After a long discussion, either with your partner or yourself, you finally decide it’s time to get a dog. You’ve dog sat your best friend’s poodle several times, and now you’re her go-to person when she’s away. At parties you’re always petting or playing with the dog (totally me…), you awe at a stranger’s cute puppy playing with their tail while sitting at a coffee shop…You just can’t take it anymore! When is it my turn to get cute matching collars and leashes?! Or buy sweaters that say “I’m adorable AF”?
That night, you settle on the couch, get your laptop open, and start searching. They all look so cute! And they need a home!
But, that’s only half the battle. Do you want a large dog? Small? Older? Puppy? Do you live in an apartment or a big house? Do you have time to train your dog? Is there a place for your dog to run?
These are things you need to think about! While oohing and awwww-ing at adoptable dogs is a good start, you don’t want to choose a dog solely based on looks, then come to find out they’re not a good fit for your lifestyle. So, to make the search for that lovable pet easier and less stressful, here are 10 questions you need to ask before getting a dog.
- How much space do you have? Is it a small, studio apartment? A condo? A house with a backyard? A large dog probably won’t do well in a 400 square foot studio, whereas a smaller dog, like a Chihuahua or Boston Terrier, don’t need a lot of exercise and would be fine. So before you begin your search, choose the size dog you’re looking for in the search area (small, medium, large or extra large).
- How demanding is your Job? Do you work from home? Part-time, 20 hours a week? Or 80+ hours at a highly demanding firm? If you work at home, a puppy could work, as you would have time to train it. Regardless, dog needs to get out during the day, so consider whether or not you can easily leave on a lunch break and take the dog out for a mid-day walk. If you work 80+ hours, strongly consider if you have time to take care of a pet. Alternatively, get a dog walker to help when you just can’t leave the office.
- What type of environment do you live in? Do you live in a suburban neighborhood? City? Out in the country? Think about what type of dog would thrive in those environments. If you live near a lot of noise, ask the rescue groups which dogs aren’t anxious around people, cars, etc. Live near children? Ask about which dogs love kids. Looking at a dog that doesn’t get along with other dogs? It might not be a good choice for a neighborhood with lots of kids and other pets, but perfect for a half acre of land.
- Are you ready to take care of a puppy? Yes, they’re cuddly and small and just so darn cute. But they are A LOT of work. When we got our dog at 8 weeks old, we had no idea it would be 5X harder than we expected. I see at it all the time when volunteering at my dog rescue. The cute puppies get adopted quickly, and the older dogs are overlooked. I’m have nothing against puppies (how could you?!), and it’s great to be able to train them how you want, but just remember this when you’re up every 2 hours for the next few months taking them outside and destroying your furniture. Older dogs already have their personality set, and some are even house-trained. Think about how much time you can devote to a puppy.
- How active is your lifestyle? I’m not judging, really. But dogs need exercise! They need to burn off that energy and run around, just like humans do. Do you love to hike 5 miles a day? Maybe just walk around the block a few times? Or are you lazy (like myself) and want more of a cuddle buddy? When looking at dog profiles, see if they mention what their favorite activities are. Does it say “Loves to hike and swim” or “Walk a little bit but then lay on the couch watching Netflix”? Also take a look at the breed. While most rescue dogs are a mix, a lot of them have a main breed, like “Boxer Mix” or “Lab Mix”. Those types of dogs require a lot of exercise. Consider your level of activity when searching for the perfect pooch.
- Do you have other pets at home? Are you considering a second dog, or have two cranky cats? One of the most common questions asked when I volunteer is “Is this dog good with cats?” Sometimes it’ll say on the dog’s profile “Cat Tested” or “Good with Cats”. Consider how your pets at home would do with another furry family member. Do they get stressed easily? Love having visitors? Try fostering first to see how they do, so you know before committing.
- Can you afford it? Pets are expensive. The first visits to the vet are costly, especially if you adopt a puppy or an older dog who may have health issues. Of course, you need at least the basics – a crate (if necessary), a bed, food and water, leash, collar, treat bag, poop bags and dispenser, dog shampoo, heart worm and tick medicine… A dog can cost $500 – $1,000 a year. While that may not sound like a lot, it could be if you’re on a tight budget. That’s not including any medical issues or emergencies.
- Are you ready to put in the work? Are you willing to train your dog? Take it to obedience class if necessary? Socialize it with other dogs (if the dog gets along with other dogs)? Walk it at least 3 times a day? Take it to the vet routinely? Many rescue dogs come from horrible or unknown circumstances, and most of the time dog rescues do not know their origin (unless they’re a puppy). Remember that you have to put it the work. If you commit and work hard with your dog, the results will be rewarding.
- If you have a partner, are you both committed? You may REALLY want a dog, but does your partner? You both need to be on the same page, as this is a commitment you both need to agree to. So, before you search for a dog and sign those adoption papers, make sure you are 100% ready.
- Do you have a plan for dog care when traveling? Our dog comes with us 90% of the time, as he can fly and drive with us. However, dogs can’t always go with you, so you need to have a back up. Are there friends and/or family nearby willing and able to help? If not, is there a daycare center? If you love to travel, consider how a dog would effect your plans. A lot of dogs love to go on road trips or be outdoors, so having a companion with you could be a blast. But if you travel out of the country frequently or just aren’t able to take a dog, maybe reconsider bringing one into your life.
I hope these questions help! Good luck in finding your furry family member! Do you have any other questions you’d ask? Sound off in the comments below!