Dogs make wonderful companions—they provide unconditional love, get us up off the couch and make us laugh with their antics. It’s so hard to resist a cute puppy that many people impulsively buy or adopt one with little thought to its care. As the pup grows, these new owners are surprised at the amount of time, energy and money needed to provide for it. Adopting a puppy or dog requires a long-term commitment and should be seen as a big decision. Consider the points below to make sure you are ready to become a responsible dog owner.
- List the reasons you want to add a puppy or dog to your household. If you’re choosing a dog based solely on looks or because it’s trendy, research the breed to determine if it will fit in with your lifestyle. Taking a dog because it’s cheap or free is never a good idea when you consider the cost of feeding and caring for it. Getting a dog for your children sounds like a nice idea, but can your child realistically care for the pup? On the other hand, if you love dogs and fully understand the commitment involved, you may be ready to adopt one.
- Choose the right time. A new puppy or dog will affect your whole household. The ideal time for pet adoption is when your family life is stable and you have time to help the puppy or dog adjust to his new home. The ASCPA recommends waiting six months after any big life event, such as divorce, a pet’s death, a new job or health issues, before adopting a dog.
- Understand the commitment of owning a dog. You will be responsible for this dog for at least 12 years. Are you ready to feed, exercise, groom, train, socialize and clean up after a dog for that length of time? Dogs can be re-homed but, because they develop strong bonds to their owners, it’s not an easy transition for them.
- Calculate the financial commitment of owning a dog. Dogs are expensive—the yearly care for one dog, which includes food, supplies and basic vet visits, ranges from $800 to $1,000. If your dog needs emergency veterinary care, the bill can cost from $250 to $5,000. Don’t consider bringing a dog into your home if it will create a financial hardship on your family or you’ll have to skimp on its care.
- Decide who will be responsible for the dog’s care. While all family members should be comfortable with the decision to add a dog to the household, an adult should handle the day-to-day care. Family members should be willing to help in training, exercising and caring for the puppy.
Taking the time to understand the responsibility of adopting a puppy or dog will make for a happy home. Once you’ve decided that you truly want a dog and have the time and money to care for it, you can open up your home with love.