Before adopting a puppy or dog

Eight to ten million animals are abandoned to shelters every year, a quarter of them purebred dogs according to Humane Society estimates. Before you adopt a puppy or dog only to find out he’s not what you bargained for, ask yourself three simple questions.

Why do I want a dog?

Are you looking for a friend to jog or hike with? Do you want a dog to play with your children or protect your home? How about a fellow couch-potato to keep you company during your favorite shows? Whatever reason you have for wanting to adopt a dog, make sure it’s important to you. If you have a solid reason, you’ll be able to choose the dog that best matches your lifestyle and expectations. You’ll also avoid falling in love with the idea of owning a dog.

If you intend to adopt a puppy, keep in mind he’s going to spend most of his life as an adult. Think about what you want from him after his adorable looks fade away.

Is my home the right place for a dog?

Look around your house or apartment and think about your neighborhood. Is it a good place to raise a dog?

Do you like your home to be clean and orderly?

You’ll have to work extra hard to keep it that way after adopting a dog. Potty accidents, teeth marks on furniture and belongings, dog hair, drool, and flea infestations are all possibilities with a canine companion.

Is your apartment complex or neighborhood dog-friendly?

Before you adopt, check for restrictions on dog ownership such as bans on particular breeds or leash requirements. Also, look for a place to walk your dog if you don’t have a yard.

Do you plan to move soon or in the foreseeable future?

Your new home should meet a dog’s needs in the same way your current one does.

Is my lifestyle right for owning a dog?

Your home is the perfect place to raise a puppy and you have lots of great reasons to adopt one, but does your lifestyle make owning a dog practical? Think about your job, friends, family, and future plans to see if your life can accommodate a pet.

Do you travel often or work long hours?

Dogs, especially puppies, need regular feeding, exercise, and trips to the bathroom. If you’re not around to train and care for them, they can develop behavior problems.

Can someone take your dog if there’s an emergency?

Before you adopt a puppy or dog, ask family and friends if they would take him in if you need to leave unexpectedly.

Do you have children or plan to have any?

Children should be old enough to take responsibility for a pet. If not, plan to teach them how to interact with a dog in a polite, respectful manner.

Can you afford to adopt a puppy?

The cost of owning a dog for his lifetime is substantial, both financially and emotionally. Make sure you’re prepared for the investment.

Would you be a responsible dog owner?

Responsible owners have their dogs spayed or neutered, abide by licensing regulations and leash laws, provide necessary veterinary care, and obedience train their pets.

Adopt a dog for life

A dog has the potential to live more than 10 years, and during that time he’ll rely on you to fulfill his every need. This makes the decision to adopt a puppy or dog an important one. If you’re not sure you’re ready or you can’t seem to find the right dog, don’t be afraid to wait. It’s better to be confident with your choice than to have the promise of a new best friend turn into a painful trip to the animal shelter.