Bringing a new member into your family is a major decision. If you’re like me, you’re one lapse in judgement away from owning about 30 dogs after a stroll through the shelter. However, before you become “That Crazy Dog Person Down the Street”, there are a few things you will want to consider before making a commitment when seeking out your companion.
Are you or any of your immediate family allergic?
It would be horrible for both you and your newly adopted pet to be returned to the shelter due to the allergies of a close family member or a child. Allergies for some can be quite severe. It would be a good idea to check and ask those who frequent your house first. Your family physician will be able to assist you in setting up an allergy panel for your child if you have not already had one. If allergies are present you can consider restricting your search to hypoallergenic breeds, such as Poodles, Labradoodles, Maltese, and Schnauzers. There are still many breeds that you can choose from!
What do they require of their new family?
Each dog you meet will have their own unique personality quirks and requirements. It is not uncommon to see a dog notated as “No Children” or “Not Friendly With Other Dogs” or “No Cats”. These traits do not mean that they are a bad dog, and if you can meet their needs, it should in no way discourage you from taking them with you. Let’s move on to the biological factors. While all dogs require a level of exercise, some require a lot more. Any owner of a Belgian Malinois will tell you that very bad things may happen if their pup gets ‘bored’. Some breeds will also need to be frequently groomed to prevent matting and maintaining a healthy coat.
Is your house ready?
You will want to make sure that there are no toxic plants growing in your garden, or otherwise easily accessible to their curious mouths. If this is your first dog, you should also be aware that anything within reach can and will become a chew toy for some dogs. Always remember, if they make a mistake and wreck your sofa or expensive shoes do not take it out on them. Use it as a learning experience, I promise you’ll find yourself retelling the story with a smile. They are curious and may not have had a proper home before. They will need a gentle, yet firm, hand to help guide them to an understanding of their surroundings.
What resources do you have available?
How much space do you have available? If you are restricted to a small apartment, it would be best to consider a dog that does not require a lot of space. Pugs, Maltese, and French Bulldogs make great companions when space is limited, but they still need to go for walks. Having a nearby dog park is a huge boon for those with limited space. In addition to exercise, socialization is very important to having a well-adjusted pup. Talk to other local dog owners and see which parks they feel are safest for their loved ones. You will also want to begin researching what food is best for your new friend’s breed and activity level, and what local all-natural options are available.
Are you ready?
Are you ready to take them out for their walks every day? To take them to their veterinarian when they are ill, and to keep track of their vaccinations? Are you ready to welcome them into your heart and fall in love? Do not allow yourself to become discouraged by thinking about all of the responsibility. You can easily do it, and they need a loving home more than you can imagine.
Please consider adopting senior dogs, as well as dogs with disabilities. These perfect pooches are often overlooked by so many others and are prone to having very lengthy stays in the shelters. They need love too!