Are you thinking of bringing a new pet into your home? Adopting a rescue animal is a very rewarding experience! It is also a commitment for the animal's lifetime, so making the right match is very important! Before you adopt, you need to ask yourself some important questions. You might also want to find out more about fostering before a permanent commitment is made.
Maturity: Are there benefits to an older animal? The answer is YES! Older, mature animals are usually more laid back and have been trained. You will know their size, look and personality. Often it is the mature animals that get overlooked in shelters but they are also some of the best companions that adjust quickly to new guardians.
Puppies: Are they right for you? Puppies are very cute but require full time care. They change rapidly and require patience, training and time plus they can be destructive while going through their chewing phase. They cannot be left alone for hours, this is detrimental to their development. Unless you are prepared for a major investment in time, a puppy may not be what you expect. In fact, unless you do put in that time you will be faced with behaviour issues that will worsen as time goes on especially for dogs.
Patience: Rescue animals need time to adjust. There are many wonderful, deserving animals waiting for a new loving home. These animals come from varying backgrounds. Some are well behaved and adjusted and others need some training and the right environment. Making the right match to your expectations and lifestyle is extremely important. This will avoid frustration for both of you. They are often confused and scared by a sudden change in their environment. Patience and understanding are important when adopting any animal but especially for rescue animals. Both you and your new dog need time to adjust to your new routine. Time and patience are key in a success transition.
Transition: Preparing your home is essential. All members of the household need to be involved in the new arrival. The whole family should have a role in selecting the new animal and in having a role in the in-home adjustment. You are bringing in a new member into the family.
Creating a safe and stable living environment is essential. Decide if there are any areas of the house that are off limits. Don't allow the dog to have access to the whole house and then later restrict them to only certain areas. Create an area that will be their space. Make sure it is warm, quiet and comfortable. Animals need to have a place to retreat and you may want them to stay in one area from time to time. A crate is a good option for dogs. They have a natural denning instinct and often like the enclosed space (with the door open).
Pet proofing your home like you would for a child will avoid accidents. Make sure poisonous plants and household products, pesticides, medication, and breakable items are out of reach. Secure electrical cords out of reach. You will also need to survey the yard to check for possible escape routes and other hazards. Prevention of accidents will protect your pets from injury and protect your household.
Consistency: A good relationship begins with clear communication. As well as love and attention, your new pet requires consistency when it comes to house rules and the command language used to communicate with your dog. If you are new to dogs it is absolutely imperative you go through a reputable dog training program. They will teach you and the dog clear expectations so that behaviour issues don't arise.
The number one reason people surrender animals is because they have problems with behaviour issues. Decide before the dog comes home whether the pet will be allowed on furniture or the bed. Don't allow behaviours you later decide are inappropriate once the dog has settled in. He won't understand after being allowed at the beginning. Also, everyone in the family must play by the same rules!
Here are some additional considerations before choosing a dog to adopt.
Impulse or commitment Many people like the idea of a pet But don't understand the changes the pet will make on their life. Pets are companions. They live with us and depend on us for all of their needs. This is a great responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly. The kind of relationship you build with your pet is dependent on the commitment you are willing to make.
Lifestyle changes Owning a pet will change your lifestyle. If you are planning on having an outdoor dog, think again. Dogs are social animals and crave the company of humans, their "pack." Leaving a dog exclusively outdoors will lead to behaviour issues and undermine the psychological well being of your dog. Isolation is unreasonable. Many people end up banishing a dog to the outside when they underestimate the time commitment to make sure their pet is well adjusted or the dog creates too much work for the guardians.
Time Different animals will require different amounts of your time . The amount of activity you do, the amount of time you are home, what to do when you go away are all factors to consider when choosing a pet. You need to provide a minimum of an hour a day of active play and walks for your dog. The more exercise they get the less likely they will become destructive in your home.
Cost The cost of pet care varies but expect the average dog to cost about $1000 per year. This doesn't include the initial one-time costs that include the adoption cost and basics such as leashes, toys and collars. All pets require an annual visit to the veterinarian. There will also be visits due to illness or accidents and preventative care (fleas, heartworm, vaccinations). Check out our estimates and see if this fits into your budget. Don't forget that unsupervised puppies and even adult dogs will inadvertently destroy items such as shoes, TV remote controls, books, couches and other people items. These aren't figured into our totals but we don't know anyone who hasn't had an unexpected replacement expense of some item.
A pet for the kids You will have problems in your household if you adopt a pet under the assumption he is for the kids to take care of to learn responsibility. Getting any pet must be a family decision and a family responsibility. For children to understand the routine of pet care and actively participate in the pet's care, wait until your kids are at least seven years old. Kids are also enthusiastic in the beginning but can tire quickly of the routine of pet care, especially the messy tasks like scooping poop. Remember, ultimately the parent is responsible for the pet. Consider the life span of the animal you choose as well. Are you willing to be responsible for the pet once your children leave home?
Timing If you are planning to move, going to school or are not home frequently, this may not be a good time. Pets need stability and routine to feel secure. Consider your future plans and evaluate if a pet will fit in with those plans. Getting a pet should never be a spur of the moment decision. Their life is dependent on you.
Space All members of the household should be in agreement of the pet you choose. Also if you are renting, make sure it is ok with your landlord. Do you have enough space for the pet you are considering? Most animals don't need a lot of room but some will require more than others. Surprisingly some breeds of large dogs don't need as much space as people think while many medium breeds need lots of space. It is the outdoor exercise and play area that are important.
Spaying and neutering are very important. Not only will it control the pet overpopulation problem but it helps prevent illness and behaviour problems.
Cleaning up after your pet is a necessary part of having a dog. No on likes to step in dog poop.
Grooming is also a part of having most pets. Clipping nails of dogs is a necessary part of the regular maintenance. Brushing animals with long hair is necessary to prevent tangles.
Dental care is also essential. Brushing your dog's teeth will prevent dental problems and improve his/her breath.