7 Things to Consider Before Adopting a Dog
There are over 3 million dogs in animal shelters across the United States. For animal lovers, this number is staggering. We want to do our part to save some of these dogs from a fate we all know is possible. Being a pet parent to a shelter dog is rewarding and a great way to give back. While your heart might be in the right place, there are some things you should consider before adopting a dog.
Are you ready for a dog?
There is a lot to consider before adopting a pet, but this is probably the most important question you can ask yourself. Dogs are a lot of responsibility and require care similar to a small human child. They’ll take up a lot of your time with daily walks and playtime.
In addition, you’ll have to make sure that they are fed properly and given enough time outside to potty. Dogs will need basic training and trips to the vet. Lastly, their care can be quite expensive. While none of these should scare you away, it’s good to be aware, so there are no surprises.
Dogs Need Time and Patience
Adoption means you’ll be getting a dog from a shelter or a pet rescue. While many dogs in shelters and rescues adjust perfectly fine, you should consider where your potential pup came from. Dogs that enter shelters are usually strays or abandoned by their previous owners.
This means that some strays will be skittish and frightened for a long time. They are not used to being inside or even in a fence. Your dog might try to escape back to its life by digging under a fence or chewing through a door. These dogs will need a lot of time and patience in order for them to trust you and to adapt to living inside with humans.
Abandoned dogs might have trust issues or may develop separation anxiety, which can range from moderate whining to severe cases where there have been instances of dogs jumping through windows. Like strays, these dogs will need patience and a lot of love to earn their trust.
Dogs Need Exercise
Dogs need a varying amount of exercise depending on their age and breed. For smaller dogs and older dogs, they may need less exercise as they will tire out faster. Dogs, especially younger dogs, with a lot of energy, like lab or retriever mixes, will be able to run for what seems like hours upon hours.
For average pooches, it’s recommended they get at least one hour of exercise everyday. This does not include smaller walks to stretch their legs or potty throughout the day. The good news about this is that exercise doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take your dog to the dog park or go for a run.
Dogs need a variety of mental and physical stimulation. While a challenging hike will sufficiently tire out your pup, you should also consider picking up a puzzle toy in which dogs will be rewarded with treats by solving a puzzle. Having plenty of toys on hand is also a good idea. Regardless of the type of exercise, dogs will require a good bit of your time every day.
Dogs Need Training
Dogs learn best when they have had the proper amount of exercise. For puppies and dogs that are new to being inside, they will likely need some time to get potty trained. If you’ve got an older dog, you may not have to do this step, and some shelters will work on this with dogs to increase their chances of getting adopted.
Many dogs will also need obedience training. They’ll need to learn basic commands like sit and stay as well as any tricks you may want to teach them. Dogs may also need to learn how to socialize with other dogs and humans if they haven’t had much experience with them before. They’ll need to learn to be proper citizens of your home and anywhere they’ll visit.
Dogs Need Veterinary Care
While many dogs won’t need expensive surgeries or have accidents in their lifetimes, they will need at least yearly checkups for vaccinations and general wellness care. They may need medications for minor issues like parasites or ear infections. Regardless, these checkups will take a little of your time and may cost you a little money for upkeep.
Dogs Need STUFF
Beyond training, exercise, and care, dogs will need a variety of supplies in order to keep them happy and healthy. Dogs will need toys, of course, but they will also need bedding, treats, and dog food.
Proper bedding is necessary for your dog’s comfort. Fortunately, dogs don’t need anything very fancy. In fact, some people choose to fold up a couple of blankets. However, there are many dog beds on the market to choose from.
Dogs need healthy food, which can be expensive. However, just as with humans, if you feed dogs better food, they will have less weight and health issues and fewer trips to the vet. There are many diets you can choose from, but it’s essential that you pick a food that has plenty of protein and is a good source of nutrients to maintain health. Treats should be of similar quality and fed sparingly.
Dogs Need Spa Days
While some pet parents will choose to take their dogs to groomers for maintenance, dogs will also need daily upkeep on grooming. For dogs with thick coats or long fur, they will need to be brushed at least a couple of times a week. Even dogs with thin, short coats will need to have their fur brushed often. There are specific brushes for different types of coats.
In addition to brushing, you may also need to give your dog a bath once in a while. Unfortunately, dogs have habits of rolling in anything that smells, so bathtime will likely occur. Make sure to use a shampoo that’s made specifically for dogs.
Dogs also need their teeth brushed just like humans do. Though they don’t require brushing morning and night, most dogs benefit most from daily brushing. This means you’ll need a proper dog toothbrush and toothpaste that’s formulated for pets. Dogs may need a little patience and training for this as well, but it could save them from painful gingivitis and periodontitis. Dog chews and bones can also help with this.
Lastly, dogs will need their nails done. Their nails should be trimmed every couple of weeks to make sure nails don’t get too long. Long nails can be easily torn off, which is painful and can cause infection. Nails that are too long can also make it hard for dogs to walk around comfortably. You’ll need a set of clippers and a file.
Dogs take a lot of time and maintenance. They cost money and may require a little patience. However, having a dog has many more rewards than drawbacks. Not only do they make us happy, but they can also make us healthier. Dog snuggles can lower our risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. In addition, they can reduce our anxiety. If you’re up for the challenge, adopting a dog can be a life changing experience for the better.