Everyone that has a dog will tell you how brilliant they are. Who can resist the charm of a puppy, the feeling of success when your dog actually sits when you tell it to, or the over-the-top tail wagging you get just for walking in through the front door?
However, you need to remember that a dog will typically live for around 10-15 years and is, therefore, a long-term commitment. So take good measures to think about the cost, time, size of your home and any allergies your family might have, as well as the temperament, size, exercise requirements, life expectancy and common health issues of each breed.
How To Decide…
Here are our top 41 things to consider before deciding that getting a dog is the right thing for you.
1. According to the SPCA, the annual cost of care for a small dog is $420, a medium dog $620 and a large dog $780.
2. But be sure to factor in extra costs when bringing home a pup.
Emergency vet visits can be costly, so consider that before you bring home your buddy
3. Training a puppy takes a lot of time and patience.
If you don’t have the time to devote to a little tyke, consider adopting an older, house-trained dog through your local animal shelter.
4. Take your time if you’re considering adopting a new dog.
Talk with the staff at the shelter, make sure your new pup meets all the members of your household, and most of all, make sure you have the time and space to make sure your new buddy can live his best life with you!
5. Always, always, always get your pet spayed or neutered.
Dogs who get this procedure live healthier and longer lives, and it prevents contributing to the already overwhelming population of animals who need homes.
6. Before you even bring your dog home, make sure you have all of the necessary supplies!
This includes dog food, dog treats, bowls, toys, and a training crate.
7. A properly fitted collar should absolutely be on your checklist for your new pup.
There are many different kinds of leads you can get for walking, including head halters and harnesses–the best choice depends on each specific dog and his needs.
8. Absolutely get an identification tag for your pup and consider micro chipping, so you never have a chance of losing your best friend.
9. Your pup needs his teeth brushed, too!
Make sure you include a toothbrush on your list of supplies before you bring your dog home, but NEVER use human toothpaste–ask your vet for a special canine toothpaste made just for your pup!
10. It’s best to brush your buddy’s teeth daily, the same way you brush yours.
But if your schedule doesn’t allow that, be sure to brush his teeth several times a week.
11. Make sure to routinely check your dog’s gums and teeth, too.
Her gums should be pink, not white or red, and her teeth should be clean.
12. Safe chew toys can help your pups dental health while ALSO satisfying his desire to chomp.
13. There’s a long list of plants that could be potentially toxic to your pet, including tulips, lilies, and chrysanthemums, so make sure you refer to this list when puppy-proofing your home!
14. Be wary of lawn and gardening products as well. Insecticides and mulch can be harmful to your pup, too.
15. One of the first steps in bringing your dog home is scheduling an appointment to make sure your pup has the proper vaccinations.
Required vaccinations vary from state to state, so check with your vet to make sure your pup is healthy and up to date!
16. Make sure to factor time into your day for your dog to get enough exercise!
Exercise needs vary from each individual dog, but it is recommended that “healthy adult dogs need at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a day.”
17. Dogs need to stay entertained, so get your pup a puzzle toy like the Kong to keep him busy, especially when he’s home alone.
18. Laundry detergent can be harmful to your dog, especially the pods that can burst and get into their eyes, causing ulcers and infections like conjunctivitis.
Stow these away in a safe place and watch what your pup gets into!
19. Avocado, grapes, chocolate, garlic, and onions are all on the list of foods that are hazardous to your pet.
To see the full list by the SPCA, click here.
20. Other hazardous household items include fabric softener sheets, antifreeze, and mothballs.
Be sure to refer to the full list of hazardous items to make sure your home is totally puppy-proof!
21. Always check your buddy for fleas and ticks, especially during the warm months!
There are flea and tick prevention options as well, so be sure to discuss those with your vet.
22. Know that heartworm is a parasite that lives in the heart, transmitted from animal to animal by mosquito.
Heartworm infections can be fatal, so be sure to discuss with your vet heartworm prevention options. There is a prevention pill that can be given once a month, which will protect your pet from infection.
23. Start training your pup as soon as possible!
Dogs love to learn new tricks and training your new best friend will give you a reliable platform of communication. Consider signing up for training sessions, so a dog trainer can help guide you through the steps of making your pup an obedience PRO.
24. Be sure to consider proper nutrition when picking a food for your dog!
Depending on her age, her nutritional needs will differ, but proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are all essential parts of your dog’s diet.
25. Every breed has different grooming needs.
Wrinkly dogs like Bulldogs have different grooming requirements than fluffy dogs, like Labradoodles. Figure out how much time you have to devote to your dog’s grooming and do a little research before bringing a pooch of a certain breed home.
26. Get your pup used to having her feet touched because you’ll have to trim her nails.
If her nails get too long, they can break, which causes a lot of pain and can result in infection. Take it slow and be patient. Your vet and groomer will also be able to do this if you’re nervous about doing it yourself.
27. Your dog’s nails should “just about touch the ground.”
If her nails are getting snagged or clacking against the floor, they should be trimmed.
28. It’s recommended to bathe your dog at least every three months, and possibly more often if he spends a lot of time romping around outdoors.
29. Winter is tough on your pup’s paws; rock salt and ice melters can cause “sores, infection and blistering.”
If your dog licks his paws after stepping on these, he can ingest harmful toxic chemicals, so be sure to protect your pup’s paws during the cold months. Try out little booties to protect his feet altogether.
30. Same goes for the summer months!
Just like your bare feet on hot pavement, your pup’s feet are super sensitive to heat, so be careful where he puts his paws.
31. If you have a fluffy dog, be sure to comb and trim paw hair to prevent painful matting.
32. If you’re beginning a new exercise program with your pup, start slowly.
His paws may be sensitive initially and could become chafed or cracked, especially when running or hiking.
33. Keep your dog’s eyes gunk-free by checking them and gently swabbing with a cotton ball.
If your pup has discharge, redness, or constant runny eyes, he may have an infection, so keep an ~eye~ on him!
34. Those ears need to stay clean, too!
The curvy design of a dog’s inner ear lends itself to the development of “parasites, bacteria and yeast.” Floppy-eared breeds in particular are prone to these kind of ear infections. Your pup’s grooming and maintenance schedule should include regular ear checks, but don’t clean his ears so often that it causes irritation! Also note that frequent bathing and swimming can cause irritation as well, and never, ever insert anything into your dog’s ear canal.
35. Your dog needs a warm and safe place to sleep.
Consider getting a training crate or a dog bed, and you might even let your pup hop up in bed with you at night if you’re looking for a cuddle buddy.
36. DO NOT leave your dog tied up outside.
If you’re bringing a pup home, make sure he will have a place to stay safely inside your house. Tying a dog up outside “threatens the dog’s health and well-being and the safety of other animals and humans.”
37. Keep the Pet Poison Control hotline in your contacts.
They are available 24 hours a day in case of an emergency, and will guide you through the necessary steps to keep your pet safe.
38. On hot days, it’s best to leave your dog inside.
Even with cracked windows, a car can get dangerously overheated and leaving your dog outside for too long is harmful as well.
39. Make sure your dog always has access to fresh water (and not from the toilet bowl!).
Change the water “frequently to ensure freshness” and clean the bowl every day to prevent the “growth of bacteria.”
40. Tip: If your dog keeps knocking his water bowl over, purchase a bowl with a weighted bottom!
41. Most of all, make sure you give your new best friend lots of love!
Getting a dog takes time and patience, but the love that your new best friend will give you in return is worth every last second.