Are ready to adopt?

Here are some important things to consider:

TIME: Do you actually have enough time to commit to a dog?

Flexible schedules to allow the dog to ease into your routine at first. Going forward training, proper socialization and sufficient exercise time is essential in having a calmer, well-adjusted dog. Whether you’re adopting a rambunctious puppy or a sweet senior, every dog needs training — from a young pup who requires complete housetraining to an older canine who just doesn’t know your routine yet. And, depending on the dog, walks will range from 20 minutes to multiple hours per day. From training to exercise, every new dog is a serious time commitment. Consider your work schedule, vacation planning and changing family structure.

FINANCES: Do you know what it costs to adopt a dog?

Besides the typical food, vet visits and toys, which is an estimated $650 per year; consider the financial toll dog training, physical emergency or runaway dog may take on your family. Do the proper research and price shopping ahead of time in order to evaluate your financial situation in these real-life events. - Living situation: Is your home/neighborhood suitable for a dog? Some dogs are more active and will require a fenced in yard to run around. Some dogs are “clumsy” and will need an uncluttered home. Some dogs will want a “personal space.” Some will not do well in a busy city. Take a good look at your living environment and consider the needs of the dog you want to adopt. Also, make sure there are no laws prohibiting you from having a dog, certain breed or size of a dog residing in your home. The right living situation can make a day and night kind of difference not only in dog’s life, but also in yours.

OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS: Is there any potential for people or other pets to develop an issue with the new dog?

When adopting a dog, have a complete consent from all adults residing with you. Discuss responsibilities ahead of time. Do not bring the dog home as “a gift” or “a surprise” for someone else. Do not count on your child or spouse to take responsibility for the pet you have adopted. Take a good long look at your circumstances. Who else will be sharing the space with your dog? Has that person — or pet — lived peacefully and healthfully with other dogs before? What will happen if you or other family member develops an allergy? What if your current pets don’t get along with the newcomer? Are certain you have the ways and means to handle any unexpected issues?

LIFE CHANGES: What happens to your dog if...?

No one can predict and account for all the life-altering events in your future, but consider possibilities such as: losing your job, having a baby, moving or medical emergency. What will happen to your dog? Who will be taking care of him/her? Your work and home life might be stable now, but keep in mind that a dog is a 10-to-15-year commitment.

PATIENCE AND COMMITMENT: Are you ready to be selfless?

Whether it is chewing up your favorite pair of shoes, peeing on the carpet or more complicated fears, each dog is unique and will come with its own set of “quirks” that will not fit into your current life style or routine. You need to be ready to adjust, forgive and repeat with positive reinforcement over and over again. It’s easy to walk your dog on a sunny Saturday afternoon. But what about at 3 a.m. on a snowy Wednesday night? Dogs are demanding of your time and resources, even when you don’t feel like it. They’re a big responsibility and sometimes an inconvenient one, especially when all your friends are road-tripping for the weekend and your pet sitter is out of town. For potential first-time dog guardians, if you can pass up some of your previous lifestyle choices because you’ve got a new full-time dependent, then you’re ready to adopt a dog.

For those not 100 percent sure, fostering a dog is a good way to learn if you’re ready. There’s so much more to dog guardianship than unconditional patience and love. So, are you ready to adopt a dog? If you’ve answered “yes” to the questions in the checklist above, you are ready to adopt a dog. Now all that’s left is finding the right dog for you!

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