So, you want to adopt a puppy!
A puppy will make a great addition to your household. If you have kids, they’ll get to grow up with their new friend and form a lasting bond. If you’re living solo, your puppy will become your best friend – a welcome face you can look forward to seeing whenever you wake up or come home at the end of the day. They may become your exercise partner, your protector, or your travel buddy.
You’ve probably already scoped out some of the local animal shelters and done some research about what type of puppy you’d like to adopt. But adopting a puppy is a big responsibility. Before brining a dog home, you need to be sure you’ve prepared for this commitment.
Here are 6 Things you need to do before you adopt a puppy:
1. Check Your Calendar
In time, your dog will be able to stay home alone for extended periods of time. But having a puppy in your house is much like having a newborn. Your puppy will require a lot of love, attention, and training before you can leave them on their own.
Before you adopt a puppy, make sure you have enough time to spend with them. Obviously, you won’t be able to spend every waking hour with your puppy, but puppies need constant attention in the first week and months. You may need to enlist the help if a friend or family member to watch your puppy while you’re at work if you don’t have anyone home to do so during your busy hours.
Consider using a puppy-sitting service if there’s no one else to help. Include your puppy in your calendar, and mark off specific periods of time to train and play with your puppy.
2. Write Up a Budget
Adopting a puppy is life-changing, but it can also be expensive. The first year of dog ownership generally costs over $1,000, that’s not including any payment you need to make to the shelter to adopt in the first place. Your yearly dog expenses could be more if your dog needs emergency medical care or if they have a medical condition that requires special attention.
When you adopt a puppy, you’ll have several one-time expenses
- Spaying and neutering
- Supplies (collar, leash, etc.)
- Initial medical exam
You’ll also have some annual and monthly expenses, such as:
- Annual check-ups at the vet
- Toys and treats
- Pet insurance
- Dog license
- Regular preventative medication (flea, tick, heartworm, etc.)
Before adopting your puppy, calculate the costs of all these expenses and make sure they fit into your monthly and yearly budget. It can be tempting to skip out on costs like pet insurance, but insurance could be a real lifesaver if your dog ever needs emergency medical care or major surgery.
When should you start training a puppy? The moment you bring them home. Younger dogs learn faster than older dogs. And if you don’t start training immediately, it’ll be harder to undo your puppy’s bad habits further down the road.
Start with the basics, like sitting, relaxing, being handled, and pottying in appropriate places. Create a schedule for training and set goals for yourself and your puppy.
4. Create a Long-Term Plan
On average, dogs can live for 10 to 13 years, with some breeds living as long as 18 years. Before you adopt a puppy, take any major life changes that may occur in the next decade into account.
Is there a chance you might move from the country to a big city in the pursuit of a new career? Are you planning on going back to school? Having a dog completely changes your life. You’ll need to include your pup in all of your major life plans.
5. Puppy-Proof Your Home
It’s usually a good idea to think of your puppy like a toddler. As such, there are a few things you should do to keep your puppy safe at home (and to keep you home safe from you puppy).
Your checklist should include:
- Covering power cords
- Covering trash cans
- Keeping medications out of reach
- Storing household cleaning items, pesticides, and other dangerous chemicals out of reach
- Moving small objects out of reach (such as remote controls or knick knacks)
- Creating a dedicated space for your puppy (a room, if possible)
- Setting physical boundaries (such as gates)
- Preparing your outdoor living space
Before you bring your puppy home, double check your home to make sure everything is safe and welcoming. It may take some time to get your puppy potty trained. Get some puppy pads just in case, and remove rugs that you don’t want to get messy from your puppy’s area.
6. Give Your Puppy Lots of Love!
Get ready to give you puppy lots of love and attention! Training will be an important part of your puppy’s development. If there are other dogs in your neighborhood, consider setting up playdates so your puppy can socialize and get used to other animals in a controlled environment. This will make it easier to take your puppy into public later on.