If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you already have a dog. However, some of you may not have a canine family member yet, and are seriously considering opening your home—and your heart—to a dog. If you fall into that category, you’ll find this information very helpful. We also suggest that you share this article with friends who are thinking of becoming first-time pet parents.
Essential questions and answers for would-be dog owners
Do you rent your home? If so, you should check that your landlord allows dogs before bringing one home.
Do you live alone? Dogs are companion animals, and will be lonely if left by themselves for extended periods. If you work long hours outside of your home, and there is no one else at home to spend time with the dog, you may want to think twice before getting one—especially a puppy.
Do you have children? It’s a proven fact that children who grow up with a dog reap many benefits. However, while your children and dog are getting to know each other, you will need to be there to supervise. Your new dog—especially puppies—may see young children as littermates. As a result, he may jump up on your kids or nip at them. Children must also be taught that the new dog is not a toy. They may not realize that hugging their new friend too closely can hurt and scare him, and possibly cause him to react aggressively.
Does everyone in the house want a dog? If not, don’t bring one home—even if you think the people sharing your home will be won over when they see how cute he is. Everyone must agree to share their home with a dog. They must also agree to follow the house rules set for the dog. Failure to do this may make the dog confused, which is very unfair to the newest member of your household.
Do you live in the city or the country? Although dogs can live almost anywhere, some breeds are more adaptable to city life than others. If you live in a small apartment, you should consider a smaller-breed dog, and one that does not long to run around in large outdoor areas.
Do you have a cat or another dog? This isn’t a problem, unless your dog doesn’t tolerate other pets well. Some shelters will allow you to bring in your dog from home for a “meet and greet” which is always a good idea if possible. Also, make sure you allow time to supervise while the pets are getting to know each other. And be sure to spend time with each one, to ensure they get their own quality time with you.
Are you prepared for changes in your home? If your home is normally spotless, it won’t remain so after bringing a dog or puppy home. It is inevitable that during house-training a puppy will have accidents. And these may be on your brand new white carpet. Puppies—and even some older dogs—may also chew your cushions if they are bored or teething. And remember, a dog’s vigorously wagging tail can be a dangerous object around lamps and china. Much of this can be prevented by dog-proofing your home. But you should be prepared for the fact that your home will change once you invite a dog to live there.
Do you have a yard? This makes house-training your pup a lot easier, but it is not a prerequisite to raising a puppy. If you don’t have a yard you will need to commit to a routine and be willing to make the extra effort when house-training your pup, as well as providing him with supervised outside exercise throughout his life.
Do you have a pool or a garden? If so, your pool will need secure fencing and you may want to do the same to your garden. This protects your garden from your dog because they often see gardens as a fun place to dig, dig, dig. Another important safety issue to note: Some plants are toxic to dogs—as are pesticides and other chemicals you may use on your lawn or garden.