Adopting a dog is a major commitment. Here are a few things to know and consider before bringing that little bundle of destructive energy into your life.
- What is the Life expectancy of the breed? You are adopting this dog into your family for their entire life. If a 12 or more year commitment scares you, get a goldfish.
In general, mixed breeds (mutts) have fewer health issues and live longer than pure breed dogs.
- Understand your dog breed activity level and need for attention. There is not a one size fits all exercise and attention plan for dogs. Research the breed and ask specific questions about the dog before adoption so you fully understand the commitment that you are making.
Are you getting a working dog? Make sure you provide a job for these breeds, or they will start their own career path that you may not like.
- Guard dogs (Doberman, Mastiff, Rottweiler) like to patrol and provide security for the entire perimeter of the property. My boys believe that the street and houses across the street are part of their domain, and they protect accordingly. And if they could talk, they would likely brag about zero murders and terrorist attacks on their watch.
- Herding dogs (Cattle dogs, Collie, Corgi, Sheepdogs, Shepherd) are smart, high energy dogs that need mental and physical exercise, otherwise, they go stir crazing trying to herd the family. These dogs do well in agility classes/competitions, but can be an enormous amount of time, so research and know what you are getting into.
- Trackers (Wolfhound, Greyhound, Beagle, Coonhound, Bloodhound) use sight and/or smell to pursue and capture. These dogs can appear lazy, spending most of the day relaxing in true “couch potato” style, until something catches their attention. Pursuit could be a lightning fast chase, or a relentless determination.
- Hunters (Terriers, Jack Russell, Westie) are notorious chewers that will nip, shred, and shake any “prey” they can sink their teeth into. Chase activities will keep them happy and focused.
- Dog proof your home. Just like baby proofing your house to keep baby safe, you have to dog proof your home to keep your home & dog safe. I know some children are very strong, but they cannot match the powerful jaws on my Labrador! Big dogs can be sneaky & stealthy like a ninja, and when I finally catch them in criminal activity I am grateful dogs do not have thumbs, making them unstoppable!
- Can I travel with my dog? Little dogs (dogs 20 pounds or less) can fly in the airplane cabin, in a carrier under a seat for an extra fee. Larger dogs up to 100 pounds are shipped in the belly of the airplane like cargo. I have never taken a dog on airplane, so I rely on short road trips or a good pet sitter. Hotels often charge more for pet accommodations and a good Pet Sitter certainly adds to the expense of any vacation.
- Annual expenses can really add up. After adoption fees, there will be food, toys, training classes, grooming, annual vet check-up, vaccinations, and emergencies.
- Healthcare expenses – Will you buy Pet Insurance or keep an emergency pet fund? How will you deal with an emergency?
- Have you estimated how much food will cost every year?
- Grooming costs vary by breed. Understand what are the grooming requirements and can/will you do the grooming yourself or pay the extra expense for a professional groomer.
- Even with a truck-load of toys and treats, sometimes the dining chairs look really tasty. Remember repair & replacement costs for chewed items can really add up.
Understand all of your responsibilities as a Pet Parent before you commit to your dog. When you are willing and able to provide food, shelter, health care, LOVE and attention, then you are ready for the most wonderful companion and friend – a dog!