Adopting your first family dog is very heartwarming but also can be a bit of a challenge.
If you are familiar with the saying “dogs are like family,” you must know, it rings true. Introducing a four-legged friend to your family (especially kids) promises a lifetime of exciting adventures—but adopting your first family dog also comes with occasionally overwhelming responsibilities.
Adopting a dog for the first time is both nerve-wracking and rewarding. If you have never cared for a canine companion, below are a few things you should know.
Even if you are adopting a dog from a family friend or shelter for free, doing so will eventually cost you in the future. Ultimately, dogs are an investment, and you should ask yourself the following questions before you make a decision.
Related: 5 Top Reasons to Adopt a Pet
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting Your First Dog
Take your time and think clearly of your intentions. Many people adopt a dog for the first time, only to give it up because they can not handle it. Don’t let this be you.
- How much time and effort can I dedicate? Dogs require daily walking and lots of attention. Dogs can develop separation anxiety and destructive behaviors if you are frequently away from home.
- How much space do I have? While some dogs are accustomed to apartment living, larger breeds such as German Shepherds or Golden Retrievers may not fare well in limited square footage.
- Who will also be living with my dog? If you reside in a multi-person household, everyone involved has to be on board with your decision. Otherwise, adopting a dog could create tension.
Supplies You’ll Need
Getting your supplies in order beforehand will make for an easy transition if you’ve decided to commit to adoption. On another note—congratulations! Below are a few items you should have in your animal arsenal before taking your new dog home.
- Food: Some dog food brands carry breed-specific kibble or provide options for special dietary needs. Incorporate a diet that is ideal for your dog’s size, age, and activity levels. You will need at least two bowls for food and water.
- Grooming Supplies: Basics such as a brush, nail clippers, and shampoo will typically suffice, with occasional trips to a professional groomer in between.
- Identification: Some states require microchipping. If yours doesn’t, opting for this type of identification can help you keep track of your dog’s vaccination history and easily distinguish them in case they go missing.
- Bed: Providing your dog with a space to call their own can help ease the transition period and improve their sleeping habits.
- Crate: If you plan to travel with your dog, purchasing an airline-approved carrier can make it easier to take your pet places.
- Toys: Dogs require entertainment as much as they need exercise. Providing a modest collection of toys keeps them stimulated while you do daily chores.
Seeing the Vet
One important aspect of dog ownership potential pet parents can’t overlook is veterinary care. The right veterinarian will:
- Recommend a diet appropriate to your dog and its specific dietary needs
- Keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date
- Become familiar with your dog’s medical history and provide relevant care tips
- Treat and medicate your dog in case of illness
While you might be a responsible pet owner, veterinary care is essential to keeping your dog healthy and in excellent shape, even as they age.
The Bottom Line
Adopting your first family dog or even your second is just as hard work as it is a joyous and welcome change. If you are financially and emotionally prepared for one, incorporating one into your family is a blessing!
About the Author
Mike is the owner of Dog Embassy and a self-proclaimed pet lover. He provides accessible resources on pet care and nutrition.