Dog on a bridge

So, you’re thinking about adopting a dog. Good for you! I’m sure you and your new furry buddy (or your new bobo – this is the affectionate term I call all dogs I know) will be so excited to be part of your family. But before you adopt your new friend, make sure you do your research. You and your soon-to-be adopted pup will be better off if you know exactly how to adopt a dog before you get started.

How to adopt a dog: the questions to ask yourself first

Once you have your mind set on adopting a dog, it’s difficult to think of anything else. Take this time to make sure you’re really ready for a dog. Here are just a few things to consider:

Do you have the money to adopt a dog?

Sure, you know that you’ll have to pay adoption fees, but the money spending doesn’t stop there. Dogs need annual exams (and if you have my dogs, about six other vet visits a year for other dog-related fun), heart worm medication, food, and toys.

Do you have the time for a dog?

I’m lucky because I work from home, so I can take my pups out whenever. But if you’re working eight hours a day, you may want to think about what you’ll do with your pup when you’re out. Can you take your dog to work? If not, you may want to look into hiring a dog walker that comes to your home, or taking your dog to doggie day care a few days a week. Also: When you get home from work, get ready for a deluge of kisses and playtime. Dogs need attention and love, and walks – lots and lots of walks.

What dog breed is right for you?

If you are a high-energy person, adopt a pup who shares your energy. But if you want a lap dog, a calmer breed may be for you. Also: Keeping an open mind about breeds isn’t a bad idea. I swore the only breed I’d ever adopt was a beagle, but in the last year, I ate my words. I found a stray chow/shepherd I adopted, and a whippet/beagle mix. So, sometimes, even if you plan on adopting a certain breed, you’ll be surprised — and thrilled — with the dog you eventually end up with.

Also consider age. Puppies are so cute, but they are so hard to care for. If you are flexible, consider adopting an older dog. Older dogs are much easier to care for as they are typically already trained.

Visit a shelter

The Humane Society is a great shelter that has many adorable loving dogs. Many cities also have breed specific shelters, and other organizations that are dedicated to giving great dogs good homes. Having an honest conversation about the type of dog you want with a shelter employee could help you find the right dog for you.

Prepare your home

Dogs will, inevitably, have a few accidents even if they are potty trained at first. Make sure you’re prepared for those accidents by stocking up on natural cleaning supplies. Also: Make sure you dog-proof your home. At first, your dog will probably be a little nervous and may try to chow down on your cell phone, computer cords and more. Make sure you’ve stocked your pup’s living area with chew toys and bones to keep him or her busy.

And a last bit of advice: Adopt, don’t buy. Adopted dogs are so great. They are full of love and character and every bit as wonderful as a purebred dog.

If you need any additional advice about adopting your new best friend, consult any of the following links for great information:

ASPCA’s adopt page

ASPCA’s adopt a shelter dog page

The Humane Society

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Image: Eduardo Millo