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How to tell if you’re ready to adopt a dog

Shelters and rescues are overwhelmed with animals who were abandoned or surrendered by their owners. Dogs are generally given up on at two points in their lives by their human adopters: during puppyhood from ages 18 months to three years; and during their senior years. Those two life stages happen to be the most difficult for dog parents to handle, so it’s all the more unfortunate that they just give up. Many people think that leaving a dog at a shelter is doing him a service, but in reality, most of those pets will end up euthanized.

shelter dog 2

Raising a puppy is hard. Caring for a senior dog is hard. In the end, the reward for each definitely outweighs the difficulties, but some people simply aren’t ready. In an ideal world, if you’re not ready for a dog, you don’t get a dog. Unfortunately, many people don’t even know that they’re not ready until it’s too late.

How to tell if you’re ready to adopt a dog

Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “no” to any of them, then unfortunately, you’re not quite ready for a dog. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, both you and the dog will be better off if this is something you realize now, rather than when going gets tough.

  • Are you willing to commit several hours each day to care for, walk and train your dog?
  • Are you willing to spend time and money on your pet as a priority in your life?
  • Is an exercise and training program for your young dog, which will require a commitment of several hours each day, including holidays and weekends, for at least three years, appealing to you?
  • When a major life event such as marriage, childbirth, moving, job opportunities, etc. occurs, will it be difficult for you to just “get rid of” the dog?
  • Dogs get injured and sick at various times throughout their lifespan of approximately 15 years. Are you able to afford basic veterinary and medical care for a dog for its entire life?
If you’ve answered “yes” to all of the questions above, then congratulations!  You’re ready to adopt a dog!
Dog in need of adoption

If you’re still not sure, remember that adopting a dog is a lifetime commitment

When considering dog adoption, remember that it’s a commitment for the lifetime of that pet.  If you adopt, you agree to take care of the dog for the rest of its life. This is not a temporary assignment.  If you envision yourself going through life changes that will cause you to “get rid of” the dog at some point, then owning a dog is not for you.  It’s that simple.

The majority of dogs in shelters right now are young males between the ages of 18 months and three years — the very time when they should be being socialized and trained.

But senior dogs may have it the hardest. Given up on when they are old, infirm and set in their ways, it can be extremely confusing for an elderly dog to suddenly be without its family and familiar, loving home.

Dogs with soldiers

Be prepared for the hard work, the expense, the huge challenges of dog parenting; and then be prepared for something else: the reward of unconditional love and experience that comes from sharing your life with a canine companion.

Don’t be “that guy”!  Adopt a pet for life.  If you can’t make that commitment, consider volunteering, fostering, or dog-sitting as an alternative.  That way you get the joys of canine companionship, without the huge commitment.

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