By Rachel Gore

Is now a good time for you to adopt a dog? As much as you might want your future furry friend; it’s important to consider the investment you’ll have to make over the course of its lifetime before taking the plunge. After all, a dog is a big responsibility and being a good owner involves a lot more than love and attention.

By making sure you choose the right time to adopt, your dog will have a happier life and you will both get more out of the companionship. That said, here are some questions to consider before adopting a dog:

  1. Does a dog fit into your schedule? Dogs aren’t low-maintenance, and this rings extra true for puppies. If your day is packed from morning to night with obligations and there’s no one else in the household willing to step up and split the responsibilities, now is probably not a good time to adopt a dog. Ensuring you have time for training, vet visits and regular walks and playtime is essential for you to provide your dog with a high quality of life. While a fenced-in yard might work for quick bathroom trips, walks offer physical health benefits, mental stimulation, socialization and training opportunities that a yard won’t.
  2. Are you willing to wake up earlier? Not everyone is a morning person. Some of us like to roll out of bed at the last minute, get ready quickly, then begin our workdays. With a new dog, that can’t be the case. At a bare minimum, your dog will need breakfast and a quick walk in the morning, especially if you’re going to be at work for more than a few hours. Puppies are even more high-maintenance and need to go out every few hours. Considering adopting a slightly older potty-trained dog if waking up in the middle of the night for a while sounds too disruptive. If you want to avoid the morning walks entirely, consider adopting a slightly lower maintenance but still lovable creature like a cat (just make sure you understand their unique needs).
  3. Do you have the money for a dog? Upfront costs for adopting a dog dwarf the costs you’ll accumulate over time. Anticipate recurring expenses like vet bills, vaccinations, grooming, toys, food and heartworm and flea medication. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that first year costs alone for dogs ranges from around $1,314 and $1,843, including around $400 for upfront bare necessities. If you’re pinching pennies to cover necessities alone, it might be better to wait until you’re more financially comfortable, so you don’t have to cut corners when it comes to your dog’s needs.
  4. Have you done your research? You can thank the internet for the breadth of up-todate information about the rescue process, the needs of a puppy versus an older dog (hint: as adorable as they are, young puppies are a lot more work than many realize), characteristics of specific breeds, best overall care practices and more. You can never be too prepared, and it’s wise to continue reading current information about dog care, even in future years, as experts learn more about how to best care for canine companions.

These questions aren’t meant to make having a dog sound arduous and unappealing. In fact, the opposite is true: owning a dog brings unparalleled benefits to you and your family and can be worth every penny and minute you spend on them. At the same time, it’s important to consider these things before committing to being solely responsible for another creature’s health and happiness.

If you answered all of these questions with a resounding “yes!” and feel like now is the time to adopt, go ahead and get that dog. If now’s not the right time, that’s okay too. Know that you can always get a dog when circumstances change for the better.