“Adopt, don’t shop” is a popular tag on social media, with good reason.
There are millions of abandoned dogs in the U.S.
In Austin, for example, a no-kill policy means there are a good number of adoptable pets in the city’s shelters. That’s where pet parents like you come in.
Adopting a dog is one of the best things a pet owner can do for their new animal, but it also takes a bit of work.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of pointers on what to expect and how to plan for your fur baby’s arrival in your home.
1. What Age is Best For You
Should you adopt a puppy, adult, or senior dog?
Don’t choose a rescue dog based on emotions. Rather, consider your lifestyle, personality, and your ability to be an effective pet parent.
Puppies are adorable. One look at their innocent little faces and you’ll want to take them home to shower them with love furever.
But under all that cuteness lies a lot of work.
You’ll need to monitor, potty train, and socialize your new pup during the first few weeks. No doubt this will test your patience and commitment.
Think sleepless nights, potty accidents, chewed shoes, and heaps of energy. And if it’s a mixed-breed pup, that little ball of energy may grow up to be larger than you expected—with even shaggier fur!
If you want a dog that you can train from scratch and your toddlers can grow up with, then a puppy would be ideal.
If you’d rather skip all that and get a dog that has already been house-trained, consider an adult dog.
Although you will still need to supervise an older dog, they usually adjust quickly to new environments and so they won’t need as much of your time.
If you have a tight work schedule but would still like the company of a furry friend for your evening walks and weekend games, an adolescent dog would be most suitable.
And if you want a more mature furry friend with a predictable low energy level, a senior dog will do. However, consider potential vet bills as senior dogs need routine wellness check-ups and may have undiagnosed health problems which manifest in their old age.
Even so, you’ll enjoy the best of your canine friend as you give them a home in their golden years.
2. The Costs Can Add Up
Dogs aren’t cheap. The average American dog owner spends an average of $1,380 a year on basic expenses such as food, treats, toys, vet visits, and grooming.
Here’s a breakdown of the basic annual costs according to a 2020 survey by the APPA.
|Surgical Vet Visits||$426|
These costs vary depending on a dog’s breed, age, size, and medical conditions.
You’ll also need to consider the adoption fees. This ranges from $75–$150 depending on the dog type and the adoption center's requirements.
Most adoption centers in Austin include spay or neuter costs, microchips, and vaccinations in the adoption fees.
Pro tip: You can save some money by adopting from no-kill shelters in Austin. Most subsidize their adoption fees or even waive adoption costs altogether.
3. Prepare Your Family
You’ll need to get everyone on board and ready to welcome the new furry family member. Most shelters will require that all family members and/or roommates must meet and greet your potential pet prior to adopting. Here is where you can discuss and explain the responsibilities of owning a dog and what help you’ll be expecting from everyone.
It’s helpful to create a schedule and assign doggie duties to everyone. Outline tasks such as walking, cleaning, feeding, and exercising.
Also, teach your kids how to handle your dog to avoid triggering it.
4. Stock Up on Dog Supplies
There’s a whole list of things you could get for your new dog’s arrival that it’s easy to get carried away.
But first, here’s a checklist to make sure you have the essentials:
- Dog food and treats.
- Food and water bowls.
- Crate and dog bed.
- Leash and collar.
- Cleaning supplies such as sponges and brushes, pee pads, odor neutralizers, and non-toxic cleaners.
- Grooming supplies such as doggy shampoos, combs, nail clippers, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
You can find all of these at your Austin pet store.
5. How to Puppy-Proof Your Home
Start by identifying where the new pup will spend most of their time in the house.
Many people prefer to keep pets in the kitchen as they can keep their furniture and rags safe from being chewed on or potty accidents.
Now, get down to puppy-proofing the area and making it safe with these details:
- Put latches on doors and baby gates to prevent the dog from accessing areas you don’t want them to.
- Secure loose wires or electrical cords.
- Lock up harmful items such as household cleaners and medicines.
- Watch out for poisonous potted plants.
- Place fragile household items out of the dog’s reach.
- Keep your favorite shoes out of the pup’s way.
- Set up the crate and dog bed.
6. Give Your Dog the Best Pet Care
How will you care for your dog once it gets home?
Shelter dogs are prone to separation anxiety, and many dog owners find them withdrawn when they first bring them home.
But don’t worry, as your new dog settles in their new home and you get the gist, you’ll enjoy the tail wags and furry hugs.
With proper care and reassurance, your dog will adjust to their furever home.
Pro tip: Before taking the dog home, ask the adoption center for the dog’s milestones and feeding schedule. This will help you have a smooth transition.
Your adopted dog will be in an unfamiliar environment and so will crave familiarity.
It’s a good idea to follow the shelter’s menu for the first few days to give your dog some consistency.
Also, introducing new foods may cause stomach upsets, so avoid changing diets when potty training. Introduce new food gradually and create a healthy feeding schedule for your dog.
Feed your puppy at least three times a day and adult dogs at least twice. Also, ensure you refill the water bowl every morning and evening.
Start training your dog the moment you bring them home. By setting the ground rules and boundaries early, your fur baby will get used to a routine.
Introduce them to the potty area first. You can set an alarm every two hours to remind the pooch to go.
Enroll your pup into puppy training classes if possible. They’ll learn friendly behavior and socialization skills, potty training, and basic commands.
Pro tip: Reward your furry friend with praise and treats every time they get things right for faster training results.
Dogs need to exercise daily to stay happy and healthy.
Experts recommend between 30 minutes to two hours of physical activity.
Start slowly and observe your dog’s tolerance as you increase the exercises gradually. You can take long walks or play fetch in your backyard. Remember, your dog should be tired but not burnt-out.
Plan ahead and if you’re not available, engage your family members or a dog sitter to help.
Brush your furry friend, trim their nails, wash them often—and don’t forget their teeth.
Hold out for a few weeks before taking the dog to a groomer as they may be anxious over all the recent changes.
If you feel your pet is a little too unkempt, look for a professional groomer who handles shelter dogs with love and care.
New dog? We are here for you!
Remember that every dog is unique and even if you’ve raised a dog before, your new dog will have a totally different personality. So, welcome your new dog into your life with an open mind!
And don’t be afraid to ask for help. We are all dog people at Tomlinson’s and we enjoy helping dog owners hack pet parenting.