loves to be outdoors, going for walks and hikes, an energetic dog breed might be the perfect choice for you. If you prefer spending your time indoors, maybe a senior dog that doesn’t have that much extra energy would be a nice fit.
If you work full-time and there is nobody home for 8+ hours a day, then a puppy might not be the best choice as they have to go to pee every 2-3 hours. If you are home most of the time, then puppy would be great!
Depending on the size of your house / apartment, you should consider how big of a dog you would like to have. A huge dog breed is not the best option for small apartments, so you might want to think about smaller breeds if you live in a smaller place. If you have a house with a big fenced yard, then a big dog would fit in great!
#4 Do your living conditions allow having a dog?
Where do you live now? Is it your own place or a rented apartment? If you are renting, then you’ll need to get a permission from a landlord to keep a dog in the apartment. Also, where will you live in a couple of years? Your new pup will be with you for years to come, so during that time you will always have to live in a pet-friendly place.
If you might move in the future, how easy it is to find a pet-friendly housing in your area? In my town (in Europe), finding a good apartment that accepts pets is almost like winning a lottery. Unfortunately, most people don’t accept pets in the apartments they rent. Fortunately, I have a place of my own so I don’t have a problem with keeping pets. But if you don’t have your own place, you should think about how easy or hard it will be to find an affordable apartment that allows pets.
#5 Who is going to be the “responsible one” when it comes to daily duties around the dog?
If you’re adopting a dog for your kids, there’s always a possibility that you’re the one that will end up doing all the work, even though it might not be the initial agreement.
Will you split the chores such as daily walks, baths, feeding? Who exactly will be in charge of what? This should be set beforehand so there aren’t any situations such as “I can’t walk the dog today, I have a piano lesson!” or “But I thought you already fed the dog before you went to work!”
#6 Have you set the rules for the house?
When you’re bringing a new dog to your house, be it a puppy or an adult dog, he will have no idea what is allowed or what isn’t. A puppy will have to learn everything from scratch while an adult dog might have been previously adopted with a family that had completely different house rules. So, you’ll have to be patient and teach your new canine what he is allowed and what is out of the question.
The rules you set for your dog should be followed by all family members so the dog doesn’t get confused with what is allowed and what isn’t.
#7 Do you have a possibility of leaving the dog to someone to take care of him if you go away for a few days?
If you go on a holiday trip for a few days and you can’t take your dog, or you have to go on a business trip, or visit a family member in a different city, will you be able to leave your dog somewhere safe? Do you have a friend or a family member that can take the dog in for a few days? Or can you afford a pet sitter or a dog hotel?
This is something many people don’t consider before adopting a dog and when the time comes to go on a vacation, so many dogs are being abandoned and left on the streets to fend for themselves.
#8 Will you be able to train your dog?
Training takes time and dedication, and sometimes even strong nerves. So, can you dedicate the time to train your dog with patience? Will you be able to handle and get past the “naughties” your dog might do occasionally? Dogs are like small children, they are curious, playful and energetic and the day will come when your new furry family member will break your favorite vase, chew your slippers or knock something over. When it happens, you’ll need to get past it and get on with the training.
#9 Is a dog really the best pet for you?
If you can’t make enough time in a day to walk and play with your dog, your dog will be miserable and miss his human. If this is the case, maybe a cat would be a better fit for you. Think it through again and keep in mind that if you adopt a dog, you’re looking at daily walks for the next 10, 13 or maybe even 15 years (Imagine how much healthier you will be!). If that is something you really want, then great – you will be a great dog parent!
#10 If you have another pet, are they accepting of other dogs? Will they get along?
Bringing a new dog home, when you already have a pet, can be the best decision you ever made or can be the start of a war between your two favorite furry family members. When a new dog comes to your home, your “old” pet can get territorial and try to protect your home from a new threat a.k.a. new dog. Will your current pet accept a new dog? Can you take the time to introduce them properly?
#11 Will you be there for them for better, for worse, in sickness and in health?
As you probably know, dogs get really attached to their owners. Abandoning a dog is very traumatic for them. Before you make the commitment of adopting a dog, you have to be sure that you are ready to be there for them during the tough days as well as during the good days, to make that commitment and to take all the responsibilities that go along with having a dog.
#12 Can you handle the hair?
Most dogs shed like crazy so hair will be all over the place. You better mentally prepare for it before you bring your new pet home, and get yourself a premium vacuum, if you don’t already have one. But when you get used to having excess dog hair in the apartment, it stops being such a big deal. If you think dog hair will bother you, you can choose a dog breed that doesn’t shed that much such as poodle, Yorkshire terrier or Maltese.
After you answered these questions, and talked it over with your family or whoever you live with, you can let it all sink in for a day or two before making a final decision. Or maybe you are now even more certain than before that adopting a dog is something you can and want to do! Either way, I hope these questions will help you or already helped you make the best decision for you.
Let me know your decision in the comments!
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My name is Monika. I currently have 2 cats, I walk my grandparent’s dog (my cats don’t tolerate dogs so can’t have one of my own at the moment unfortunately) and I walk shelter dogs in my free time. I am the owner of a pet blog called Animallama where I write about pet care and share my tips for making our furry family members happy at all times.