Updated: May 20, 2021
It’s hard to turn down a cuddly puppy! It seems like dogs are designed to hit all of our needs: affection, trainability, companionship, and cuteness in spades.
But before you invest in the long-term with a canine companion, it’s important that you take a break and think about what it means. It’s more than just bringing home a puppy — it’s adopting a family member for anywhere from 10-18 years, give or take a few!
Your dog will be your furbaby, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you make the final commitment.
Think Long Term
The lifespan of a dog varies widely. Some big dogs, like the French Mastiff, have a life expectancy of 5-8 years. Some smaller dogs may live up to 18 or even 20 years, like the Chihuahua or Dachshund.
Of course, the lifespan of any given dog depends on a number of factors, including:
Inherited health issues
Acquired health issues
With all those factors in mind, it’s important to remember that, no matter what, adopting a dog is a lifetime commitment for that animal. You need to be ready to make a promise to care for them as well as you can, for as long as they live.
It’s definitely a good idea to think ahead to where you might be in 10 or 15 years, and make sure that your new best friend is a big part of your future.
Dogs Can Be Spendy!
Dogs are kind of like children — they end up costing more than you might think!
Some estimates say that you should budget anywhere between $500 and $1000 per year for your dog. The amount you actually spend will depend on their individual health needs, the food you give them, the boarding and care they require, and so on. But it’s good to keep in mind that animals are not cheap, when properly cared for.
Our furbabies are important to us, and they give us a lot of love and enjoyment. So they deserve a prime spot in our budget.
Find A Vet Before You Get Your Pet
From the very beginning, you will want to establish your new pup with a vet who will oversee his health and care. It’s always recommended to have a veterinarian in mind before you adopt your dog. There are a few reasons for this:
Some shelters require that you provide the name of your chosen vet on the adoption paperwork. They may even follow-up to ensure that you are giving your new dog the required care.
From day one after you bring your pet home, emergencies may happen. It’s better for the dog, and for your peace of mind, to know who you will take your new pup to if necessary.
You may know who you want to bring your dog to, but getting them in for an initial consult or age-appropriate shots may not happen as quickly as you want. Establishing communication with the vet before you bring the dog home will help you to get your appointment on time.
Dog-Proofing Your Home
The more you research what it takes to get your house ready for a dog, the more you may find that it resembles bringing home a baby! The amount of dog-proofing your home requires may depend on the type of dog you choose, as well as the age and level of training.
However, it’s always better to over-proof than under-proof. Make sure that anything your new pup could chew on is safely put away. Provide toys for them to chew on, and be ready to distract them if they head for power cords, furniture, or rugs.
Bring Home The Toys And Accessories Beforehand
When we brought our dog home, they were ready to play from the first moment! Okay, they may spend a few minutes walking around sniffing everything. But if you can give them something to chew on (here's a list of some of the best toys) and play with from the very beginning, it will make their transition period that much easier.
Furnishing your house with toys and accessories like beds, grooming tools, and dishes before you bring the dog home will help both you and the dog to get used to the new circumstances and environment. Train your dog from the beginning to realize what belongs to her, and what belongs to you.
Speaking of training…
Training From The Beginning
The earlier you start training your new pup, the better. There are a plethora of dog training articles and videos available on the internet. Some of these are even breed-specific, allowing you to compensate for the strengths and potential weaknesses of the breed.
Don’t forget that socializing your dog is extremely important! Be ready to take your dog into different environments and introduce them to different people and animals in order to cultivate friendliness and responsiveness.
It’s always a good idea to be ready to jump in with training from the very first day. Two things are required for this, and we’ll get into those next!
The first thing is that you should really educate yourself on what dogs need and how you can provide the best environment for a new dog. This could be everything from what you need to be prepared to do — grooming, for instance — and what individual breeds need as far as specific veterinary care.
It’s also important to make sure that you know about the health tests that different breeds should have, as well as knowing why to avoid backyard breeders, pet stores, and puppy mills.
Research The Breed
Along with that generalized knowledge, we definitely recommend researching the individual breed for expected life span, health issues, things to look for in confirmation, how easy they are to train, and so on.
A final thing that you need to know before you get a dog is the importance of training — for yourself!
Puppies, like we mentioned earlier, are like babies or small children in a lot of ways. They require patience, nurturing, training, and lots of love and care.
If you tend to be short-tempered, impatient, and easily distracted, you may not be quite ready to bring home a dog.
To ensure that your new dog has the best chance at a happy, healthy life, you should know what kind of dog parent you will be.