You've always wanted a dog, and now you're ready to bring one into your family. This decision can bring years of joy to all concerned, but only if you make the right choices and follow the right steps at the beginning of this exciting, sometimes challenging journey. Take a look at some important things you should know before adopting a dog.
Where to Find Your New Best Friend
Wonderful dogs can be found through a variety of channels, from reputable breeders to animal shelters. However, it’s important to research these sources carefully to avoid adopting a dog from a puppy mill with questionable breeding practices. Give serious thought to adopting a rescue dog that might face death without your timely intervention. Although your local shelter may have a few purebred pups available, mixed breeds make equally loving companions -- and they often have fewer inherited health risks.
What Kind of Dog You Should Adopt
Dogs display widely varying energy levels, personalities, and behavioral traits. Before you adopt a dog, think carefully about what qualities you’re looking for. Spend some time with each prospect to gauge the chemistry between you. Research different breeds for traits such as stubbornness, playfulness, intelligence, trainability, and whether they're good with kids and other pets.
Consider the dog's age range before signing the adoption papers. Puppies are indisputably adorable and allow you to create a bond from the beginning of the animal's life. However, they also require potty training, socialization, and dog training to make them good family members. Adult dogs may already know the basics of how to behave, and their more manageable energy level may prove easier to cope with. Senior dogs often make the calmest, most well-adapted pets of all.
How to Prepare for Dog Ownership
Dog ownership counts as a major responsibility. Dogs need more constant care than cats, who can often be left to their own devices for extended periods. If you must travel without your dog, be prepared to make care arrangements with a local dog sitter, boarding center, or pet-friendly hotel.
You'll want to stock up on all the canine essentials before you bring your new friend home. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a good brand of dog food for your pet's age, size, and overall health. Invest in a collar and leash as well as some chew toys, a crate, bedding, and other creature comforts.
Don't forget to pet-proof your home as needed. For instance, If you want to keep parts of your home off limits, install safety gates at strategic points. Get into the habit of storing foods, medicines, and cleaning supplies behind secure doors. If your dog will have access to your garage, clean the entire space thoroughly, and keep antifreeze or other automotive fluids out of paw's reach.
How to Prepare Your Family for a New Dog
Your new dog will need some time to settle in, relax, and get comfortable with the human and non-human members of your household. Before you bring your dog home, talk to your children about the need to be patient, quiet, and gentle with the new arrival. Once your dog learns that it has nothing to fear, it will come out of its shell and enjoy full participation as a member of the family.
While you shouldn’t give too much heed to the phrase "fighting like dogs and cats," your resident kitty may have trouble welcoming your newly-adopted dog at first. You can ease the transition by introducing pets to each other in brief sessions while they occupy separate areas the rest of the time. You can then increase these moments of exposure until both animals feel comfortable with each other.
What Kind of Vet Care Your Adopted Dog Needs
Whether you adopt a tiny puppy or a fully-grown adult dog, you should put a trip to the veterinarian toward the top of your to-do list. The vet will administer a thorough dog wellness exam that includes lab tests to check for parasites and diseases, an external evaluation, weighing, and any needed deworming or vaccinations. During this process, ask the vet lots of questions about general puppy or dog care.
Two important dog wellness procedures include sexual sterilization (in the form of spay or neuter surgery) and microchipping -- both of which your vet can perform in a single visit. Sexual sterilization prevents unwanted pregnancies while reducing aggressive behavior and the risk of reproductive diseases Microchipping, in which a tiny radio-frequency ID chip is injected beneath the skin, allows others to trace your dog back to you if it wanders away from the safety of your home. You should also consider a digital ID tag, one of the easiest and fastest ways for a lost pet to reunite with their pet family.
Put Your Knowledge to Good Use
Now that you understand some critical points about dog selection, adoption, and ownership, take plenty of time to identify your new furry family member, prepare your new life together, and ensure your dog's good health and happiness for years to come. Don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian whenever you need to schedule a routine exam or have concerns that might require professional attention. Dog ownership isn’t always easy, but knowledge is power -- so put yours to good use, for the sake of your canine pal!
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