Kritter Keeper Mel Nasser took to her computer to tackle suggestions to anyone thinking about getting a new dog. Not only has Mel been a Kritter Keeper for the last two years but she has also been a senior volunteer for Mostly Mutts Pet Adoption and Rescue in Kennesaw, GA. Since opening Kritter Keepers Club in September 2017, Mel has taken on the role of Director of Club Activities and works with the dogs in our daycare!
You have decided to take that huge next step by deciding to add to your family or to start one with a new furry companion. Congratulations! There is not a thing in the world quite like finding your new best friend, companion, and a fuzzy side kick.
But before you take a step outside to go running to the nearest animal shelter – there is some much needed research and thinking to be done. All of the questions that the rescues ask on the application are not just for show; they are to see what kind of lifestyle you live, and to make sure the new dog will be perfect for you and you will be perfect for them. Also remember the profiles are there to help you choose and see how your potential best friend ticks. There are a lot of great dogs that need homes in your local rescue, even pure breeds, but for those choosing dogs from a breeder, less of a profile is a must!
Dogs are a lifetime commitment – can you handle this for the next 12-15 years?
Now that your brain is engaged thinking about different aspects of your life as well as learning about dogs, it is time to think more about your life.
- Where do you live? Who is going to be taking care of the dog? If you live in an apartment or a town house it may not be the best idea to get a very talkative dog or a dog that requires excess amounts of energy; unless you plan to regularly exercise it by taking it to the park, hiking or long walks daily. If you are renting make sure to know the policies about the policies on owning a dog. If they require a deposit or a monthly fee for dogs, up to what size of dogs do they allow? Do they only allow certain breeds? It is vital to make sure you are able to compensate for the extra fees if they exist and make sure you can bring home the puppy/ dog you set your heart on. The next part is to think who will be the primary care for the dog? Will it be the young child who cannot handle a hyper energy 80+ pound dog who has to be walked because there is no yard? If it is it might be the best idea to look into a different dog.
- Who will the dog be for? This continues with the thought of who will be taking care of the dog. If it is going to be a dog for the family, it is going to be idea that every member is on board so the dog gets proper care and will be happy with his/her home life.
- Do you frequently move? It sounds almost silly, but if you frequently move, make sure to accommodate to include new best friend. It is a lifelong commitment to the dog that you will be his/her ‘furever’ home.
- Who works in the home and for how long? If all the people in household work 8+ hour days and cannot be home during the day, it might not be the best idea to get a brand new puppy that has to go out frequently, or an older dog who can no longer hold it for more than a couple hours at a time. However this is subject to change if there will be a pet sitter/ neighbor/ friend who will come during the day to let the dog out/ take care of it or if someone can come home for lunch to do the same as a pet sitter would.
- What does your yard look like? Is it fenced in? How high is the fence? If it is unfenced it is again the commitment to walk the dog and to think who will be the primary one who is letting the dog out. If you have a fenced in yard, what kind is it, and how high? If you are looking at a dog who is taller than your fence that will jump it or who can walk through the openings in the fence you might want to reconsider your new potential dog unless you are willing to walk it in the yard on a leash.
- Do you own any other pets; dogs, cats, small animals (e.g. rabbits, mice, birds…)?Keep this in consideration when looking at dogs. If it is not other dog friendly it might be best not to bring it home. The same logic can be allied to cats. It can also be applied to small animals unless the dog will not be able to access/ see the small animal at any time.
- The next thing to consider is veterinary care as well as financial ability. If you are already this far should have already considered the financial aspect about your furry companion. You want to give your new addition the best life you can possibly afford. All dogs require yearly check-ups. Check with your local veterinarian for pricing. Consult with your local vet about heartworm as well. They are passed from mosquito bites and most places (though I recommend all dogs receive heart worm prevention; it just takes one mosquito bite to infect your dog) strongly recommend heart worm prevention which is an added cost. Also consider possible tick/ flea prevention. Be sure to also add in the cost of food*, any collars and leashes he/she will need as long as possible bedding, crates, treats, toys, and bowls. Those items are just a general list. Some dogs will require more, some a little less. While assessing these costs also keep in mind some dogs require certain foods due to health reasons as well as medicine or frequent vet visits. All dogs deserve a nice loving home, but if you have a lower budget, a dog with less health complications might be a better fit.
- What about when you travel? Do not forget this dog will live with you year-round so you need to think a little bit ahead when you decide to go on a trip or vacation. The good news is that there are multiple options on what to do to help you pick the best option so that your pet will be properly taken care of.
- You can book a trip with your furry little side kick. There is a lot of hotels, campsites and various other vacations that are dog-friendly. You know your dog best so consider adding him/her if it would be the perfect fit. It can add to the experience and make you and your pet closer and enjoy your time off more- together.
- Have a family/friend/neighbor take care of your house and dog. You could be surprised what the people close to you will do for you if you simply ask!
- Pet sitters exist for this reason! Check with your local pet sitting companies, but most offer daily visits, or over night packages where your pet sitter will stay with them at your house so they will not have any anxiety at a new place plus constant companionship! Your house will also occupied and many will bring in your mail as well! It is even less stress for you to worry about regarding your pet and house. Win-win.
- In (Their) Home Pet Sitting. Certain pet sitters will offer in their home boarding/pet sitting if you would rather use that option. The good ones will even let them have free roam of the house if it is possible! Of course again check with your local in (their) home pet sitters/ boarders. Also know that they will have certain criteria to make sure your fuzzy buddy will be happier in their home.
- There exists such a thing as dog boarding businesses (sometimes merged with doggy day-cares). Also a lot of vet offices also do boarding. Be sure to check with your local places to check their criteria as well as producers for handling boarding dogs.
- When your pet is living at your house it is a good idea to think where it will live during the day/ night. Some dogs have free roam in their homes, some have their own room, and some need crates for when they are not properly supervised. Keep in mind dogs should NOT live constantly in crates. They are part of the family too!
- What is your activity level? This goes back to the question of who will be the one primarily taking care of the dog. What is your life style? Is your idea of free time hiking up a mountain or sitting on the couch bingeing your favorite t.v. show? Make sure to read the profile of each dog you are considering carefully or do that research into breeds or both! At a rescue the volunteers/workers are there to help you decide what kind of dog would be good for you. If you are unsure, just ask! Breeders generally have a lot of knowledge about the types of dogs they raise and have a lot of experience with that particular breed so they are a good resource as well. If you are a hiking/outdoorsy fool and want a dog to take with you, look into a higher energy – on the go buddy as opposed to a dog that just wants to snuggle on the couch. Make sure to keep your activity level in mind AS WELL AS what you would like your new dog to be and be ready to accommodate as needed.
- The perfect dog may exist, but even a perfect dog could learn a new trick or two or use some brushing up on training. There is needed research for that too. Dog trainers are out there at your disposal as well as training classes taught at local pet stores / some vets and some doggy day cares/ boarding facilities. The internet also has a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips! Be mindful about what good information is and what is bad. Remember teach-; don’t punish! If you are not sure about information online you can always go back and ask the dog trainers. It is their job to help you and it can be confusing if you do not know!
- Last but certainly not least is knowing what your back plan is. Just like parents make emergency back up plans for their children that they hope to never use, there should be one for your pet too. Sometimes life can be awful and unpredictable and cruel, when such a thing happens you should know where your dog will go. Animal shelters are filled with animals that the previous owners did not plan for such a thing to happen. Back up plans offer a peace of mind knowing that no matter what happens- your dog will be loved and cared for. If you go through a period where you are financially strapped, many local communities offer low-cost yearly vaccinations. Also depending where they live there are also organizations out there that sell food at a low price or give some out for those in times of need.
Now you have it! The basics of what to do in order to build a loving dog-filled home. There will always be questions and stops along the way but this is a great, essential start!
Soon you can indulge in one of best treasures in life!
Move forward and love dogs!