Tips For Prospective Dog Owners
What to consider before getting a dog
—Cost of owning a dog: There’s more to think about than just food and water for your pooch. Annual vet bills, monthly flea and heartworm medication, treats, toys — the money can add up pretty fast. According to ASPCA, the yearly cost of owning a dog can range from $800 for a small dog to $1500 for a large dog.
—Amount of time to devote to a dog: Spending quality time with your dog is a must if you want to raise a truly happy and mentally healthy dog. Dog behavior specialist Cesar Millan recommends owners walk their dogs for at least 30-45 minutes every day. Some other ways to bond: Brush your dog’s hair, use their favorite toy for a game of Ã‚Â tug-of-war, or a few minutes of just some good ‘ol belly rubbing.
—Getting the right dog to fit your lifestyle: There are many factors to consider other than just getting a dog that “looks cute.” Make sure to research different types of breeds and note things such as temperament, activity level, and maximum size. It’s also a good idea to talk to a breeder or dog behaviorist for some advice on choosing a dog.
—Remember, where you live is where they will live: A tiny studio apartment is probably not ideal for a full-size German Shephard. Your new dog will need plenty of room to roam in order to stay occupied. Another factor to consider: do you own or rent? If you rent, check with your apartment manager or landlord and make sure dogs are allowed; also ask to see if there are any breed or weight restrictions.
–What kind of dog?Ã‚Â In addition to breed, size and activity level, you’ll also want to decide whether to adopt a puppy, adult, or senior dog.
Where will you get the dog from?
—Shelter, Breeder: Whether you choose to adopt from your local animal shelter or a breeder is completely up to you. After deciding what type of dog you’re looking for, you should have a better idea of which source will give you the best chance of finding your perfect pooch.
Beginning life with your new dog
—Vet visit: Make sure to schedule an appointment to get your dog checked out by a veternarian as soon as possible after bringing your dog home. Not only with the vet ensure your new friend is up to date with all of his/her required vaccinations, they will also perform a thorough exam to make sure there are no health problems. In most cases, those who adopt from a shelter are given a voucher for a free vet exam.
—Flea/heartworm control: These two things are a MUST for every dog! Both should be given to your dog monthly. Heartworm medication must be purchased from a veterinarian, while flea prevention products can be purchased either from a vet or from many pet stores. When it comes to choosing a flea medication, it’s best to avoid the cheap stuff. Most of the low-cost products do little to protect your dog from flea bites. Two of the best flea prevention products are Frontline and Advantage.
—Choosing the right food: At first glance, it may seem like all dog food is the same. However, just like in the human world, all food is not created equal! Make sure to choose food that meets all of the nutritional requirements of your dog’s particular age. Many premium dog food brands have age-specific dog food formulas for puppies, adult dogs, and seniors.
—Housetraining: This is one of the toughest parts of the new dog experience. Regardless of the age of your new dog, you can pretty much count on a few messes in the house. Older dogs usually catch on faster, especially ones who have previously been housetrained. Puppies take a lot more work in most cases. Time and patience are key factors in the housetraining process. Make sure to check out our tips on housetraining your dog.
—Toys: It’s important to have a few things around the house to occupy your dog during the day, especially when you’re not home. Head to your local pet store and pick up a couple of different chew toys and see what kind your dog prefers. Make sure the toys have no small parts that could possibly break off and pose a choking hazard to your dog.
—Microchip: In addition to an ID tag on a collar, microchipping your dog is one of the best ways to ensure your dog returns home safety if he or she ever gets lost. Microchipping costs anywhere from $25-$50, and is a quick and painless process that can be done by your local vet. Dogs adopted from a shelter are automatically microchipped, and the cost of the procedure is included in the adoption fee.