What to Know Before Getting a Dog

Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD
By Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD
Updated: 5/9/20242-4 minutes
A dog with a woman

Preparing for a New Dog

Do you want to get a new dog? Bringing a dog into your home is an exciting prospect, and one that should follow some thoughtful consideration.

Here are some things to consider before getting a new dog:

1. Think about the basic care and training you'll need to provide for your new dog

How can you prepare your home to be a comfortable and safe place for your new dog? What toys and supplies do you need? How much time will you need to set aside for training? It's good to be as informed as possible when getting a new dog to ensure a smooth transition and the chance to establish a healthy bond right away.

Check out our behavior and training articles to learn more.

2. Establish your family's roles

Did your kids beg for a dog and promise to do all the cleaning? While you should take this with a grain of salt, there's something for everyone in your family to do when it comes to pitching in. Just make sure that all family members have a clear understanding of their roles in the care-taking. 

3. Plan for costs

You're going to want to plan ahead and budget for all the care your dog will need, including visiting the veterinarian, taking training classes and paying for lodging while you travel. To get a sense of the financial resources you'll need, consult your veterinarian or local shelter.

4. Your lifestyle and environment

Did you know many of the reasons dogs are relinquished to shelters is because of their owners' living scenarios? Whether it's roommates, moving, landlords or just not having enough space, factors related to your living space may make having a dog more difficult than you originally thought. Make sure that you have enough space for a dog to lead a relatively active life, and the permission of everyone in your living space before bringing a dog into your home. If it's not the right time for you, don't worry - there will be plenty of dogs looking for homes when you do become ready.

5. Which dog is right for you?

A lot of people looking to adopt want to get the same breed of dog they had when they were kids, without realizing that their circumstances may be vastly different. They may have grown up in a large house with a backyard, and now live in a small apartment. There may have been lots of people around to take care of the dog, whereas now they may live alone and travel frequently. That's why it's worth thinking beyond breed and considering how a dog's size, activity level and personality will fit into your lifestyle. 

6. Where you'll find your new dog

Breeders and local shelters are just two of the many places where you can go to find the dog for you. If you’d like to get started, head to Petfinder to look for adoptable dogs in your area.

Adding a dog to your family is a big decision. We hope the information in this article helps you make an informed decision.

Related articles

Lifeguard dog
There is a lot we all can learn about our dogs. For example, that Newfoundland's were bred to be lifeguards! Read about this and more interesting facts about dogs.
Benefits of multiple pets
A dog and a kid
Person hugging dog

Your Best Furry Friend is Waiting

Browse loveable, adoptable pets in your area and add a furry friend to our family with Petfinder.