When adopting a new dog for a busy family there are many points to consider.
You have a lot going on in your life, but you long for a furry friend to become part of the family, I completely understand.
But it’s not as simple as driving to the nearest adoption center and picking one out – there needs to be a little research involved.
Planning ahead is the single best piece of advice I can give you.
Adopting a New Dog for a Busy Family
According to the ASPCA, pet problems are the most common reason that owners rehomed their newly adopted dogs.
But a lot of this can be avoided by examining your family routine, picking the right breed, and understanding the commitment involved.
Questions To Ask Yourself
Do we have room for one more?
Don’t just assume that you can make it work – you have to know it.
Working long hours, spontaneous travel, and late nights… these things tend to go out the window with a new puppy.
In that way, it’s very much like having a new baby.
Patience is the key term here.
Don’t be afraid to delay the adoption for a few years, wait until the kids mature a little, or when things aren’t so crazy at work.
The extra delay will give you time to reflect and build a routine before your pup ever arrives.
Do I have the money?
Your dog is going to cost a lot.
Vet bills, quality dog food, pet insurance, toys, collars and leashes – it all adds up quickly and you’ll find your bank account shrinking.
Whatever you think your budget is, double it.
I don’t just know this from personal experience, but I worked as a Vet Technician in an emergency clinic for several years and saw it first hand.
Some dogs we saw on a weekly basis!
Whether it’s an ongoing health issue, or their Labrador ate another sock, I would hear the same from every owner: their dog ended up costing way more than expected.
Do I have the time and patience?
Life gets busy sometimes, I get that.
Unfortunately, a dog cannot be sidelined because you’ve had a long day and need to get the kids ready for practice.
Walks need to happen, cleaning up poop in the backyard can’t wait, and there’s balls of fur piling up underneath the couch.
Meanwhile, your pup is barking at every person or car driving by, and she left a wet surprise for you on the carpet.
Dog’s are more work than you’d expect, so ask yourself if you’re ready.
Picking The Right Breed
Don’t pick the cute breed, pick the one that suits your family.
It’s so easy to fall in love with your neighbors playful Rottweiler, or the girl at work who has that adorable Yorkie, but just because those dogs work for them doesn’t mean they’ll work for you.
If you take anything away from this article, know that picking the breed that suits your family is the most important choice you’ll make when adopting.
Researching breeds will make all the difference, and if you’ve got a busy lifestyle then take a look at some low maintenance dog breeds.
Important side note:
Some breeders and adoption centers can be slightly bias.
They’ll often tell you their dogs are great for families for one simple reason: they want you to take that dog home.
Do your own research at home beforehand.
Adopting With Small Children In Your Household
This advice goes against the grain a little, but my lifelong experience has taught me some important notes with dogs and small children.
You don’t know what kind of past aggression an adult dog may have, and mixing them with young children can lead to accidents.
Puppies will socialize and grow up with your children, and be comfortable in that environment.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t rescue an older dog.
Some centers will do a behavioral evaluation prior to adoption to give you a better idea of their mannerisms.
Again, this is where doing your homework pays off in the long run.
If you have a mature family or no children, adopting an adult has a lot of great benefits.
You bypass the messy first few years of training (and potty training), and you’ve given an older dog a second chance within a new home.
Measure Those Energy Levels
You introduce yourself to a cute pile of puppies, and that one pup emerges that immediately demands your attention.
She’s happily licking your face, tail wagging at mach 10, and putting on a show for you. Looks like you found the energetic one!
New adopters may believe this dog chose them to be their new owners, which is partly true.
Just know that high energy doesn’t go anywhere, and will most likely continue on for the rest of their lives.
Don’t have an active lifestyle for an energetic dog? Take a closer look at the more chilled out, lazy puppy off to the side. It’s all about picking the breed and dog that suits your lifestyle.
The First Year Is Messy
No matter what breed you get, know the first year gets hectic.
There’s obedience training, potty training, and building a routine, all while life is happening.
It gets better.
Sometimes it takes 3 months, sometimes 2 years, but eventually you and your dog sync up and things begin to run smoothly.
Training never stops, even when they’re an adult, but it does eventually pay off.
Preparing For Your Puppy
Get The Kids Involved
Your newly adopted dog isn’t just an addon, but an integrated member of your family.
You’ll sometimes need to sit down for family meetings and setup a routine around the dog.
Assign each of your children a task for the dog (feeding, brushing, cleaning up poop, etc…) and have the tasks rotate every week. It keeps the kids happy and the dog happy, and builds lifelong friendships.
Walking Is For Adults
Assign dog chores to the kids, but leave walking for the adults.
Training and socializing a dog outside the house is an important aspect of growth that should be handled by you.
Also, they’ll need a daily opportunity to run and really burn off all that nervous energy (there’s nothing more destructive than a dog that didn’t get her walk).
Walking is a big responsibility, but use it as an opportunity to show proper dog handling to your kids so as they mature they’ll be ready to handle it on their own.
Run a Tight Schedule
Dog’s love a routine, and they’re surprisingly adept at telling time.
If your dog knows they get a walk everyday at 6pm, they tend to calm down for the remainder of the day.
Keep a tight schedule for feeding and walks and they’ll fit right into your family.
Training Starts Day One – And Lasts A Lifetime
There’s a window of opportunity when your puppy’s brain is like a sponge – soaking in all the information of this new world.
This is the ideal time to train and socialize!
Keep in mind, there’s no finish line here – training is something you do everyday for their entire lives.
Pick A Quality Food
One last bit of important research is picking a quality dog food – they’re not all created equal.
Your typical shopping center dog food may be cheaper, but those low quality ingredients are going to cause health issues later on.
Learn to read the ingredients list, what food is suitable for your breed, and the different foods for growth stages.
Not to mention portion sizes to avoid obesity and malnutrition.
Lately there has been a surge of independent dog food retailers that specialize in healthy dog food, and it’s surprisingly not that much more expensive.
They can assist you in picking the right food for your breed and size.