When 63.4 million households in the United States have a dog, it’s easy to see why they’re called man’s best friend! Your family isn’t gaining a pet — you’re adding a family member. Luckily, you have the opportunity to make sure your newest family member fits in perfectly with everyone else by carefully choosing it.
5 Things to Keep in Mind Before Picking a Puppy
When considering gaining a new furry family member, you shouldn’t choose based on cuteness — though that can be a deciding factor! You have various demographics to take into account to find the best possible puppy for your family.
Your pup’s breed will determine much about them. While most puppies are small, fluffy, and cute, they fill out and get larger. Your dog’s breed will determine how large he grows up to be and ultimately how much space he’ll require.
If you live in an apartment, you may opt for a dog from the “toy” group. But if you have a backyard with plenty of room to spare, one of the larger, fluffier breeds might fit your family better.
The Labrador Retriever holds the record of being the most popular dog breed in the United States for the last 30 years. When determining which breed of dog is best for your family, you should consider the age of your children and how responsible they are. A more patient dog breed would likely do better with younger children, whereas teenagers would do well with a dog who prefers adults.
Believe it or not, your family’s lifestyle might influence the gender of puppy you should get. Male puppies might be more territorial or have behavioral issues that would require patience and training to fix, but they seem to be more affectionate. In contrast, female puppies are distracted less easily but might end up more anxious.
If your family has a lot of free time, maybe you’d opt for an affectionate male puppy that you can take time to train, for example. Not every puppy fits these stereotypes, though!
You’re going to want to plan for grooming appointments or at least brush your dog regularly. Determining which dog breed is best for your family can help you understand what you should be expecting fur-wise, but even coats vary between individuals of the same breed.
For example, the word “collie” brings to mind a fluffy dog that herds sheep — but did you know that the fluff only applies to the “rough” Collie? A “smooth” Collie, in contrast, has shorter fur, but is the same kind of Collie you’re thinking of!
Planning out your budget is essential when adding another member of your family. As of 2020, you can expect to spend an average of about $1,200 total for one dog per year. This sum combines vet care, grooming, food, gifts, and so on.
If you’re worried about your puppy’s health or are getting a breed that can be prone to issues later in life, you might consider saving up an emergency fund for a “just in case” scenario. Pet insurance is becoming more common, too, and it might save you from ghastly expenses during an unexpected trip to the vet because your puppy ate something he wasn’t supposed to.
Your dog is a friend for life! Some dog breeds live longer than others, so consider how long the “lifelong commitment” is that you’re making to this puppy. Dogs love unconditionally, and this one will likely grow up with your kids.
Ensure you don’t plan on moving to a place that doesn’t allow dogs, and have the contact information of reputable sitters or doggy day cares. Your dog will want to be with you for her entire life!
What to Consider Before Bringing Your Puppy Home
After you’ve determined which kind of dog would be the best fit for your family, you should look at a few things in your house. Do you have dangerous areas puppy-proofed? Have you created a balanced schedule to guide your puppy as he gets used to his new surroundings?
- Sleeping Arrangements
Until your puppy is potty trained, it might be a good idea to let her sleep in a crate at night. You can put a crate bed or plenty of blankets, as well as a toy and some water, inside for your puppy’s comfort.
After your puppy is potty trained, where will he sleep? Will he be sleeping in your room, your child’s room, or in another room entirely? Planning out a “bedroom” for your puppy will help get him used to his schedule.
- Daily Duties
You must consider who will be responsible for the parts of puppy raising that aren’t so fun. Someone has to be responsible for feeding, training, and cleaning up after your puppy. If your child is old enough, maybe they can take over the feeding responsibilities and reinforce some training commands. While much of the responsibility may fall on you or your partner, you can still allow your kids to help out however they can.
Going on a walk every day can be fun if you make it so, but it can quickly become a chore if you don’t go into it with the right mindset. Consider taking walks as a family — doing so will allow your whole family to get some fresh air as well as delight your puppy!
- Introductions to Other Pets
If you have an idea of how any existing pets might respond to a newcomer in your home, follow your instinct and introduce them slowly. Your puppy is bound to be excited by the sight of another new friend, but your other pet might be less enthused. Try to allow them to meet in a low-stress environment, perhaps outside where there’s plenty of space.
Say Hello to Your New Family Member
Once you know which puppy would make a great addition to your family, ask her breeder if you can come to visit her. Introduce the puppy to your children. Meeting the puppy firsthand will give them the chance to understand that this event is real and that your family is about to grow.
As much as you prepare yourself, unexpected events will occur — that’s just part of being a parent! Picking out your perfect puppy will liven up your household and give you another family member to share your love with.