Pet Parenthood : Seven Important Things To Consider Before Adopting A Puppy
Updated: Feb 28
The decision to bring a puppy into the family is a serious one whether we think so or not. Choosing and adopting should be considered as important as so many other life decisions like buying a car or house, choosing a mate, or even having children. This decision is one that will last a decade or more and is meant to bring joy and happiness; to create a special bond that leads to endless happy memories.
If you have decided to adopt a puppy, it is wise to create an adoption plan, laying out a detailed vision of the entire process. This way, by setting out all aspects associated with dog guardianship, you can develop a plan for success.
You most likely already have an idea of the breed you favour most. Regardless, it would be wise to research it further. In order to find the breed that suits your lifestyle, family structure, financial and living arrangements, perhaps choose two or three breeds to analyse. By first making a check list of your lifestyle habits and preferences, you can check off traits in a breed that would blend well.
Rescue or Kennel
Once you've decided on the breed you want, the most critical decision you may make will be on where you plan to adopt. Sadly, our world is filled with those who breed for nothing but profit and thrive on deceiving uneducated folks. Whether choosing to adopt from a pet rescue or a breeder, make certain you fully research and make background checks on any organization you select. Even if you receive a referral from someone, it is still advisable to make that investigation. Expect to make at least two or 3 visits to meet the breeder. Gauge your rapport with the breeder. Ask questions about their experience and their knowledge of the breed. Insist on seeing the parents of the puppy. Understand that you'll be required to sign a contract stipulating such things a spay/neuter, registration in puppy training programs, returning a pup in the event it doesn't work out.
Do the Math
Adding a fur-kid to the family isn't for the faint-of-heart when it comes to the pocket book. It is estimated that the outlay of cash over the lifetime of one canine companion will likely be upwards of $20,000 when all is said and done. The initial cost of adoption, veterinary visits, food, supplements and treats, toys, bed, leash/car restraints, grooming, etc. will add up over time. On average, you should expect to spend roughly $150 to $300 per month.
What's in a Name
Your puppy may already have a "registered" name if you have worked with a pure breed kennel. You'll likely just choose a "nickname" to use everyday. Have fun when deciding on a name for your baby and allow the entire family input into the decision. If you've adopted a rescue and don't care for the name, it may be wise when renaming a pooch, to choose something with a similar sound to reduce the amount of confusion that will likely ensue. Naturally, nicknames will be introduced over time and gradually become recognized by every one of our fur-kids. For more tips on choosing names read my article What's In A Name?.
Training and Discipline
We all refer back to how we were raised by our parents when we embark on the parenthood trail ourselves. Raising a pooch will require more knowledge and education than we expect. And it's a never-ending learning curve. Understanding how, why, and what makes our fur-kids tick will go a long way to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling relationship with them. Spend the time and learn how to implement positive reinforcement training, conduct fun and stimulating playtime, and provide a space (crate, bed) where puppy feels safe.
Preparing the Household
Regardless of the age of the fur-kid you adopt, your entire household will become completely disrupted! It will be extremely important to plan ahead and allow extra time for everything you do. Dogs need structure! Be sure that, from the outset, you plan a routine that provides adequate time for feeding, potty breaks, play time, and sleep time. With this new family member, a good rule of thumb for potty breaks is every three hours - night and day - for at least the first few weeks (depending on the age and other conditions of your pooch). Choosing specific times for feeding morning and night, gives your pet another aspect of structure to their day. And by including a potty break immediately after feeding, you'll soon find your pups will "go on demand". Ensuring that exterior doors are secured properly, that nothing toxic (including many types of food/beverages) is within reach, a solid fenced yard with a secure gate, stairs are blocked off until a puppy has "learned" them, and use of harness and leash whenever leaving the house are important considerations in the safety of your pooch. But remember, the more time you spend with your new baby, the better the bond, and the easier the transition into everyday life.
Choosing your Vet
Veterinary care can be costly but to select a clinic based on price alone could be disastrous. Soliciting recommendations from trusted sources is the first step. Choose a couple and then make appointments to go and meet the veterinarian. Your rapport with your fur-kid's doc is just as important as with your own physician. Be sure to consider the doc's background (you can likely find bios on their website but search the internet as well), clinic's location and hours of operation, cleanliness of the premises, the supplemental staff (vet techs and others), policies and procedures regarding surgeries and/or overnight stays, referral practices to other medical and non-medical disciplines, etc.
"Pet parenthood is meant to bring joy and happiness; to create a special bond that leads to endless happy memories."
A Final Thought
The benefits of canine companionship are numerous and scientific studies have shown that positive effects on our health and well-being can be measured. Like any "life" decision, choosing to adopt a dog should never be taken lightly. In fact, some of the worst reasons to adopt are buying a dog as a "gift", to teach the kids about the "birds and the bees", or the teach the kids "responsibility". Dog ownership is a privilege and should be embarked [pun intended] on with a commitment to a relationship with the understanding that it will last one to 2 decades, cost a sizable amount of money, require a time commitment, and most of all require us to love with patience and compassion.