Dogs are adorable. They’re so fluffy and loving and just too good for this world. They make great companions and provide a strong sense of security.
A dog is a great addition to any household and I applaud you if you are looking to adopt a dog in need. But please know that dogs, while so loving and loyal, are also a lot of work.
Before you adopt, here are things to consider before adopting a dog:
1. Where you’re currently living.
Depending on the size of the dog, your new buddy is going to need some room to roam. Even as a puppy, the tornado of destruction takes up space. Your dog needs space to explore, to be entertained, and to go to feel like they have some territory. An apartment is okay, as long as you’re taking her for walks regularly. A house with a yard is even better (although make sure you have an intact fence that is at least six feet tall).
When a dog gets bored, the odds of destruction and misbehavior increase. And the smaller the space, the more destruction per square foot. Giving your dog space, toys, and active attention and training will reduce this, but for the times you aren’t home, you want to be sure the amount of stuff she can get into is a minimum.
My six month old German shepherd, Juno, is teething right now, so we come home to something chewed every day. This is something she’ll grow out of, but the path of destruction is real to the point where we’ve put everything below three feet up higher and left a six-inch buffer around our counter tops because of her size. If your apartment or house is pretty packed to the brim and those shelves below three feet are prime storage space, you might want to hold off on getting a pup.
2. Dogs make messes and are a mess.
One of the biggest thing you’ll see on an adoption application are questions about what you’re willing to put up with. These include chewing, digging, and “eliminating” (pooping/peeing) inside. While many of these behaviors can be trained or they’re grown out of, some aren’t.
Before you adopt, it’s important to know what you’re willing to put up with and what you absolutely can’t. And be honest with yourself. If you don’t have the patience for certain behaviors, even at all, you might have to rethink adopting a dog and consider other animals as pets.
Adopting a dog is a commitment that involves unconditional love. If you have any thought that you might not be able to do this and could end up returning the dog, please hold off on adopting until you are fully ready.
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3. Dogs need face time and activity.
Most cats are pretty chill about not spending direct time with you. Usually it’s on their terms and they’re okay just being in your general proximity.
Dogs on the other hand develop tight attachments to their people. That pup is going to follow you around and want to spend face-to-face time with you. This is important to their development and socialization around other people as well. They look to you for direction and guidance, very much like a small child. And they do get lonely and bored if you aren’t with them for extended periods of time. As I mentioned before, boredom tends to lead to misbehavior.
Most dogs, depending on their size, also need to be walked regularly. Many medium to large dogs MUST be walked every day, especially if your living space is smaller. Not only will this get their body moving and healthy, but it will also entertain them and wear them out to curb some misbehavior and boredom later in the day (they can’t get in trouble if they’re sleeping).
Walks are also really good bonding time for you and your dog. A walk teaches your dog the communication expectations and lets you see some of your dog’s personality by seeing what they sniff and how they react to other people or animals on the way.
Before you get a dog, consider these things and the time they take. Your dog wants to spend time with you and needs time to be active.
4. Know the real costs.
Taking care of any living thing is expensive, and it starts with the adoption fee. The shelter that we adopted Juno from charged $350 as an adoption fee. This covered vaccines up to that point and spaying, as well as a voucher for an initial check up with their vet and the implanting of her microchip.
In addition to this, we also purchased about $180 worth of supplies (bed, crate, food and water bowls, etc.) and toys. We also bought a leash, harness, and a $35 bag of food from Costco (she goes through one of these every month) and have had additional vaccinations administered to make sure she’s fully healthy. We’ve also had her tested for worms and paid to have her boarded while we went on vacation.
Dogs are expensive and require a lot of maintenance, especially if you get a puppy. Between the vaccines, grooming, and also the replacement of your potentially destroyed stuff, the costs add up. And they don’t stop as the puppy gets older. This is a living creature that requires medical care and home comforts.
5. Are you ready to be responsible for a living thing?
Ask yourself the ultimate question: are you able to care for and handle another living creature besides yourself? Juno was the first dog I had ever owned myself. I had grown up surrounded by dogs, so I thought it couldn’t be that much different.
But I was wrong. It’s more like having your own kid versus taking care of someone else’s (although I don’t have my own kids, so maybe I’m wrong). When you’re taking care of someone else’s kid, they are ultimately not your responsibility. At the end of the day, you get the give the kid back and live your life, kid-free.
When you have your own dog, you are the one who has to walk her, you are the one who has to feed her and make sure she has enough water, and you are the one who is the fall person for anything your dog may do. You have to handle it when they poop in your house or jump on someone. That’s all you. So make sure you’re prepared for that.
Dogs are a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong, Juno has brought us a lot of joy and I love coming home to her sweet face every day. But she is also exhausting and expensive. Make sure you’re able to handle all that owning your own dog entails.
If you do decide that you’re ready to handle a furry buddy of the canine variety, please consider adoption. Check out your local shelters for available dogs (or cats as well). Many box pet stores also have adoption events sponsored by those local shelters, so keep an eye out for events in your area.
A pup is a joy and a mess, all rolled into one furry and strong body. Good luck with your new furry friend!