10 Practical Things To Consider Before Adopting A Puppy

by Liza Larregui

In case you didn't know, March 23 is National Puppy Day.

Puppies are hard to resist when they are so small and cuddly. But before you go out to adopt or foster one, here are 10 things you should ask yourself:

10. What is the dog's temperament?

Depending on the size and breed of your puppy, you should always consider its temperament if there are children in your household. Though all dogs can be trained to be friendly and loving, some are genetically more feisty than others.

Is your child (or children) able to play with the puppy without accidentally hurting it?

Will your child be fearful of their bark? It can be a scary time for your new puppy when it's adapting to new digs. Make sure the child knows to be a little extra patient with his or her new buddy.

9. Who will be the main caretaker?

Everyone always start off saying he or she will be the one to walk the puppy, clean up the accidents and feed it. But after the initial excitement fades, these duties usually become more of a burden than fun new challenges.

Who is going to be the main caretaker? Is he or she ready for this responsibility and commitment? Caring for a puppy is a lot like caring for a child. Once you add it to your family, it will require permanent maintenance and love.

8. Are you are allergic?

Is anyone in your family allergic to animals? If so, adding a puppy to your home may not be something you want to do. Too often, puppies are left on the street after a family realizes a member is allergic, and they have nowhere else to place the puppy. It might be a good idea to hang out in the shelter for an hour or two before taking the plunge.

7. Are you ready for the long-term cost of caring for a puppy?

Food, toys and vet bills can add up and take a good chunk of your budget. Be prepared to spend at least $1,000 the first year of owning the puppy.

6. Are you not home most of the day?

Puppies and dogs need attention, and if your job keeps you busy outside the house, it could be a bad match. Puppies are not fish you feed once a day and go about your business; they are another member of your family. You wouldn't want to leave your child home alone all day, and you don't want to do that with your puppy, either.

5. Are you allowed to have a pet in your home?

If you own your home, chances are there are no restrictions. But for apartment dwellers, be sure to get approval from your landlord before bringing the puppy home. You don't want to be evicted for breaking your lease agreement.

4. Will you be able to discipline the puppy in a compassionate way?

Puppies can test the limits just like children. You need to show that you are their master, not the other way around. But in no way is hitting an animal OK. Before you adopt, do some research on training methods or visit your local pet store. Most stores have trainers there who can assist you.

3. Do you have someone to watch your dog when you need to travel?

Though hotels are becoming much more pet-friendly, there are still those that don't want any animals in its establishments. Can a friend or relative can take of the pup while you're away? If not, there are pet hotels that will keep your dog for a fee.

2. Do you have friendly neighbors?

A dog that doesn't stop barking can cause issues, especially in apartments where walls are thin and everything can be heard.

1. Though dogs tend to have a 10- to 15-year life span, how will you handle its death?

I know it's a tough thing to think about and almost impossible to consider, especially when they are young and healthy. But keep in mind that making this commitment means dealing with their eventual death. If you have small children, consider this before hopping on the puppy train.