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Thinking about bringing home a dog? Before you take the plunge, check out this list of seven requirements you should meet before getting a new puppy or adult dog.
1. You have the time to train and socialize a new pooch. Bringing home a puppy (or even an adult dog) means a huge commitment of time and patience. You have to teach him the rules of your home — including potty training, safe interaction with children or other pets, and which items are dog toys and which are Mommy's brand-new pair of expensive dress shoes. On top of that, you should have time for training sessions — check out Mikkel Becker's list of the three lifesaving commands every dog should know — and, of course, adequate exercise.
2. You've considered which kind of dog fits your lifestyle. If you're a retired senior looking for a laid-back companion who doesn't need much exercise, a Border Collie may not be your best bet. And if you're an athlete searching for a running companion, you probably don't want to bring home a Pug. Before you get a dog, think about your exercise routine, your age and generally how a dog will fit into your lifestyle. If you're looking for a very specific personality, consider adopting an adult dog from a shelter or rescue group. Puppies can be a gamble, but one of the great things about adopting an older canine is that, for the most part, you know what you're getting.
3. You're financially ready to care for a dog. They may not need a $100,000 college education, but dogs do put some pressure on your bank account. Make sure you're prepared to pay for things like initial shots, spaying or neutering, preventive care, toys, food and cleaning supplies — not to mention routine and possibly emergency veterinary care for their entire lives.
4. You can commit to having a pet for the next decade or longer. Speaking of entire lives, those who are commitment-phobic should be aware that owning a canine definitely means a long-term obligation. A dog may be by your side for the next 10, 12 or 15 years — perhaps long after you break up with that boyfriend.
5. Everyone else in your home is on board. If you're thinking about getting a dog, talk with everyone you live with to figure out how the care and training responsibilities will be shared. Kids can be great helpers with things like refilling the water bowl and exercising the dog, but the majority of the work falls to you, the adult. And even if it's technically your dog, you should make sure your roommates know not to feed him table scraps or let him bark at the TV. And we're not just talking about the humans in your home being on board — if you have other pets, ask your veterinarian for tips on how to safely introduce them to a new dog.
6. The place where you live allows dogs. Many apartments and condominiums have restrictions on the size of dog that residents are allowed to have (usually measured by weight), and some do not allow pets at all. Also take into account whether you live in an area with breed bans. For example, it's illegal in Miami-Dade County, Fla., to own an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or any dog who fits the characteristics of those breeds.
7. You've studied up on care and safety. Obviously, when it comes to those topics, Vetstreet is happy to help! Being educated on pet ownership will make your life, and your dog's life, so much better when your new companion comes home. Give yourself plenty of time to research proper nutrition, potential hazards in the home, dental care and local veterinarians. We promise it'll pay off!
So what do you think? Are you ready to bring home a dog? If you're feeling queasy about the items on this list, check out our story on the seven signs you shouldn't get a dog.
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