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10 Things You Should Know Before Getting A Dog

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Before bringing a new puppy or dog into your home, it's important to consider the following:

  1. Owning a dog is a lifetime commitment. Animals develop deep bonds with you and your family. Any change in ownership can be extremely traumatic, so you should be prepared for the responsibility involved in dog ownership. Dog owners need to be able to provide shelter, food, water, medical care, and love and attention.
  2. Owning a dog is also a considerable financial commitment. The average care for one dog, which includes food, supplies, and basic medical care, averages $800 - $1,000 a year. Emergency care can range from $250 to $5,000.
  3. Before you take your new dog home, make sure you have all the basic supplies. These include a collar, ID tag and rabies tag (you should be able to put two fingers between the collar and the dogs neck, and the leash should be four to six feet long), food and water bowls (steel, glass, or ceramic preferred), a comfortable dog bed, and toys.
  4. Find a good vet. WebVet can help you find a vet in your area, and our Vet Finder includes more than 30,000 veterinary hospitals across North America. 
  5. "Dog-proof" your home. Be sure to keep anything that may be toxic to your pet out of the reach. Key things to look out for are poisonous plants, plastic bags, and cleaners. The ASPCA Poison Control Hotline is a good resource for more information (888-426-4435).
  6. Puppies require house training as they will not automatically know that the yard, not the house, is the appropriate place to eliminate. It’s the responsibility of the owner to house train the dog. This requires time, lots of patience and a consistent and dedicated regimen.
  7. Socialize your dog early on. By exposing your dog to various people and environments, it will become a more stable, happy, and confident animal. Be sure to continue socialization beyond the puppy years. Socialization reduces the likelihood that your dog could become fearful or aggressive toward other people and animals.
  8. Groom your dog, making sure to ease into a grooming routine. Begin with shorter sessions, and gradually increase to the normal grooming session. Be sure that whoever is grooming the dog pets it frequently, and that your dog is rewarded in the end. Your dog’s nails should not touch the ground, and your dog should be brushed regularly. This will prevent tangles and reduce the risk of skin irritation. Your vet can help you plan an appropriate grooming schedule for your particular dog, depending on breed and hair type.
  9. Brush your dog’s teeth in order to prevent dental diseases. Three to five times a week is recommended, and your vet can give you a lesson as well as recommend an appropriate toothbrush and paste.
  10. Above all, make sure that a dog, particularly the right dog, is a wise decision for you, your family and your living situation.
Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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