5 Responsibilities That Come With Adopting a Dog

Madelene Hissom · Oct 7, 2021

 Author: Janine DeVault

October is "Adopt a shelter dog month" and this month we raise awareness to all the dogs that are in desperate need for a new loving home. According to the ASPCA, over 3 million dogs end up in animal shelters each year, and of them, only 50% are adopted. The most common reason for pets being surrendered to shelters is “pet problems,” an umbrella term that encompasses everything from behavioral issues to health problems or unexpected physical traits. 

Adding a dog to your family is a big commitment and one that you should not take lightly. It’s easy to be seduced by a dog’s adorable furry face, but before you bring one home, you need to be sure that you’re equipped to care for them for the rest of their life. 

Before adopting a dog, it is important to think about how a dog will fit into your life. With this in mind, we’ve compiled some of the top things to think about before you adopt a dog so you can find a companion that can stay with you for the rest of their life. 

Do you think you’re ready for this commitment?

1. Training

Training goes far beyond sit and stay and is an essential part of converting your dog into a pleasant roommate. Training is a fantastic way to bond with your dog, and it helps you set healthy boundaries.

Teach your dog how to behave inside the home, whether that means staying off the furniture, not barking at the neighbors, or not scratching at the door. Your dog will also need potty training to ensure there are no accidents inside the house. Training is a long, ongoing process, but it is well worth the investment of time and energy!

Before you adopt a dog, consider what it will take to train them. Do you have the skills and experience to do this on your own? Do you have time to invest in working with your dog? If not, do you have the budget to hire a professional dog trainer? 

2. Exercise

Ensuring your dog gets sufficient exercise will keep them healthy and happy. Having an outlet for their energy will also help curb your dog’s destructive or mischievous tendencies, such as chewing on or barking at things they shouldn’t. Learn more about what dogs are chewing and how to redirect their chewing behavior here.

As you search for a canine companion, consider what type of energy level you can manage. For instance, Labradors are a breed beloved by many, but they also require a lot of exercise, especially when they’re young. No matter how much you may love this breed (or any other), if you can’t give them the exercise and stimulation they need, these dogs won’t be a good fit for your lifestyle.

3. Healthcare

Bringing home a dog means taking responsibility for their health and wellness. While some aspects of canine healthcare are predictable (many vaccinations are standard), issues could crop up unexpectedly. 

Your dog could sustain an unexpected injury, be diagnosed with an unexpected illness, or begin suffering from age-related afflictions. Whatever the case, you should have some money set aside to cover your dog’s medical expenses. Additionally, you should be prepared to adjust your schedule and lifestyle (even if only slightly), to accommodate your dog’s condition.  

You’ll never know exactly what could happen down the road, but you need to be ready to confront any problems that arise. 

4. Pet-related expenses

Caring for a dog comes with some expenses, but do you have a realistic idea of what they are? Before adopting a dog, think through all related costs and create a budget. There will likely be many expenses when you first bring your dog home and fewer in the following months. By the end of this exercise, you should have a clear idea of how much your dog will cost you each month. 

Some expenses to include in your budget might be:

  • Food and treats
  • Poop bags
  • Leashes, collars, etc
  • Crate, bed, food dishes, etc
  • Toys
  • Training expenses
  • Medical expenses (vaccinations, checkups, emergency fund)
  • Pet insurance
  • Dog walking or doggy daycare service
  • Pet deposit or pet rent (if you don’t own your home)
  • A dog license in your city
  • Grooming expenses 
  • Adoption fees

5. You must be accountable for your dog’s behavior 

When you have a dog, you must be prepared to be held accountable for their behavior. This means if your dog poops, you are expected to pick it up. If your dog misbehaves or disrupts someone else’s quality of life, you must be prepared to take responsibility and resolve the situation. This could mean investing in a dog trainer to curb your pet’s barking habit or fortifying your backyard fence, so your dog doesn’t escape. In extreme instances, it could mean paying for another pet owner’s medical expenses because your dog bit theirs. Whatever the case, you must be prepared to advocate for your dog while taking steps to ensure they are safe and stay out of trouble.

Dog ownership is a wonderful, rewarding experience, but it’s not without challenges. Ultimately, if you are prepared for this responsibility and choose the right dog for your lifestyle, you’ll have no problem fulfilling all the responsibilities of pet ownership and both you and your pup will live your happiest possible life!