How to Adopt the Right Dog for Your Family

How to Adopt the Right Dog for Your Family

The decision to adopt a dog into your family is a big one, so it’s not surprising that we’re often asked, “How do I know what dog is right for me?”

In an effort to make your decision a little easier, and to ensure a good fit, we’re offering the following advice on choosing the right dog for your family:

Tip #1 – Choose the Right Breed for Your Family

Research. Research. Research! You should never walk into a shelter without a plan. Don’t set a dog up for failure; ask yourself the important questions about what your family needs and expects in a pet, and be honest.

  • There are tons of cute puppies and dogs out there, but no matter how floppy their ears are or how big and sad their eyes are, it is important that you find a pet that will thrive in your family and fit with your lifestyle. If that fit is right, you are likely to enjoy the dog in turn.
  • Here are a few questions to get you started in deciding which breed is right for you:

Temperament: Are you looking for a more territorial breed, a submissive dog, a high-energy dog, or couch potato?  Consider the amount of (or lack of) energy you are willing to deal with.

  • Puppies, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and your general working-breed dogs will definitely need time reserved for play and activity or they will end up destroying your home and property. On the flipside, if you expect a bulldog to take your morning jog with you, you may have considered the wrong breed.

Size: The goal when choosing the right size dog for your family is to consider your environment. If you live in a household with children, a very large breed may not be appropriate, as one bad bite can cause some serious damage whereas a very small breed could be seriously injured by a child’s curiosity.

  • A small dog may be the perfect pet for an apartment dweller while a larger, more active breed would do well in a larger house with a fenced-in yard.

Time: How much time can you devote to the pet? If you are work all day, it would be wiser to consider a dog that is able to be left alone for an extended period of time, does not have urinary issues, or separation anxiety. A dog that has some previous behavioral training may also fit your lifestyle a little better.

  • Senior dogs and dogs with special needs may require more attention and time to devote to their care and puppies will require consistent training especially when housebreaking as they need to be taken out every few hours.

Grooming & Care: Some dogs with longer hair may require daily brushing. If you are unable to keep up with grooming, your dog could develop painful mattes and sores so be sure you are willing to either keep up with or take a dog with longer hair to a groomer to be brushed or shaved.

Tip #2 – Consider Your Finances

Dogs, like people, require care for their health and wellbeing, and all of that can add up quickly. Be sure that you understand and take into account the financial obligation that you are making when you adopt your pet.

  • Expenses don’t stop at the adoption fee. Some expenses include:
  • Food, bedding and toys
  • Preventative care (including vaccinations and parasite preventatives)
  • Replacing items that may be damaged by your pet
  • Grooming
  • Boarding
  • Veterinary expenses

As mentioned previously, senior dogs need more care and special attention than their younger, healthier counterparts (although that is not always the case). If you plan on adopting an older or special needs dog, you need to understand that there may be more medical issues which will require, at times, extensive veterinary medical treatment and multiple visits to your veterinarian, which can put a strain on your finances.

Puppies require quite a bit of investment initially, as it is usually recommended that they make monthly visits to the vet until around 15 weeks of age to ensure that they are developing properly. Puppies will also require a series of vaccinations to protect them from serious and sometimes fatal diseases as well as preventative medications.

Even if you adopt a perfectly healthy pet, they should visit the veterinarian at the time of adoption and every six months thereafter since dogs age around seven times faster than humans (that would be the equivalent of us visiting the doctor once every 3 years or so).

Pet insurance is a great safety net to cover unexpected expenses or even wellness care. We recommend a pet insurance policy that is percentage based with no pure-breed exclusions. We encourage you to research the different types of pet insurance and find one that is right for you

Tip #3 – Have the Pet Thoroughly Checked by Your Veterinarian

Even if the shelter has done an exam, it may have only been preliminary, so be sure to visit your veterinarian within a few days after adopting your pet. Your veterinarian can let you know if there other things your pet will needs such as heartworm medications and de-worming.

Tip #4 – Discuss Their Past With the Shelter Staff

Unfortunately, not every pet’s past is known; but talk to the staff at the shelter about any information they may have in regards to the dog’s previous history. Also question the staff on the pet’s behavior while at the shelter. Although behavior at the shelter may not reflect how the pet will act in your home, you may be able to get a glimpse into how your new potential pet handles stressful situations and any behavior issues that could arise.

If you have other pets in your household a proper meet and greet should be arranged. If possible, bring them to the shelter to meet your new addition before committing to the adoption. Many shelters will require you to bring your pets to meet before they approve your adoption.

If you are adopting a new pet, feel free to call us at the Berkeley Veterinary Center with any questions you have, or to set up your first veterinary appointment.