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So, you’re thinking about making a little canine addition to the family. This is an exciting decision, but it’s also a big one. Like having a child, adopting a dog is a delight but also a huge responsibility and financial burden. You need to make sure that you’ll have the resources, time, energy and lifestyle to make this adoption beneficial for you and the little guy you want to give a home. There are some important things to do and consider before you make the final decision to even adopt in the first place.

Evaluate your living space

Before anything else, consider the space you live in. Do you live in a tiny city apartment on the 20th floor of your building, more than five blocks away from the nearest chunk of grass? Maybe now isn’t the best time to get a dog for its own well-being. Dogs need outside time and it’s going to be hard to get your pup all the way downstairs in time for her to learn that she needs to pee outside. Puppies also have a lot of energy and grow fast. Your tiny husky might be okay in a little apartment now, but they’ll outgrow the space within a matter of months.

Ideally, your living space would have a yard that they can play around in, a door that leads directly to the outside (for training purposes) and open spaces or a dog park nearby. Raising a pup in an apartment isn’t impossible, but it can be difficult for both you and Spot.

How active is your lifestyle?

If you’re a fairly active person who is good with going for walks or runs every day to tire the little guy out and keep him active, then you’re probably fine getting a pretty active dog. If you have kids, they’ll love an active dog to run around and play fetch with. If you have trouble with mobility or you’re just not that active, you’re going to need to make sure that the dog you get doesn’t need a whole lot of activity. There are dogs out there for you, but you need to know who they are.

Is your daily routine realistic for a dog?

Does your family’s routine have everyone out of the house all day long? If you’re going to be out for more than a few hours at a time, training pupper might prove to be pretty difficult. When dogs are young, they need to eat more frequently and have tiny bladders so they need to go out more often (plus, you need them to learn that it’s not okay to do that in the house). If no one is able to stay home with the new dog or come home every few hours to feed them and let them out, now might not be the best time to adopt.

Connect with a vet first

Pet experts suggest connecting with a local vet before you adopt to ask any questions you might have and make sure you have a go-to contact if trouble arises. Your vet is going to be the first person you call if you’re unsure about behaviour, sickness, growth or mood. Connect early.

Have you considered all the expenses?

There are a lot of initial costs to adopting a pet, then there are monthly costs and, should the worst happen, there may be emergencies that set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars. You need to make sure that you have the finances to pay for food, treats, toys, medical care, vaccines and possibly getting them spayed or neutered. You also need to make sure that you are financially stable enough that emergency care won’t bankrupt you.

Are you going to enroll in training classes?

Another cost that might crop up is training. Experts suggest, especially for first-time pet owners, enrolling in professional classes. At training classes, you and your pup will not only learn commands together, they will be able to socialize with other dogs and learn how to behave in a controlled environment. Training is something that you might want professional help on so that it sticks and your puppy is one of the ones people tell their friends about. “That dog is so well behaved, I don’t know how she does it!”

How are you going to socialize your pup?

While your love is certainly key to your dog’s happiness, they are also going to need to interact with other canines at some point. Do you have friends with dogs that you can set up on a playdate or walk together? Is there a dog park nearby where your pup (and you) can meet new friends? Socialization is important so that when your dog sees another one of its kind on the street, they know how to approach them and then either respect their space or play gently.

Keep in mind, it’s going to be tough

Even if your lifestyle, living situation and activity level is perfect for the dog you adopt, training and adding another member to the family is going to be tough. Yes, they are going to eat your things, pee in the house, nip at people, ignore your commands and do another 101 things you don’t want them to. That’s normal, especially at the beginning, but patience is key. Be firm with the training, show them that you’re the alpha and have patience with the whole process. You need to keep in mind (and warn your kids) going into this that there are going to be great times, and there are going to be bad times, but that doesn’t mean that you give up on them.

Have an idea of what kind of dog you’re looking for

Once you’ve made your decision and you’re going to a pound to adopt a puppy, have an idea of the breed you want, but also be flexible. You need to have a clear picture of temperament and size in mind because you’re going to fall in love with every puppy you come across (sorry, you can’t have them all). You need to be flexible too, because if you’re not buying from a breeder, you don’t know what kind of dogs are going to be available.

Know where to seek help when you need it

When you go to adopt, your area SPCA will answer all the questions you have (and some that you don’t) during the entire process. You can also go to their website for information about the adoption process, tips on how to adopt and more things to consider.

Your vet is also a resource you should utilize whenever necessary. If you’re ever unsure about how your pet is acting or if you need help when they’re sick, don’t hesitate to call them or a veterinary clinic.

Good luck with your decision!