Dogs are called “man’s best friend” for a reason. They are often the first ones to greet you after a long day and the last ones to think that you could possibly have any flaws. But before rushing out to pick up a new furry companion, there are some important things to consider. From finding a kid-friendly canine to budgeting for veterinarian visits, our dog expert and TODAY Facebook fans are dishing out what you need to know before getting a dog.
1. Research breeds before choosing a dog.Though you may have always dreamed of owning a poodle or a German shepherd, it’s important to know what you’re in for with each type of dog before you head to the shelter or breeder. “It’s critical the breed matches your lifestyle,” JoAnn Parsons wrote on TODAY’s Facebook page, and dog expert Sarah Wilson couldn’t agree more.“We fall in love with the form but don’t always realize that temperaments can be extremely different,” Wilson told TODAY.com. “Often people think all dogs are the same and they just have different exteriors.”Every breed has a personality of its own and knowing in advance what exactly that is could save you a lot of trouble down the road. “People seem upset when a Lab is chewing,” Wilson said. “But that’s what they do.”
2. Get ready to sacrifice your time.
Much like having a child, adopting a dog means you take on the responsibility of a living being whose needs often come before your own desires. That usually translates to giving up more time for your pet than you might be used to — or want to.
For Melissa Bragg Krishnamurthy, that meant an end to her pre-pet spontaneous plans. “No more last minutes plans for day, weekend or week-long trips,” she told TODAY. “You have to find someone to watch and let them out because you can’t always take them with you.”
Wilson advises that if you’re not prepared to make that kind of sacrifice, you shouldn’t go buy that dog collar just yet. “If you don’t have that time to give, it’s not yet time to have a dog,” she said. “They’re not creatures of isolation. You need to be available to them.”
3. If you have kids, schedule a home visit before adopting or buying.
Even if you love a dog and that dog loves you back, don’t commit to making that pooch a part of the family until you know that the dog is a fan of your kids, too. “If you have children, find a dog who loves your children, not just tolerates,” Wilson said.
Wilson recommends taking time to schedule a home visit with the dog to see how he or she interacts with your kids. The kind of behavior you should look for? Ears back, tail wagging and a sense that the dog wants to be around your child more than anything.
“When in doubt, look for similar things as you would when looking for a child or nanny,” Wilson said. “You are looking for an animal that is going to spend a decade in close contact with your child. Take your time.”
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