Getting a dog: key questions to consider

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Guide to managing your pets at home

You have decided to get a furry friend, Yay!. Dogs are fantastic companions providing support and bringing joy, fun and excitement to any home they are part of. However, they are a multi year commitment and just like your kids they need a level of care including keeping them safe, fed and healthy in a safe environment all of which requires enough time, space and money.

  • Responsibilities: Taking your time as a pet parent is a rewarding but equally demanding job, similar to the responsibilities of raising a kid. Consider why you are getting a dog. Is it because you grew up in a household with dogs or see others with dogs and want something similar? Are you wanting to do something rewarding by adopting a rescue dog? Make a list of qualities you imagine in your potential dog and discuss it with the shelter, they might be able to suggest a suitable dog based on your lifestyle and needs.

  • Lifestyle: Is your lifestyle apt for having a dog?

    • Energy levels: Identify energy levels of yourself and the dog. Are you looking for a companion for your outdoor activities like hiking, walks or runs? Or are you looking for a mellow friend who likes to sleep all day to keep you company. Based on your lifestyle and energy levels the shelter staff can find a better match.

    • Availability: are you away from home all day? Do you have to travel away from home a lot? If so, can you afford to hire a dog walker or doggy day care or ensure someone can check up in between? Some dog breeds, especially the ones from shelters may have separation anxiety. Anxious dogs may whine or bark a lot while you are away which may be an issue if you have sensitive neighbours.

    • Accommodation: With proper consideration, dogs big or small can be accommodated in small or large dwellings. Do you live in a flat (apartment), or a house with a yard? Do your residents associations have any restrictions on the breed, size and number of dogs you can have? Before adopting a new dog, talk to your landlord or residents association if you are unsure. Breaking the rules risks a hefty fine for you or worse the dog will end up back at the shelter.

  • Family: If you are not living on your own, then you would need to consider the needs of others in your household including other pets. Check with the shelter if they have dogs who originally lived with children or other pets. Allergies: Check if you or any of your family members who will be interacting with the dog on a regular basis are allergic, some dog breeds do not shed as much as others and are less likely to cause allergic reactions.

  • Financials: Have a good understanding of what expenses will be required. Things to consider: Cost of routine medical care Insurance Vaccinations Dental cleanings Any special diet or supplement requirements Grooming Beddings and toys Some shelters spay and neuter dogs before sending them to their new home. Some shelters may offer low cost veterinary care.

  • Fostering: Before making the commitment, consider fostering a dog from a local shelter. If fostering still feels like a big step, some shelters may have programs that encourage people to hang out with shelter dogs for a few hours or days. This gives the potential owners a chance to experience the joy of having a dog and the dog also gets a break from being in the shelter.


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