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Everything You Need To Consider Before Adopting a Dog

by Helen
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13 Things To Consider Before Adopting A Dog

So you've decided to adopt a dog or cat pet.  Go, Team!  The best places to adopt a dog or cat are a pet rescue, animal shelter, or the dog pound.  Having pets can be fun to play with and can be excellent cuddling partners.  Will you adopt a rescue dog, or will you buy one?  There are many different breeds, sizes, and ages in pet rescue dogs up for adoption, sitting in shelters waiting to be adopted.  In short, pets, including dogs and cats, are lovely companions and even incredible support when we feel down, depressed, and anxious.

A dog can be an excellent addition to any home.  Still, whether you're an experienced pet parent or a first-time adopter, keeping your canine companion's health and happiness a top priority is essential.  Below are some valuable tips for all dog parents.  And remember: If you're pondering bringing home a new dog, please consider adopting your first option from a shelter.

A dog can be an excellent addition to any home.  Still, whether you're an experienced pet parent or a first-time adopter, keeping your canine companion's health and happiness a top priority is essential.  Below are some valuable tips for all dog parents.  And remember: If you're pondering bringing home a new dog, please consider adoption your first option.  Browse the directory of adoptable dogs in your area or visit our Find a Shelter page to start your search for adoptable dogs or visit our find a shelter page to begin your search. 

However, a dog or cat, or any pet for that matter, requires a multi-year commitment to care, including providing them safety, feeding and housing them, and ensuring they stay healthy.  Yep, there's a lot to know about caring for a pet.  So, let's prepare you to bring your new furry family member home.

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Pet Rescue

1) Adopt A Pet: Prepare Yourself and Your Family

Before you adopt a pet, consider fostering a dog or cat from one of your local shelters or pet rescue.  An excellent place to start is PetFinder, which makes it easy to find local pet shelters to find a new family member to adopt.  Plus, you will learn all about fostering.

One of the most important things to consider when considering pet adoption is what breed fits your family and lifestyle.  You must ask yourself and the people who live with you, family!  How will a new pet dog or cat fit into our lifestyle?

  • For example, are you active, spending much time outdoors, and want to bring your best furry bud?  So consider finding a dog that can take long hikes, sleep in a tent, hang out in a canoe without fear, and like being around other dogs.  Occasionally, you can train a cat to do these things, too, but it is less common!
  • Do you live in a small space, like a tiny apartment or house?  Having a smaller dog or cat breed to live with you may be more manageable.
  • Are you away from home all day?  Some breeds of dogs have separation anxiety, general anxiety, or stress out, especially those abandoned street dogs or in shelters.  The last thing you want is for your neighbors to tell you your dog is whining and barks all day while you are gone or for you to come home to torn-up baseboards and door frames, torn shoes or furniture, or stinky dog messes like peeing or pooing.
  • Do you prefer a lot of quiet time?  In that case, a cat, likely very independent, maybe the ideal new companion.  However, many dog breeds are fine hanging out with you on the couch or in their cozy bolster bed.  When you adopt a pet from a rescue, consider your lifestyle and how your new dog fits.
Adopt A Pet

2) Things I Wish I Knew Before Adopting A Dog

One way to look at it is how your new dog or cat fits into your life and what changes you must make to care for this new family member properly.

Below are some things to consider when considering adopting a new pet from a rescue:

  • Energy Level – your and your new pet
  • Size when finally fully grown
  • How are they with other dogs or cats and children
  • Noise level of the pet

Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for caring for your pet. If it's just you caring for your pup, ensure you are willing, able, and ready to handle everything yourself.

  • Who is responsible for feeding them?
  • Who will clean up after them, dog messes, including poop accidents?
  • Who will be checking in on them during the day?
  • Who will make sure they get plenty of daily exercise?

3) Feeding Times and Frequency for Your Dog

  • Puppies between eight to 12 weeks old need four daily meals.
  • Feed puppies between three to six months old three meals per day.
  • Feed puppies between six months to one year, two meals per day.
  • One daily meal is usually enough when your dog reaches his first birthday.
  • For some dogs, including larger canines or those prone to bloat, it's best to feed them two smaller meals.

Premium-quality dry food supplies a well-balanced diet for adult dogs and can be mixed with water, broth, or canned food. Although when giving snacks or food that is not their primary source, you can provide them with cottage cheese, cooked egg, or fruits and vegetables, these additions should not total more than ten percent of their daily food intake.

Puppies should be fed high-quality, brand-name puppy food – large breed puppy foods for large breeds. However, try limiting “people's food” because it can cause vitamin and mineral imbalances, bone and teeth problems, and may cause your pet to have very picky eating habits and obesity. Your pet should have access to fresh water and often wash their food and dishes.

4) Get to know them: Spend Time With The Potential Pet You Plan To Adopt Before You Bring Them Home.

Go to the breeder, pet rescue, or shelter and meet the dog or cat you intend to adopt. Although shelters can offer much information about the animals, it is not a replacement for spending time with them in person to get to know them. Take some time to go to the breeder or the shelter, play with the dog or cat you researched online, and make an appointment. It's also strongly suggested to ask the shelter or pet rescue staff about the dogs you are meeting, and they will be more knowledgeable about the personality and temperament as well as any history you should know.

Spending time with the pet you plan to adopt beforehand will allow you to see if he will warm up to you. Remember, this multi-year relationship will grow from this first meeting into a deep, loving bond between you and them. It's always worth ensuring it's a good fit for both of you.

5) Set Up An Area Just For Your Rescue Dog

Once you have found and decided on adopting a rescue dog, your new four-legged family member, the next step is to get ready to bring them home.  Since your home will be a foreign place, carve out space for them.

For a dog

  • Try setting up a crate that can become their quiet and safe space, including a bed, blanket, and toys.  A crate may not be their safest place if your doggy shows severe anxiety.  Talk with the shelter or your vet about it.  Addie, my American Shepherd-Aussie, has severe anxiety, and her vet advised me not to crate her because she could injure herself.

For a cat,

  • You can set up a small, enclosed area with their litter box and fresh litter, water and food, and perhaps a bed, even though they will likely consider any location they sleep as “their” bed.

Be sure to include something that smells familiar to them from the shelter or breeder to put into that space because it will help them relax in this strange new space you call your home.  Another option is to use a pheromone wall plug-in to help keep them calm while settling in.

Housing For Your Dog

 

Your pet needs a cozy, warm, quiet place to rest; be sure it is away from all drafts and off the floor.  Ideally, a training crate or dog bed is perfect, with a clean dog blanket or pillow laced inside.  Also, be sure to keep all of your dog's bedding clean and wash it often.  Ideally, you can find a washable dog bed or a dog bed with a removable cover.  If your dog will spend a lot of time outside, be sure she has access to plenty of shade and cool water, especially in Central Texas's hot weather, plus a warm, dry, covered shelter when it's cold.  Another thing that can come in handy is a washable dog mat where your pup can hang out.  One of the things many dogs enjoy is getting in a small kids' pool to cool down.  

6) Before You Adopt A Pet - Dog Proof Your Home

Pet proofing is temporary while introducing your new dog to your home or other pets.  Remember, puppies are notorious for chewing up anything they can access.  If you close them off to certain parts of your home, introduce them to these areas after they settle.

Put away cleaning supplies and any poisons that they cannot access.  Removing valuables and small items they can choke on or are too tempting to leave alone, like slippers, shoes, socks, eyeglasses, and anything that has your scent, is fair game for your new furry friend.  If you keep essential oil diffusers and oil bottles, put them high enough that your pup can't get to them.  Some essential oils are toxic to dogs and cats.

Training Your Pet

Buy them their doggy chew toys and catnip stuffies to chew on, and start training them to stay away from chewing and destroying your socks and shoes.

Never give your dog medication that a veterinarian has not prescribed.  Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for 24-hour animal poison information at (888) 426- 4435 if you suspect your pet has eaten a poisonous substance.

Chocolate Suede Bagel Dog Bed By Majestic Pet Products

7) What Are The Basic Things You Need When Adopting A Dog?

Many online pet stores offer essential pet supplies for dogs of all ages, from puppies to seniors.

Your new dog will likely come home with a starter doggy bag of food the shelter, pet rescue, or breeder has been feeding them; purchasing a small bag of the same food brand is a good idea.  If you plan to keep them on the same food, buy a big bag so you don't run out as quickly.  However, if you plan to transition them to a different food brand, buy a small bag of the food they eat now and gradually transition them to their new food.

Dog Supply Checklist

  • Premium-quality dog food and treats like dog biscuits
  • Food dish.
  • Water bowl.
  • Poop Scooper to clean up dog poop
  • Toys, toys, and more dog toys, including safe chew toys.  (no soft chew toys for heavy chewers)
  • Brush & comb for grooming, including flea comb.
  • Collar with license and ID tag.
  • Leash Or No Pull Dog Harness.
  • Carrier (for smaller dogs)
  • Dog Crate
  • Dog Beds, preferably machine-washable dog beds
  • CBD for Dogs or Cats (You may need it if your new pup suffers from anxiety or other health issues.)
READ NEXTBissell Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Handheld Vacuum Review (for upholstery, car, rugs, and hardwood floors)

How much exercise does a dog need a day?

Dogs need exercise to burn calories, stimulate their minds and metabolism, and stay healthy. Individual exercise needs vary based on your dog's breed or breed mix, age, sex, and health. For example, I have three working dog breeds: a Catahoula Leopard Dog, a Blue Heeler (American Heeler), and an Aussie. They are happy dogs, very active, and require mental and physical stimulation. Exercise also tends to help my dogs avoid getting bored, which can lead to destructive behaviors if they get bored. Boredom and separation anxiety are not a good mix. Supervised fun and games help your pet's instinctual urges to dig, chew, herd, retrieve, chase, and run.

Playing with your dog is a fun and effective way to bond with them. Not only does it provide physical exercise, but it also stimulates your dog's brain and improves their overall well-being. You can do many activities with your dog to strengthen your bond, such as playing fetch, tug-of-war, hide-and-seek, and even teaching them new tricks.

Older Chihuaha On Doggie Bed

Grooming Needs For your Adopted Dog

Help keep your dog clean, plus reduce shedding with frequent brushing.  If your dog is an indoor dog like mine, all that dog fur will end up on you, your furniture, and the floors.  During warm weather, you should check for fleas and ticks daily, weekly, if not more often, and be vigilant.  Most dogs only need baths a few times a year unless they get into the dirt like mine.  We recommend combing or cutting out all mats from the coat before bathing.  Rinse all soap from the coat and skin carefully, or the dirt will stick to the soap residue.  I like to use natural dog shampoo with a lavender scent.  Lavender is calming, and their coat smells fantastic.

Routine inspections of your dog for fleas and ticks during the warm seasons are essential, especially if you live in areas prone to flea and tick problems.  Use a flea comb to find and remove fleas.  There are several new methods of controlling fleas and ticks and speak to your veterinarian about your best options.  

Adopting A Dog: Licensing and Identification

Follow your local community licensing regulations.  Be sure to attach the license to your dog's collar, an ID tag, and an implanted microchip or tattoo, which can help ensure your dog's return if she becomes lost.

anxiety bed for dogs

8) Find a Local Veterinarian For Your Adopted Pet

Plan and schedule your dog's first visit right away. The pet rescue gives you all the vaccines they have received and when their next shots are due. Also, your pet should already be spayed or neutered unless they are a very young puppy. They should also be able to tell you of any known health issues. Choosing a vet is very personal, like choosing my doctor. I always read vet reviews before selecting a new dog hospital or clinic and judge myself based on my experience.

Think about the facility and the experience you expect for yourself and your furry pal. If you prefer a more prominent vet clinic with a more well-known name, you may find it easier to schedule an appointment, but you may not know the vet who will see your pet. If you are like me, you may prefer to make a relationship with one vet or find a smaller clinic nearby.

A second option is to ask friends, neighbors, and family what vets they like or use. If you are like me, pet parents, like human parents, have passionate views about the care their pets receive from family members and will likely give you honest reviews of their experience.

Sleeping Pup

9) If Your Considering Adopting A Dog Buy Them Pet Insurance

The average person likely spends between $300 and $400 per year on their dog's care.  Note that this doesn't include veterinary visits, which can add costs anywhere from $200 for a check-up to $5,000 for treatments and surgeries.  Here in Texas, vet visits get very expensive because we have to give our pets monthly heartworm medication and flea and tick medicines.  Although I haven't bought pet insurance, I save money monthly for those expenditures.

Further, Pet insurance is not widely used in the US, but it is an excellent way to lower the costs of caring for a pet.  Plans can range anywhere from approximately $10 per month – with less coverage to $80 monthly for a more comprehensive plan.  A primary benefit of pet insurance is to help pay for unforeseen illnesses or injuries, which can quickly become extremely expensive.  Investopedia and Consumer Advocates also offer significant comparisons of top pet insurance companies in the US.

10) Plan A Meet And Greet With Other Pets For Your Rescue Dog

Introducing your current pet to your new pet can be stressful, but it is crucial to your adoption and planning process.  Rather than overload you with this guide with how to guide this with both dogs and cats, we have curated the best information we could find for your situation.

Introduce a CAT to another CAT

  • Chewy has a comprehensive guide to introducing new cats to each other.  Learn more here.

Introduce a DOG to another DOG

  • PetMD has a host of vet-approved information for pet owners.  Learn more here.

Introduce a DOG to a CAT

  • Petco has a great resource library with excellent information.  Learn more here.
  • PetMD has an excellent resource for cats and meets dogs.  Learn more here
PetSmart Adoption In Your Area for Dogs And Cats:  Learn more here:

11) Find A Good Local Dog Trainer For Your Adopted Dog

Conventional knowledge suggests that dog training is more of training the people in the dog's life to communicate well with the dog.  This concept makes a lot of sense because the goal with a trainer is to help you understand what your new furry family member needs and wants and what it is trying to communicate with you.  Plus, when successful, it helps your pup know where they fit in the whole pecking order in your household.

One of my dogs is a Catahoula; she is a rescue.  When we adopted her, she was all over the place.  She didn't listen and tore up furniture, crates, beds, and anything she could get her mouth on.  We had to take her to dog training, and it was beneficial to understand her.  After the training, she listened and walked on a leash, and we learned she had severe separation anxiety and suffered severe trauma as a puppy.

Snake Avoidance Training For Dogs

If you live in an area with venomous snakes, your pet will benefit significantly from a snake avoidance training class.  My Catahoula Leopard Dog, the Belle, still suffers from anxiety and fears the dark, rain, cold, snow, and everything, but she is well-behaved and listens.  The training was expensive, but it was well worth it.  We lived in the country with rattlesnakes, copperheads, and the venomous coral snake.  Belle, Kallie, our blue heeler, and my rat terriers all attended snake avoidance training, which was very helpful.

We learned that training is an ongoing process even after classes end, and we are happy we started it after she left the pet rescue facility.  Like a kid continually testing boundaries, a dog allowed to run wild will ultimately know this is the norm and happily continue its behavior.
Another critical aspect of training is that it must include every human living in the house, including children, who must find a way to communicate with your dogs so they listen to them.  We are so happy with our pet rescue.

12) Owning A Dog Is A Big Responsibility

For a good reason, Millennials refer to dog ownership as training for children. Caring for another being, whether furry or human, is a multi-year, serious responsibility that requires constant learning and patience. The more you know, the better your life with your new pet will be.

13) Patience Is Your Best Friend With Your Pet Rescue

You will likely make many mistakes with your new dog or cat in your first days and weeks.  You are all adjusting to living in the same house and creating a new rhythm together.  If things go sideways, refer back to articles just like this one.  Ask your pet parent, friends, and family how they settled into a routine with their furry family.  And be patient with yourself.  You will find your way together.  One thing you take away from this article is that many homeless doggies are sitting in the rescue facilities waiting for their fur-ever home.

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