Adopting or purchasing a dog can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it also comes with great responsibility. Before bringing a furry friend into your home, there are several important factors to consider. This post outlines the top 10 things you should know and do before getting a dog.

1. Understand what you are letting yourself in for!

Firstly, it is crucial to understand the commitment that comes with owning a dog. Dogs require time, attention, and care on a daily basis. They need exercise, feeding, grooming, and regular veterinary check-ups. Dogs are fantastic companions, but only if you put time and effort into them and meet their needs (and their wants too, because some dogs can be very demanding when it comes to tickles and treats!)

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2. Research breeds

Next, consider the size and breed of the dog that best suits you and your lifestyle. Some breeds require more exercise than others, or may have specific health issues to be aware of. It’s all very well and good having a fascination for Frenchies, but if you love going on long hikes in hot weather, then they may not be the dog breed for you!

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The PDSA also has a helpful quiz here

3. Consider your living situation

Thirdly, assess your living situation. Do you have enough space for a dog? Are there any restrictions on pet ownership in your apartment or community? This point ties in with your breed research, because if you live in a small apartment, then getting a Great Pyrenees likely isn’t a wise decision!

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4. Make sure everyone is a-okay with your dog plans

It should go without saying, but ensure that all members of your household are on board with adopting a dog and are willing to contribute to their care. If not everyone in the household wants the dog right now, then don’t steam ahead and hope they’ll come around. Dogs can sense when they’re not wanted, and it’ll create issues down the line – both for the humans and the pup, so have those important conversations early on!

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5. Do you have any allergies?

Consider any allergies or sensitivities within your household that may affect certain breeds of dogs. There are lots of wonderful breeds out there that are hypoallergenic and don’t shed. However, grooming is essential for non-shedding breeds like the Yorkshire Terrier and Bichon Frise, and several hypoallergenic breeds shed lightly, so vacuuming and regular cleaning are necessary to prevent reaction-inducing dog hairs from accumulating in your home.

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6. Assess your finances

You’ll also need to evaluate your financial readiness for owning a dog. Dogs can be expensive to care for; they require food, vaccinations, grooming supplies, toys, and potentially unexpected medical expenses. Dogs like to keep you on your toes with their health, so be prepared for emergency trips to the vet, only to find out that they got stung by a bee, or simply need to pass gas!

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7. Consider how much time you have to train them

Think about how much time you can dedicate to training and socialising your new pet. Proper training is essential for their well-being and integration into your family. Research has found that a lot of so-called “pandemic puppies” have behavioural issues due to “their lack of normal contact and experiences during the long months of quarantine isolation”, so it’s important to make sure your pup gets socialised properly, both with humans and other dogs. For the latter, we definitely suggest group walks and/or daycare.

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8. Research Responsible Breeders/Rescues

There’s an ongoing debate about whether it’s best to purchase or adopt. Adoption, whilst a wonderful option, can be restrictive because any good rescue will always put the dog first, meaning that finding a perfect home can be tricky. And there are plenty of less-than-trustworthy breeders out there who don’t care about the welfare of dogs at all. Once you’ve decided to adopt or shop, make sure you thoroughly research the place and people you eventually decide to get your dog from.

Find out more about purchasing a pup from a responsible breeder here

Find out more about adopting a pooch from a reputable rescue here

9. Prepare yourself for the emotional journey

Seriously. Having a dog in your life is a wonderful experience – they bring immense joy, but it can also be stressful, annoying, and heartbreaking, so prepare yourself emotionally for the responsibility of caring for another living being. Dogs are a lot of work, but they are so so worth it. In fact, research indicates that dog owners experience lower rates of depression, loneliness, disease, and stress. Try to remember that last one when Fido is chewing your favourite pair of shoes!

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10. Are you ready for a new member of the family?

Lastly, remember that adopting a dog is not just about finding companionship; it is about providing them with a loving home where they will be cherished as part of your family. Be prepared to bond deeply with your dog and love them as much as they love you. Dogs may not be our whole lives (unfortunately, because who wouldn’t want to stay at home all day with their dog and nap and play??) but they do make our lives whole.