Adopting a dog.

Although spontaneous decisions to adopt a dog can turn out well, you should definitely put a great deal of thought into making the choice to bring a dog into your home. Many dogs end up being re-homed or surrendered to shelters because they simply didn’t fit in, or their owners couldn’t provide for them in all the necessary ways. We can stop this cycle by fully preparing for this life-changing experience. Dog ownership is an immense responsibility, and successful adoption hinges on readiness.

A Lifelong Commitment

When you open your home to a dog, no matter their breed or age, you make a promise to care for them for the rest of their life. Taking on this enormous responsibility has an impact on their health and well-being, but also ripples through your entire household. Dog ownership is not something to take on without fully understanding the gravity of the experience. 

Where to Start

To achieve the best outcome, prospective dog owners should spend time considering the following aspects of dog ownership:

  • Finances
  • Type of housing and square footage
  • Access to yard 
  • Safety limitations
  • Other animals in the home, children, and roommates
  • Long-term goals, such as relocation or life changes
  • Training requirements

There’s no question that dog ownership costs money. Owners must plan for yearly or bi-annual wellness exams, parasite prevention medication, spay/neuter surgery, microchip, vaccinations, and have a special fund set up for dental care and/or emergencies. 

The monthly cost of dog ownership ranges between $40 and $290 (depending on your dog’s breed, medical needs, and your lifestyle). It can be a lot for first time dog owners to tackle, and a realistic assessment of personal finances should precede any adoption.

Their New Home

Additionally, a dog’s new home must be absolutely safe for them. Apartments with a deck or balcony should never be accessed without supervision, window screens should be secured, and they should have enough space to feel comfortable. A fully fenced yard is always ideal, but if you’re able to walk your dog numerous times a day, they should be fine. Even if you adopt an adult or senior dog, you should still “puppy proof” your home by storing any possible hazards out of their reach. 

Your Lifestyle

When wondering if you might be ready for dog ownership, we encourage you to imagine what your future holds. You might have time now for training and enrichment opportunities, but what happens if you get a promotion and have to move to another state? Conversely, it’s possible that there isn’t a lot of extra time now for important bonding experiences, but you think things will open up after a major life change. 

The needs of a dog must be among your highest priorities. If you can’t make it work right now, hold off on adoption until you’re completely ready. In the meantime, you could volunteer at a shelter or sign up to foster a dog.

Dog Ownership

There are few life experiences greater than dog ownership. When the time’s right, all the necessary components will fall into place. If you need any help in your decision making, or want to ensure your dog has the best veterinary care, please call us at (703) 920-5300. Our staff at Arlington Animal Hospital can’t wait to meet you and your new dog!