First, do your homework.
Examine your lifestyle and day-to-day routine to determine what type of dog would fit in well. Active owners prefer active dogs; couch potatoes will only frustrate, and be frustrated by, a high energy pooch.
How much time and interest do you have in grooming your pet? Some long-haired densely coated breeds require daily brushing, while many short haired dogs need only an occasional bath.
Where will you find your dog?
Adopting from a shelter or rescue is not only cost effective, it also offers a deserving pet a home rather than the prospect of languishing forever in a shelter, or being euthanized. Reputable shelters and rescue groups have certain criteria prospective owners must meet in order to adopt a dog.
The goal is to find forever homes for pets, and toward that end, these organizations invest time and energy in insuring each owner-dog match has the best chance of success.
When you bring your new four-legged family member home:
- Learn everything you can ahead of time about the dog’s background, for example, is she housebroken? Has she been around children? Cats? Other dogs?
- Be patient. Dogs in new homes need time to adjust.
- Enroll in a formal puppy or dog training class. This is a great way to get to know your dog and help him learn good canine manners.
- Crate train your new dog. Proceed with caution in case she’s had a bad experience in the past with crating or confinement. Make everything about the crate a positive, pleasant experience for your pup.
- Supervise a new dog every minute he’s not confined or crated until you’re comfortable with his behavior in your home and around all family members, including other pets.
- If you have other pets, get tips and advice from your vet or another knowledgeable source about how to introduce the new dog to the other non-human members of the family. It can be a challenge to successfully merge a new dog with existing pets, so don’t underestimate the importance of getting it right.