Thinking of bringing home a new furry family member? Sure, it’s fun to gaze through pictures on Petfinder.com and squeal over how cute the little buggers are, but there is so much more to adopting a dog than simply picking one out of a classified.
When my husband and I adopted two male puppies, we thought we knew what we were getting into. We expected the potty training accidents, the occasional quarrel between the boys, and the learning curve for obedience training, but the learning curve was steepest for us.
Life as it we knew it completely changed—two living beings relied solely on us for survival!
I gobbled up information on the highest-quality food and treats, the best training tips, socialization, appropriate exercise requirements, and health-care dos and don’ts. We’ve learned a lot along the way, but there are five things I wish I would have known before adopting dogs.
They’re Like Children
Whether it’s a puppy or an adult, dogs are a lot like children: they need training, exercise, attention, and preventative, sometimes emergency, health care—the list goes on and on.
Not only will you need to devote a lot of time and money into bringing a new pet into the home, but you also need a lot of patience. You’ll come home and find the oddest things torn to shreds—ummm, the corner of the kitchen cabinet? There will be poop or pee on the floor—often both. And your pooch is likely going misbehave at the most inopportune time—you know, like peeing on a small child in a park (true story). But that’s what being a pet parent is all about: teaching your dog right from wrong.
Of course, with the bad also comes the good: the hours of cuddle time on the couch, the soulful gaze of your little buddy, their funny personality, and a constant, loving companion.
So yes, dogs are like children in that they require a lot of attention and care. Be prepared to make that commitment to raise a well-balanced dog.
Dyson = BFF
Most dogs shed. A LOT. And the hair gets everywhere. Carpet or hardwood—no matter. But the lightweight Dyson is more than up to the task, and vacuuming on a fairly regular basis becomes creepily gratifying.
If you’re a neat freak, a high-power vacuum is a must. But also keep in mind pet bedding needs to be washed frequently. Check out these effective tips for prolonging the life of your dog’s beds and toys, and keeping the smell at bay.
Did you know this is a thing? When I adopted the little rascals, I hadn’t a clue.
But dental disease is shockingly high in dogs—upwards of 90% of dogs will end up with some degree of dental disease by the time they are just three years old. Read that again—three years old!
Small dogs are more prone to dental disease, and it can be deadly. It’s certainly cutting your dog’s life short, ranked #2 of PetMD’s 11 ways we are prematurely killing our dogs.
Hard chews alone won’t do the trick, especially for tiny dogs with small jaws who are more prone to cracked teeth.
Brushing your pet’s teeth—yes, a soft toothbrush and specialty paste—is at a minimum a weekly necessity. Slack off on this and you could end up with a vet bill nearing the thousands for cleaning, extractions, and medications—and that’s if the infection hasn’t already gotten into your dog’s bloodstream.
Take a look at this most adorable puppy:
This sweet little thing of five months was my love bug from the get-go—after he pooped in the car out of fear. Something happened to our Yellow Dog involving the car and five years later, he still hasn’t gotten over it.
But that’s not all—he was likely abused by a man prior to us. We’ve spent countless hours working to get him over those fears—and you must address fear in dogs before it turns to aggression, which it inevitably will.
In the shelter or rescue, you never know what you’re going to get, but that’s the commitment you make to this innocent animal who never had a say in the matter. You are saving a life and sometimes, it takes a little more work to overcome past traumas.
Jetsetter No More
Unless you adopt a dog who fits in a small crate that together weigh less than 20 pounds, you won’t be flying easily or comfortably with your dog anytime soon. Flying your dog in cargo can be a risky venture and some airlines won’t even do it anymore.
Sure, you can drive, but you’ll have to find dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, and attractions if you don’t want your pup sitting in his crate all day while you’re out enjoying your destination. Also be sure to factor in extra stops in your drive to let your dog stretch his legs and go potty.
If you leave your dog at home, kennels can be iffy—they may not be staffed 24/7 and a lot of dogs are very uncomfortable being “stranded” by their parents in such a stressful environment.
Dog sitters are definitely the way to go, but keep the added cost in mind. Rover offers price points to fit any budget, and most sitters will send you pup-dates so you can see your furballs while you’re away—you’ll miss them, trust me.
The Bottom Line
There’s a lot to consider when adopting a dog. Besides making sure the breed and size are the right fit for your lifestyle, make sure you have the time, energy, finances, and patience for all that goes along with adding a dog or dogs to your family.