Thinking of adding a dog to your home? Before you bring a dog home, ask yourself these important questions:Read Now
Where are you going to find a dog?
There is always a surplus of dogs in the San Antonio area; consider adoption. Shelters have many great dogs that are in desperate need of a home. There are plenty of both purebred and mixed breed dogs to choose from. If you decide to purchase a dog, do your research. Look for a reputable breeder rather than a backyard breeder. Reputable breeders will ensure the health of your puppy whereas backyard breeders only breed for profit with little or no regard for the puppy’s health.
What is your lifestyle like?
Your activity level needs to be compatible for your new dog. If you like to be outside daily and love exercise, a boisterous Labrador retriever, Boxer, or Pit bull may be a good idea for you. If you like relaxing on the couch and watching a movie, an older dog or a smaller companion like a Chihuahua or Shih Tzu will be a better match. If you have children, a dog that is friendly, not sensitive to touch or sound, and actively seeks attention from kids is a must.
How much time for a dog do you have in your daily routine?
Dogs of all ages need attention so make sure you have the time in your day-to-day life for your dog. Dogs that get little to no attention or spend a majority of the time outside alone tend to have behavioral issues like excessive barking, digging, and lack of social skills. If you are gone for more than 7 hours a day, an adult dog will work better in your life than a puppy. Puppies are cute but they need a lot more attention in regards to house training, socialization, and other things. Even when bringing an adult dog home, it is a good idea to get a dog walker or neighbor to break up the day for the first couple of weeks to aid in acclimating them to your household and to help with housetraining. To ensure your new dog's success in your home, it is important to include positive reinforcement training in youfrom day one.
Is everyone in the family ready and willing to have a dog in your home?
It is vital that everyone (including any other pets) wants a new dog in their home. A new addition can drastically change the household dynamics and could lead to potential problems. A great way to make sure everyone is as enthusiastic is to pet-sit a friend or neighbor's friendly, social dog.
Who is going to be responsible for the care of the animal?
If you are getting a pet for your children, remember that you as the adult are going to have to take the majority of the responsibility. Children may promise to take care of the dogs but they do not realize that it is a 10-15 year commitment. Their interest will likely wane a few months after you get the dog.
Can you afford to care for a dog for 10-15 years?
Dogs give you lots of love but when it comes to paying the bills, they can’t help you. The initial cost can be steep. Adoptions fees typically run between $30-$100 dollars and usually include spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and micro-chipping. Other costs include a crate, toys, brushes, bowls, leash, collar, food, yearly and emergency veterinary care, medications, boarding, and training. Expect to spend anywhere from $700-$2000 per year on your dog.
If you are unsure of the answer to any of these questions, consider volunteering at your local animal shelter. You can help by walking, training, and socializing dogs and puppies. It is the perfect opportunity to see what it takes to care for an animal. Most shelters welcome volunteers who can foster shelter animals. Fostering is a great way to see what works and does not work with your life and your family.
CPDT-KA and Animal Behavior Consultant