If you’re a natural dog lover, resisting the big eyes, floppy ears, and wagging tails you meet at the shelter will be tough, and you’ll be tempted to go home with the first furry friend you meet. You’re already doing a good deed by choosing to adopt, but there’s more to adopting a rescue than picking out the cutest pup in the pack.
Too many hopeful dog owners end up returning their recently adopted rescues to the shelter because they made an impulse decision that ended up not working out. Do yourself and the dogs at the shelter a favor by thinking about these five factors before adopting a dog.
#1 – Puppies Are Hard Work
Everyone wants to go home with an adorable puppy, but many people don’t think about how much work raising a puppy really is. Between house training, crate training, obedience training, and never-ending energy, owning a puppy is a serious commitment. It will take time, patience, and money to give your new pup everything it needs. If this sounds like too much work, consider adopting an older dog that already has some life experience.
# 2 – All Dogs Are Expensive
Adopting instead of buying from a breeder may save you a good chunk of money, but there’s more to owning a dog than that initial expense. Food, toys, supplies, medications, vet visits, and obedience classes will all take a bite out of your paycheck. Big dogs are usually more expensive than small dogs, long-haired dogs come with the added expense of grooming, and unexpected injuries and illnesses can lead to sky-high vet bills. If you’re not prepared to add pet expenses to your budget, now isn’t the best time to adopt.
#3 – Exercise Is Important
Unless you adopt an older dog who’s content to lounge around all day, your new pup will need daily exercise. Younger dogs especially rely on regular activity to keep them out of trouble, and certain breeds are known for being athletic and active. Herding breeds like Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs, along with Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Siberian Huskies are popular choices for pet owners, and they also like to be up and active. The energetic dog that catches your eye at the shelter is cute, but if you’re not an active person, it might not be a good fit. Try to find a dog that matches your activity level.
#4 – It’s A Family Affair
Many rescue dogs come to the shelter with pasts full of abuse and neglect. Some aren’t good with children, some don’t like other pets, and many develop a dislike for people of the same gender of the person who once caused them harm. A dog that was abused by a man, for example, may instantly act afraid or aggressive toward all men.
This is why it’s important for the entire family to be involved in the adoption process, including any other dogs you may have at home. Everyone should meet the dog before the adoption is finalized to rule out possible problems. Owning a dog that doesn’t get along with certain members of the family will cause serious confrontation.
#5 – You Might Move
One of the main reasons why dogs are dumped at shelters is because their previous owners decide to move and don’t want to bring their pets with them. When you adopt a dog, you need to realize it’s a lifetime commitment and not dependent on your living situation. If you rent, you need to be willing to find a place that is pet-friendly. If you’re in the military and move frequently, you need to realize moving your pet every few years will be an additional expense.
Many of the dogs you see at the shelter ended up there because their previous owners didn’t stop to think about what they were getting into. They decided a vet bill was too expensive to pay for, or they chose not to invest in training and got frustrated when their dog started chewing on furniture and peeing inside.
Regardless of the reason, it’s never the dogs’ fault. Adopting a dog will change both your lives, and with forethought and an objective outlook, you can ensure it’s a positive experience for all involved.