October is National Adopt-A-Dog Month. According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there are approximately 3.3 million dogs looking for homes throughout the United States each year. Out of this number, unfortunately only about half of these dogs are adopted. Could one of these dogs be your future furry family member? While adopting a dog can be an enriching life experience for both of you, it is important to thoroughly contemplate how your specific choice of dog might fit into your life. Maximizing the possibility for a successful match is crucial for preventing situations in which a family feels forced to either rehome the dog or to bring it to a shelter.
If you are thinking about adding a new dog to your family, here are a few thoughts to consider and questions to ask yourself…
1. Your Living Space
Do you live in an apartment? Do you have a backyard? Does your home have a lot of stairs? These are all good questions to ask yourself as some dog breeds have different needs when it comes to living spaces. For example, breeds with long backs and short legs, such as Corgis, can sometimes injure their backs by using the stairs. On the other hand, high energy breeds such as Australian Shepherds, thrive by having a backyard where they can run freely. By considering these items, you can ensure a successful fit for your home.
2. Other Family Members
Who lives with you? Do you have small children or other animals? Some shelters can provide a history of the dog, which can sometimes tell you whether that dog is good with children, cats, or even other dogs. Other places may allow you to have a trial period with a potential dog or allow you to take them overnight to see how they interact with your family. Further, some dog breeds do better with small children, cats or other animals. As cute as this dog might be, it is beneficial to make sure that not only are they a good dog for your family, but that your family is a good fit for this dog.
3. Your Finances
Adopting a dog is an ongoing expense. According to a recent survey conducted by OppLoans, the average American spends $139.80 per month on a dog. When first adopting, you can typically expect to pay an adoption fee for your animal. In addition to the adoption fee, it will be necessary to make initial purchases such as dog food, collars and leashes, dishes, and more, in order to get your canine settled into their new home. In addition, some expenses, such as food, grooming, and veterinary care, will be reoccurring, perhaps every month. After first adopting your dog, you can expect to spend roughly $300-$500 to cover the initial veterinarian visit, necessary immunizations, possible microchips, and spaying or neutering your dog, if you choose to do so. After your initial dog visit, you can expect to take your dog to the vet 1-2 times a year to ensure that they are healthy. The average vet visit can range anywhere from $70-$400, depending on the purpose of the visit and if there are any treatments involved. We also recommend doing genetic testing on a dog to identify any possible inherited health issues that may pop up in the future. By doing genetic testing, with a product like the Canine HealthCheck, you can anticipate medical problems and be prepared in the future. Is your wallet ready for this commitment?
4. Your Day-to-Day Life
If you are looking to adopt a puppy, it is also important to take into consideration what your daily schedule looks like as puppies require lots of attention and training. If your schedule does not allow a lot of time to spend with this new puppy, you may consider an older dog, who will give you just as much love with fewer training demands. Additionally, some dogs do well at home on their own, while others might have some separation anxiety. It is important to consider whether you will crate the dog while you are gone and if there will be opportunities for others to help let them outside during the day.
5. Commitment to Optimal Care
It is also important to think of other time commitments your new dog might require for optimal care such as walking, dental care, and grooming. Dog breeds were originally bred for different characteristics to suit various human lifestyles and work demands. Spending some time understanding the characteristics of certain breeds may prove invaluable in finding a great match. If you live more of a sedentary lifestyle or don’t have a lot of extra time, choosing a lap dog breed such as the Shih-Tzu might be a good option for you. On the other hand, if you like to stay active, a working breed such as a German Shepherd, might be a better fit as this breed is one of many that enjoys having a job to do and thrives with frequent exercise.
Grooming demands can vary significantly from dog to dog. Ideally, a dog’s teeth should be brushed once a day and dogs with medium to long hair should be brushed at least once or twice a week. Dog breeds with long hair, such as the Afghan Hound, require frequent grooming to maintain their beautiful coats. While dogs with thick undercoats, like the Australian Shepherd, may require extensive and frequent brushing to prevent matting, especially when they are shedding their winter coat.
Bringing a dog home is an emotional, a financial, and a time-intensive investment. While it can be a lot of work and a bit of an adjustment, there is nothing more rewarding than giving a dog a loving and happy home. In addition, by doing research and making careful considerations, dog lovers can improve the likelihood that their new dog will be an ideal fit for many years to come! From all of us here at Canine HealthCheck, we wish you luck in finding the perfect new furry family member!