Dogs often fall into the low-maintenance pets category, but they do have some basic needs to consider. If you are excited about helping a dog find his or her forever home with you yet not sure you are ready for the added responsibility, take this easy challenge to see if the timing is right to adopt your next furry best friend.

Time Availability
The first thing to consider is if you have the right time available. For example, do you work long hours away from home or travel frequently? Will you be able to walk your dog at least twice per day? If the answer is yes to either question, that still does not necessarily mean a dog is not right for your household and lifestyle.

There are options available for walks, companionship, potty breaks, training time, and high praise rewards such as dog walkers, doggy daycare, and pet sitters. However, the main thing to remember is a dog should not be left alone for more than 4 to 6 hours at a time without a “hello” and potty break. Also, bonding and training time is important, which means you will need to carve at least 20 minutes for training together and an hour for play and relaxing together out of your schedule in order to form that loving bond of loyalty that earns dogs the title of “man’s best friend”.

Home Safety
Now that you know you have the time in your schedule to properly care for your dog along with the right services in place for those moments when you are away or working, it’s time to do a quick safety check around your home. Typically, younger dogs tend to need more attention and safety precautions than older dogs. It might be easier to think of younger dogs as toddlers. They are on the move and will put almost anything in their mouths until they have been taught through consistent training time with positive reinforcement which items are for chewing and eating and which items should be left alone.

But, did you know some older dogs are chewers too? This in no way should deter you from adopting an older dog. It simply means when you plan to bring a new dog into your home, you should pick up small objects, use loose-leash training around the home until your dog is comfortable with following the house rules, and have a plan in place for a safe space he or she can call his/her own.

Let’s talk for a brief moment about your dog’s safe space. We recommend a gated area for solo playtime activities and a crate for sleeping. Please keep in mind these areas are not intended for permanent dwellings throughout the day. Your dog will need human interaction and potty breaks every 4-6 hours in order to stay healthy and happy. That said, having a safe place to go when your dog is feeling anxious or while you are at work is a helpful way to make sure he/she is staying out of trouble and receiving the comforting security he/she needs to thrive.

Setting Expectations
Before you adopt a dog, it is critical to ask yourself why you want a dog and what you expect from your dog in your care. For instance, if you want a dog to run 5 miles per day, that will help you determine the personality, age, and physical requirements you will need. Then again, you will also need to commit to the exercise routine your dog requires in order to help him/her stay healthy, active, and, let’s face it, out of trouble. Definitely don’t forget training time for these joyful busybodies.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a lazy cuddle buddy that will watch movies with you, hang out by your chair at work, and let you read to him/her, you may want to search for adult dogs over 3 years of age with a reputation for being super chill. Whatever your expectations for behavior in your home and out on walks, it is helpful to prioritize them above looks and, to some extent, breed in your search for the right dog for your household and lifestyle.

Budget for Care Needs
After reviewing the above suggestions, if you believe you are ready to bring home a loving canine friend, the last box to check is your budget. Owning a dog does not have to cost a small fortune, but you should have reserves set aside for basic grooming, quality food, routine wellness visits at the vet, and some extra funds available in case of illness. Then, there are the toys, treats, safety requirements, and accessories. All of these expenses can add up quickly if you do not have a budget set aside for general pet care.

According to Money, your cost of owning a dog generally ranges from $1,000 to $1,400 per year and you can expect most dogs to live between 10 and 15 years. Keep in mind, this does not include a higher level of grooming fees or vet bills for chronic health conditions, extensive testing, medications, or advanced medical procedures. Therefore, there should be some padding set aside for such needs as your dog will be with you for many years to come.

Ready to Adopt in the Florida Area?
If you live near or are planning to visit the Volusia County area in Florida, visit our adoption page to view our adorable furry friends who are looking for their forever homes. We use a group of wonderful foster families to discover more about our dogs’ behavior, interests, and needs so you can feel good about finding the right match for you and your family. Plus, we update our listings frequently. Therefore, if your best friend is not posted yet, check back with us and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with adopting from our reputable non-profit organization.