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9 Things to Consider Before Getting a Puppy

Four puppies in a pet bed.
Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock

Spending more time at home can make you want to add a new furry member to the family. Puppies certainly have an adorable appeal, but there are some key things to consider before you get one.

Dogs make wonderful, loyal pets, but you want to make sure you know what you’re getting into before you bring home a new puppy.

Do You Have Room for a Dog?

Consider how much space you have for a dog. If you live in a one-bedroom apartment with a roommate or significant other, you might not have room for a Great Dane. Smaller homes and apartments are often better-suited to smaller dogs.

You also want to consider how much space your puppy will have to run around. He might not need a ton of space at first, but a breed that’s used to getting lots of exercise will need space to run. For example, don’t get a herding dog if you won’t be able to keep her busy most of the day.

Puppies Eat (and Need) a Lot

A Welsh corgi puppy in a pen surrounded by toys.

Dogs eat a lot. Little dogs eat less than bigger dogs, but growing puppies of any size need puppy food. You want the best for your dog, so you’ll want to shop around for quality dog food, which can sometimes be costly. If your pooch has a dietary issue, he might need to be on a special diet, which can cost even more.

Aside from food, here’s a list of some other things you’ll need before you even pick up your new puppy:

  • A collar and leash (or harness)
  • A food and water dish
  • Treats
  • Toys (catered to the type of dog—tough breeds need tough toys)
  • A bed
  • Potty pads
  • A training crate
  • Plenty of paper towels

Veterinary Visits are Important (and Frequent!)

Start shopping around for a veterinary clinic before you pick up your puppy. Ask your friends where they take their pets. It’s vital for the health of your puppy that you take her to a reputable vet for regular checkups and vaccinations.

Vet visits aren’t cheap. Pet insurance is a thing, but it doesn’t usually cover routine visits. Do some research and calculate the cost of vaccinations and how often they’re needed. You’ll also need to consider the costs of spaying or neutering, routine visits, and emergency care.

Training Is a Must

All dogs need some training, and it should start when your pooch is a puppy. You can do a lot of it on your own, but lessons from professionals can be beneficial to both you and your dog. You’ll learn how to work with your puppy to bring out the best in her, including things like teaching her not to jump on people.

Training lessons also offer your pup a chance to socialize with other dogs and people. This allows him to get used to being around more than just you and your family. It makes for a gentler, more well-adjusted dog.

Exercise Is Critical

Do you have time to take your puppy for a walk every day? Having a large yard or fenced-in space for your pup to play and run around in is great, but they also need structured exercise.

A daily walk on top of a good play session will help your pupper wind down more quickly at night, and be less mischievous around the house. A puppy that’s burned up all his excess energy on a walk is less likely to chew up your favorite pair of shoes.

Walks don’t end with puppyhood, either, so you need to like to walk and have the time to do it. It will benefit both you and your dog.

Puppies, Like Babies, Are Kinda Gross

Dogs are messy. Puppies might not leave big piles of poop in your yard, but puppies grow into dogs. Be ready for the gross work of cleaning up poop, indoors and out. There’ll be plenty of accidents while you work on potty training (which is where those potty pads come in handy).

From rolls of toilet paper to your kid’s toys, puppies will chew up almost anything, so you’ll be cleaning up more than just potty accidents.

Should You Purchase or Adopt?

Buying a puppy from a breeder isn’t a bad thing. Yes, there are plenty of puppies in shelters looking for a good home, but you have to consider what you’re looking for.

If you simply want a companion, a shelter puppy is an excellent choice. If you’re looking for a show dog, you’ll have to buy a purebred dog from a reputable breeder. You don’t, however, want to get a puppy from a puppy mill.

At puppy mills, female dogs are bred too often, the puppies often aren’t well taken care of, and the conditions the animals live in are poor. The owners just want to make a buck, and don’t care much about the safety or health of the dogs they sell.

Adoption comes with just as many risks as buying a purebred animal from a breeder. While different breeds have issues with different illnesses, an adopted dog (even a puppy) might have psychological problems.

Make sure you visit with a pup for a bit before you bring him home, and be prepared to invest in some extra training if any issues arise. After all, you’re making a commitment when you bring a puppy into your home—returns shouldn’t be an option.

Consider Your Family

A father and daughter with their puppy at a pet store.

Your lifestyle, what you do for a living, and how many kids you have and their ages can all help you determine whether puppy ownership is right for you.

Are your children old enough to treat a puppy like a living creature, not a stuffed animal? Do you expect them to help care for the puppy? Is your family active and outside a lot? Do you like to travel?

If you don’t like to go outside much, your dog won’t get the exercise he needs to stay healthy. If you’re at work all the time, who’ll take your dog outside when he needs to go?

The ages of your children and your family’s lifestyle play a huge role in deciding which kind of dog you should get—or whether you should get one at all.

Why Do You Want a Puppy?

Lastly, consider why you want to add a puppy to your family. If it’s because the kids want one, are they old enough to take the responsibility seriously and help care for the dog? If not, you’ll end up doing all the work when they realize how much effort it takes to care for a dog.

If you want a show dog, be sure you look at purebreds from show lines. If you want a dog to help out on the farm, get a herding or other working breed. If you just want a pet, consider giving a mixed-breed shelter dog a happy home—they’re generally healthier!

Dogs are a joy, but they’re a lot of work—and puppies need even more care and consideration. Be sure to think about everything your furry new family member will require before you bring her home.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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