Things to Consider Before Getting a Dog

Financial Commitment

The cost of taking in a new dog and caring for him properly can be quite high. Some things you will pay for include licenses, veterinary care (including spaying or neutering and vaccinations), grooming, classes for training and obedience, toys, food and, sometimes, boarding.

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Time Commitment

Having a dog is like having another member of the family. Care, feeding, exercise: They require constant care and attention. You can't ignore them just because you're too busy or tired. Think about the things that already require your time. Do you have the time to commit to caring for a dog for its entire lifetime?

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The Family's Health

What kinds of health and safety issues could owning a dog cause? Are you or any of your family allergic to dogs? Do you have small children who have never been around a pet? These are critical factors that need to be determined before you adopt a dog.

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Where You Live

Is your living space too small to keep a large breed dog comfortably and safely? The kind of home you have can affect the size and breed of dog you choose. Is your home a house or an apartment? Some breeds are very active and need lots of exercise or attention. Do you have a backyard or local park? Neighbors?

It's easy to fall in love with a puppy or dog in an instant, but you have to be realistic about providing the right kind of environment for his health and happiness.

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Your Children

Getting a pet for a child is a common reason for adopting a dog. For some families, it's a rite of passage that teaches a child responsibility, care and love. Are your children really ready for such tasks? Take into account the ages of your children and at what point you should introduce them to the accountability that's required of a pet owner.

And, most important, think about how safe you feel leaving your small children with certain dog breeds. Your child may not know how to play with a dog properly. Child and dog will need to be gradually introduced before they can be left to enjoy each other's company.

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Local Pet Laws

Before adopting, make sure you know what kinds of pet laws exist in your community. Most will require licensing, vaccinations, leashes and identification. When you take your new dog or puppy to the veterinarian for the first time, ask what is required of a pet owner in your neighborhood.

Do you live in a rental community? It most likely has guidelines regarding pets. Some properties don't allow them at all. Check before you bring a pet home. It could save unnecessary heartache later.

With a little planning, you can choose the right dog for your home, family and lifestyle, and enjoy many happy years together.

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