Things to Consider Before Getting A Puppy or Dog

Consider Adopting or Fostering

First of all, its wonderful that you want to open your home up to a dog or puppy who needs one! Humane Societies and shelters are overcrowded with limited funding and volunteers. If an animal has been in the shelter for too long, they can be euthanized to make room for other dogs that need homes.

Many people are under the impression that these animals are broken, aggressive, or have something wrong with them to end up in the pound. As someone who has had many adopted pets, as well as experience volunteering in shelters and pounds, I can assure you these dogs are just as good as any other. Many of them are owners surrenders for various reasons, new kids, moving to a new home, or the dog is "too old." In an animal shelter, many of these dogs are just scared and lonely, waiting for their Forever Home.

Please consider adopting and never buy from a pet store or puppy mill. These places contribute to the mass euthanization of healthy animals in the US every day.

One more thing I'll add, would be to never buy someone as a gift or Christmas present. They may not be prepared to handle the responsibility, as is how guardianship over a living being should be treated.

Do Research On The Breed You Want

Since caring for a dog is a lifelong responsibility, you should decide whether certain breeds are right for you. Rottweilers and Dobermans can live 8 to 12 years, depending on the genetics and issues in their bloodline. They develop hip dysplasia and arthritis around 8 years of age. They are wonderful, sweet dogs, but require very strict and consistent discipline. Originally, they were trained as nanny and guard dogs so instinctively, they are protective of the home and need a job to do. Rottweilers and Dobermans are bred as working dogs, and like any other can become destructive if not given proper and consistent exercise.

Labradors are bred for hunting and retrieving, they love to swim and need a big yard or frequent trips to a park or lake where they can run until they tire out. Labs can also be quite noisy, sometimes they bark or howl during playtime and when given approval like saying "Good Boy."

Make 100% sure you are prepared to deal with this responsibility. Yes they're cute, but dogs and puppies especially require round the clock care, patience and discipline. They need to be let out to exercise, socialize, relieve themselves. They have to be fed and given consistent direction and training. This is why the breed characteristics and lifespan are important. If you want a lap dog, don't get yourself a Great Dane that needs long hours of running, playtime and attention. They also live a tragically short life of 6 years.

All dogs need adequate exercise, a cooped up and frustrated dog will become destructive and start to show behavioral problems. Burning off energy is the most important and effective way to calm your dog while also giving them obedience training. Don't leave them indoors in the kennel all day. Play fetch, take them to a dog park, go for a jog, find out what your dog activities your dog responds best to.

Veterinary Costs and Spay/Neutering

The initial cost of an animal can be quite expensive, roughly $200-$300 depending on the size and condition of the animal. Stray dogs and puppies can be infested with any number of parasites, Hookworms, Round Worms, Heart worm, Tapeworm, Fleas, etc. Treatment can cost you anywhere from $60 to $100.

"No Birth Is the First Step To No Kill."

The number one cause of healthy dogs and cats in the US is euthanasia. This is due to over breeding, and that is due to people not spaying and neutering their pets. This includes healthy puppies and kittens. Please do not neglect to do this, as it can save the lives of many while freeing up space in the foster facilities for other homeless pets. Fixing your dog can also lower their risk for certain cancers and diseases as well.

Chewing and Dental Hygiene

Like babies, puppies will grow through a teething stage for the first 6 to 8 months of their lives. Their baby teeth fall out, and adult teeth grow in. This can cause pain and discomfort and thus, they will teeth, chew, and mouth on anything that looks good. This behavior is natural for dogs and needs to be redirected rather than stopped.

Buy your puppy several toys to bite and play with, Kong is tough brand that you can get from any Petco or Petsmart. When your puppy goes after your shoes, clothes, electronics, wires, etc., take the item away, and tell them No! Replace it with a toy, don't buy toys that look like other animals or shoes. A puppy will not understand the difference.

Dogs also need to have their teeth brushed because of tartar buildup. You can do it yourself or take them to a groomer. Pet stores usually have some flavored toothpaste that is safe for them to swallow, and you can buy a regular toothbrush.

Never hit or intimidate a dog for chewing something, even though it is frustrating. Teach them with rewards and treats as positive motivation, and remind them that they are a Good Dog frequently. More than anything, your puppy wants to please you and looks to you for guidance and reassurance. They need to know their role in the pack.

Important Information

Video Is a Must Watch

The crate training video gives a very clear explanation of what a crate should look and feel like to your pet. I like to add blankets and toys, sometimes a shirt that has my scent so my pet is comforted.

Very Frequent Potty Breaks

Say goodbye to several hours of sleep and downtime. Puppies urinate frequently due to their growing and changing bodies, and need to be trained to get your attention rather than using the bathroom on your carpet.

In the beginning, your puppy will have some accidents. It is important to catch them in the act, as soon as the incident occurs you should immediately take them outside. Once outdoors, say "Go Potty". If you are consistent with this, your puppy should pick it up in about 1-2 weeks. An adult dog usually learns this behavior a lot faster, adults are able to make the connection very quickly.

In my experience, its best to take them out every 1-2 hours in the beginning. Dogs automatically want to sniff and relieve themselves as soon as they hit the grass, and like most other animals, they prefer to have their eating/sleeping areas separate from where they use the restroom. Be patient, they will learn. By 5 or 6 months they should have it down to every 3 to 5 hours. Stop feeding time and restrict water by 9 pm after they hit 6 months, they should only need to go once in the early morning, around 3 am. Then again, at least by 8 am.

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: If your dog is already potty trained, and is suddenly using the bathroom inside the house or won't get up to relieve themselves, you need to go to the vet IMMEDIATELY. When my dogs start to do this, it is because they are getting very old in age and are starting to experience hip pain. They didn't want to move or get up....this could mean it is his time to pass.

Crate Training

Crate training is vital for your growing puppy, for your safety and theirs. As I've stated above, puppies love and need to chew. Although it is important to be prepared to spend many hours supervising your new companion, it is understandable that you will eventually have to leave your home and he won't be able to accompany you. Crate training keeps your dog from roaming the house and chewing on things they shouldn't like shoes, wires, and pest poisons.

You could leave your puppy in your yard, but that is not a guarantee to his or her safety. They can dig through fences and be hit by a car, stolen, and any number of hazards. Once they grow old enough to follow commands, they can be trusted around the home. It does take time and patience, but they should learn after about 6-12 months.

Look into getting a MICROCHIP! Even if your dog is a well mannered, indoor pet, that doesn't protect them from natural disasters. Microchips have reunited people and their pets after 4 to 8 years of separation. It is an extremely useful tool and only $30 at any SNAP Clinic.

Obedience Training Through Youtube Video's

Obedience Training

Coming in second to exercise, obedience training is the most important thing you can give to your dog. A dog who is not wound up will be easier to teach and train versus a dog who has been inside a kennel all day. It shows them your status as Pack Leader, and that they must respect you. Teach your puppy not to jump on or mouth people and especially children. Incidents like this may be an accident, but your dog will be at risk for seizure and will more than likely be labeled as aggressive and killed. Sit, Stay, and Come should be the first commands you can teach your puppy. These commands can be easily taught with food and positive reinforcement.

Look for books,Youtube videos, and especially Cesar Milan materials, he is an expert with dog obedience training,

Ongoing Costs of A Dog

  • Food
  • Diseases
  • Heartworm Medication
  • Grooming/Hygiene

Checkup and Wellness Appointments

Just like people, dogs need checkup appointments with their vets. As dogs age, they will need some upkeep.

A Wellness Checkup should include:

  • Looking into the ears, to check for debris, infection, or wax buildup.
  • Checking the teeth for tartar buildup, rotting, cavities, deformities and infection.
  • Listening to the lungs and heart
  • Possible heartworm, tapeworm, and parasite testing. This usually costs extra, around $25.
  • Nail trimming, also usually about $10-$12 extra.


Even if your pet has nothing wrong at the end of the appointment, you should still do your best to take preventive measures. Heart Worm for example, can be prevented very easily through a monthly does that you can purchase through your vet or from 1-800-Pet-Meds. Once your dog has Heart Worm it can be difficult to treat.

Take your dog to the vet at least once or twice a year for a checkup. It can save you money, and your animals health.

How to Handle Old Age and Death

All living beings will die eventually, and your pet will too. Dogs have much shorter lifespans than humans, and unfortunately the goodbye is often too soon. When your puppy grows old, you should still love them and treat them the same as you did in the beginning. Never dump your dog for old age. Like humans, they want to die peacefully in the presence of those they have spent their years with. After a lifetime of being with your family, dying alone in cold pound would be an awful and terrifying experience for your loyal and loving friend. Please take this into consideration when your pet is elderly.

Although it is difficult, as an owner and guardian to your pet you must decide when the time is right. Your dog will usually let you know, he may pick a comfortable spot and not want to be moved or touched. At that point you can let them pass in your home, or take them to be euthanized at the vet. Usually the vet will give them an intrevenous shot that slowly stops their heartbeat and they gently drift off to sleep.

Whatever happens, comfort your dog in the end. Give them the best last day of their life and remind them they're loved. They are part of your family.

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norlawrence 3 months ago from California

Very good article. You have a lot of information here. I have had 2 rescue dogs and they both were abused and had problems but they were great dogs. One still is.

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