Before you adopt a dog

May 22, 2010

Is this the best time to adopt a dog?

Adopting a dog is a commitment throughout the lifetime of your companion animal. To determine if you’re indeed ready for that commitment, there are some things to consider before you bring a furry friend to your home:

  •  Moving to a new residence: Will the new place be suitable for a dog?
  •  Change in living arrangements: Will your new roommate or significant other welcome the dog?
  •  Pregnancy or new baby: Would it be too much to take care of the baby and a dog? Do you have enough help?
  •  Work hours: If your dog does not have a doggie door to go outside, can you come home during your lunch break to give him/her a potty-break? If not, can you afford to hire a dog-walker or a doggie daycare center?
  •  Financial concerns: Are you ready for vet bills, which can be quite expensive if an unexpected illness or accident takes place? How about training fees if the dog displays destructive behavior?
  •  Frequent travel: Do you have someone to house-sit and take care of your dog? If not, can you afford to hire pet-sitting services?
  •  Limited leisure or free time: Are you always out and about? You will now have to come home after work before you take off for the evening.
  •  Disagreement among family members: Are you sure that everybody in your household is happy to have a dog?

Selecting the right dog

When it comes to selecting a dog, it helps to research the traits by breed in order to find the right match. However, just as we cannot stereotype people by race, you have to remember that each dog is an individual and unique. If your dog shows unexpected behaviors, trainers and behaviorists are available to assist you with rehabilitation.

Puppy or adult dog?

Puppies are cute, but a lot of work. Unless you are home most of the day, or your family members have different work schedules to cover each other’s absence, a puppy would not be the right choice for you. It is no different from having a baby. Puppies require constant supervision and patience.

When you adopt an adult dog, unlike getting a puppy, what you see is what you get — no surprise in the dog’s mature size or coat type. Nonetheless, personality-evaluation by an expert is advisable, especially if you have children or other pets. In case the dog has “excess baggage,” a trainer or behaviorist can help bring him/her back in balance.

All in all, when you adopt a rescued dog, they are so grateful that you got them out of their previous situations, and become very loyal to you. Seeing your adopted dog blossom with your love is indeed a precious experience.

Marie Atake is Founder & President of Forte Animal Rescue and a former Commissioner on the Board of L.A. Animal Services.