What should you really know?

Know your Budget

One of the biggest commitments in dog ownership is the cost involved. There are monthly, annual, and less-frequent expenses such as quality food and treats, flea/tick and heart-worm preventatives, grooming, checkups, and vaccines. Not to mention all the things you need to purchase before you bring him/her into your home.

You will want to compare what you want to spend on the essentials for bringing your pup home and what you want to spend on the pup itself.


Prep your home

Getting your home ready to share with a dog isn’t quite as intense as getting ready for a baby. Quite. You’ll need some basics such as bowls, a collar, leash, toys, and a crate for potty training if you’re adopting a puppy. Although an older dog will still need just as much gear, he probably won’t outgrow it or tear it up while teething.

Train consistently

The first few days (or even months) at your home will be tough for your new pet. “A shelter setting is one of the most stressful things for a dog,” Miller says. He adds that it will take time for your new pet to relax into his new environment and to trust you as his caretaker. Be patient and practice positive reinforcement to teach your dog the house rules and how you expect him to behave. Develop a daily routine to make your dog more comfortable as he settles in. Consistency, stability, and predictability are the keys to keeping anxiety to a minimum during the early days.

Find a Veterinarian

One of McAuliffe’s top tips is to develop a relationship with a vet that both you and your dog trust and respect. Miller agrees finding a vet is of utmost importance. “When you get a new dog, go to the vet very soon after. The doctor can walk you through the vaccination schedule the dog will need, and the best flea/tick and heart-worm preventatives.

Be Ready for Setbacks

Let’s face it: Life happens. “At some point he will have an accident inside, or chew up your shoes or headphones, or get in the trash—it is all part of having a pet,” Miller says. “It’s a learning curve,” McAuliffe says, for both of you. He recommends The Association of Professional Dog Trainers for behavior support. Also, many shelters have free helplines and some vets are very well-versed in behavior should you have questions.

What will you need to start?