Adopting a Dog for the First Time? Ensure You’re Well-Prepared for Pet Ownership with These Tips

Adopting a Dog for the First Time? Ensure You’re Well-Prepared for Pet Ownership with These Tips

Before you decide to get a dog, you must ensure you’re ready for the responsibility of caring for one. A dog will rely on you for everything for the rest of her life, including companionship, food, water, shelter, exercise, grooming, training, and veterinary care. This is a time commitment for the future and for your daily life, as well as a monetary commitment. Once you’ve decided that you can handle the responsibility of dog ownership, you’ll need to choose the right breed for you, prepare your home for a new pet, and brainstorm activities to keep your pet active.

Choosing the Right Breed

Many people choose a dog based on how it looks, but there are more important factors to consider, especially each breed’s temperament and training requirements. Although all dogs require some attention, some require a lot, while others need their own space. If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to training, getting a dog that’s harder to train isn’t a good idea. Also, consider that some dogs shed more than others. If you like a tidy home, longer hair is easier to clean up, while shorter hair weaves itself into clothing, carpeting, and furniture.

An apartment or smaller home isn’t ideal for some breeds that need a lot of space to move, such as Jack Russell terriers. Also, some dogs are more prone to barking, and thus aren’t ideal for some living situations. If you have children or plan on having them in the next 10 to 15 years (the average lifespan of most dogs), then choose a breed that’s more comfortable around children, such as a bichon frise, Cavalier King Charles, or Labrador. All dogs require daily exercise, but some require more than others. Be sure to choose a dog that meets your activity level.

Prepare Your Home for a New Pet

Before you bring your new dog home, you should dog-proof your house. Potential poisons should be removed or kept out of reach by placing them in a high cabinet or in a locked cabinet. This includes dangerous foods (such as chocolate and onions), medications, cleaning supplies, pesticides, antifreeze, and houseplants. Secure all garbage in the house, as it could contain choking hazards. Ensure the floor is clear of strings, wiring, and small objects, such as rubber bands and safety pins.

Don’t forget to dog-proof your yard as well. Some outdoor plants can also be poisonous to dogs. Ensure all doors to your home are secure, and if you have a gate or fence, ensure they’re also secure. Make sure your dog can’t dig and escape from under the fence. If you install a pet door, it should be the correct size and should close securely.

Activities to Do with Your New Pet

Any activity you do with your dog helps promote bonding, even training and grooming. Dogs love going on walks, but they also love to explore new surroundings. Try to switch up the scenery by taking your dog for a walk on trail, on the beach, or to a new park. Fetch is a classic game that most dogs enjoy, but playing hide and seek with your dog is also sure to get her tail wagging. You can also hide toys and treats for her to find around the house. If your dog likes water, take her for a swimming session.

Dogs don’t enjoy being left alone for long periods. It can lead to boredom, stress, or frustration, and these feelings can cause your dog to become destructive. Arrange fun activities for when your dog is home alone, such as a brain-stimulating toy. If you’re going to be gone for long hours or have a busy work schedule, hire a dog walker or professional pet sitter.

Before heading to the shelter to pick out a dog, research breeds to determine which ones would be best for you, considering the size, coat, temperament, and more. Try to spend time with the kind of dog you’re considering or speak to someone who has the breed in which you’re interested. Once you’ve reached a decision, dog-proof your home and discover activities to do with your dog and activities your dog can enjoy when she’s alone. Being prepared for your new four-legged friend sets the stage for the friendship of a lifetime.

Jessica Brody