12 things to consider before adopting a dog

Are you being pestered by your children for a new pet? Here are 12 things to consider before adopting a dog.

Adopting a dog is a wonderful experience and something the whole family can enjoy. But it’s also a big decision to make, and one that should not be taken lightly.

Before welcoming any new pet into your home it’s important to be aware of some of the responsibilities that come with owning it. Rescue dogs are a perfect option in some ways as you’ll be giving an unwanted animal a home, which is very rewarding.

Trethowans
Trethowans

They’ll also need a lot of training, exercise, and dogs can have a range of personalities. You need to make sure you think carefully and pick the right dog for your family. Here are twelve things to consider before adopting a dog. 

1) Dogs need exercise

All dogs need exercise, but how much exercise your dog needs can depend on the breed. Most dogs require a significant amount of time and energy, sometimes both mental and physical. So it’s important to plan realistically how often you can take your dog for walks.

If you don’t have much space at home, nor time to take them out frequently for long walks, you can opt for a smaller dog. Some breeds such as bulldogs might be less energetic.

If you do get a big dog, it will need long walks daily, and ideally a large garden. Choose the dog according to the space you have to accommodate. 

2) You’ll need training classes

Whether you adopt a puppy or an adult dog, they will need training. Even though many dogs are trained as puppies, training is an ongoing process. Unless you adopt a retired police dog, you’ll need to reinforce their training on occasion. Don’t expect your new dog to automatically understand your commands, or obey them.

There are plenty of free online training courses to help you. This is a great way to bond with your dog, too. Dogs are intelligent animals, and with the right positive reinforcement, they enjoy training. Give them lots of treats for good behaviour but be patient and firm.

3) You’ll have extra family responsibilities

Adopting a dog can sometimes cause tension. It’s a joint family responsibility but it’s natural that, particularly with parents, you will take on different roles. It might cause family drama or arguments if you can’t decide whose turn it is to walk the dog, so be prepared for this.

Make a realistic plan before you decide to adopt a dog. Who will be able to walk it and when? You also need to factor in feeding, bathing, the vet and shopping. Fortunately, petshops like Time for Paws make it easier by having everything you need for your dog under one roof. 

4) You’ll need to cover vet bills

One very important thing to consider is the cost of vet bills. Your dog will cost money to feed and look after, but vet bills are where your wallet will take the biggest hit.

To protect against this, many pet owners to take out insurance. Here are some average prices of pet insurance policies.

Whatever type of dog you adopt, they’re going to be a big responsibility financially. It’s vital to bear this in mind before deciding to adopt a dog.

Dogs may be free or cheap to adopt, but they’re high maintenance pets – and this can come with a hefty cost.

Pet insurance should cover your dog’s injections and operations. They will need regular checkups at the vet, so it’s wise to make some calculations and work out how to budget for your dog before you get one.

5) You’ll need dog sitters

As mentioned, dogs are a significant commitment, and once you adopt them it’s not fair to leave them alone in your house all day while you’re at work or out – even if they’re well trained.

This makes it much harder to spontaneously go out for the day, or take impromptu holidays. You will need to make sure someone will be able to watch your dog for you.

But if you’re organised, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem as there are several options. You can easily find a dog sitter online or ask a friend or relative who knows and loves your dog to help out.

Alternatively, you could book your dog into the local kennels. Just remember that you will need to arrange your dog sitting options in advance. If you plan to travel a lot for work, or otherwise, perhaps a dog isn’t the most suitable pet for you. 

6) Dogs can bring your family together

Once you’ve come to terms with the responsibilities involved, adopting a dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life. You’ll be giving a loving home to a dog that’s been abandoned, or perhaps even mistreated. This is a wonderful thing to do for them.

A dog can really bring your family together as well. It’s a great way to bond with your children, and teach them about love and responsibility. If you’re adopting from a rescue home or charity, you’ll be doing a good deed. You get a new furry friend while doing something for a good cause.

7) Rescue dogs are healthy

There are many misconceptions about rescue animals being dirty and unhealthy. This we’re happy to dispel this misconception. In fact, the opposite is true – dogs are given injections, microchipped and sometimes neutered at rescue centres automatically. You will be given a clean bill of their good health as a guarantee.

It’s a requirement for animals at shelters to have any treatments they need to get them ready for adoption. Rescue staff work hard rehabilitating all the animals. You can rest assured they’ll be properly cleaned up, free from fleas and groomed to perfection.

8) Your children will learn valuable lessons

There are several benefits of pets for children. It’s an important life lesson for them as they learn about responsibility and how to take care of things. Inevitably, it will also teach them about life and death. It’s a great way to teach your children many skills they’ll need later in life.

Often rescue dogs have had a sad start in life, and you can explain to your children how they’re doing such a good deed. Adopting a rescue dog will show your children the importance of learning to respect and care for animals. It’s very beneficial for them.  

9) You’ll get support and advice

If you choose to adopt a dog from a rescue centre, you will usually be provided with plenty of support and advice. Adopting a dog from a recognised charity is a good idea. They typically offer adoption advice, veterinarian advice, help with training and other information. 

If you have any questions or doubts before deciding to adopt a dog, the charity employees will be able to advise you on what’s best for your family. There are also infinite resources online about adopting dogs, pet insurance, costs, and how to care for them. You will have all the information you need at your fingertips. 

10) You’ll gain a friend for life

If you adopt a rescue dog they will repay your kindness with a lifelong friendship. You might need to work together to rebuild their confidence and trust, but once you get it they’ll show you loyalty and affection for life. You’ll be gaining a best friend, and a new addition to your family. 

Dogs are wonderful with children. On the whole, they are affectionate and playful animals, so by adopting a dog you’ll be guaranteed years of fun. Always make sure they’re properly trained and that you choose the right dog for your family and lifestyle. It can be a great opportunity to bring the family together. 

11) There are many unwanted dogs

This is a sad fact, but there were 10,564 dogs in RSPCA centres in 2019 alone. There are so many dogs waiting to be rehomed. By adopting a dog, you’ll not only be saving its life but also freeing up space in the shelter for another abandoned animal. Essentially you could be saving two lives.

Although it’s a very upsetting fact, don’t let this cloud your judgement before you’ve made a sensible decision. It’s probably not a good idea to visit the shelter if you’re not sure, as it might tug on your heartstrings a little.

You don’t want to rush into anything and adopt a dog out of guilt alone. Take your time and get as much advice from the staff there as possible, before going in.

12) Dogs have different personalities

If you’ve decided you want to adopt a dog, it’s important to consider the best type for your family. Although some breeds have typical traits, you want to focus more on the different personalities of each dog.

Would you prefer an energetic, playful dog? Or perhaps one that’s calmer and more docile? Try to picture your life with them at home, and imagine how you’d like to be.

The staff at the shelter will be able to give a little bio of the dogs there, so you can choose the one with the personality that suits you and your lifestyle. 

Adopting a dog is a big responsibility. It’s a decision you need to make carefully. You’re choosing to bring a new furry friend into your home and your family. Dogs need a lot of care and attention, so before you take the plunge, weigh up the pros and cons.

Photo by Joe Caione