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Should I Adopt a Dog?

a man and woman wearing denim sitting outside with their adopted dog

Whether or not to adopt a dog is not a decision that should be made lightly. You want your life with your dog to be the best it can be and there are some important things to consider in order to make that happen:

  • Lifestyle
  • Cost
  • Space
  • The Dog
A mom and her daughter spend time with their dog outside.
If you're ready, adopting a dog can bring joy and friendship into your home.


Does a Dog Fit into Your Life?

You should figure out how much you would have to change your usual routine in order to keep a dog happy and healthy. There are some questions you should ask yourself before getting a dog:

  • What are your plans for the next 10 years?
  • Are you allowed to have pets where you live?
  • Do you have time for a dog?
  • Will exercise with a dog fit into your daily schedule?
  • Do you have the patience to train a dog?
  • Do you have a veterinarian selected?
  • Do you have a way for your dog to interact with other dogs?
  • Are you ready for potential messes and other dog destruction?
  • If you live with others, is everyone else okay with having a dog?

Of course, questions about lifestyle vary for each person and depending on each specific dog--it’s impossible to predict how your life with a dog will look, but it’s important to think about how well a dog would adjust to the life you live right now before you bring one into it. 


Dogs don’t want to spend their whole day alone, so if you aren’t at your home for most of the day that could be really tough for your dog. Dogs are social and need to spend time with humans. The American Kennel Club recommends a minimum of two hours of dedicated social time with humans or other dogs per day and no more than six to eight hours alone per day. 

There are options for your dog if you will be gone most of the day, like doggy day care or a dog walker--factor those options into your plan if you’re deciding to add a dog to an already very busy life. 

You also need to consider time for training, exercise, playing, and socialization with other dogs. 


If you travel a lot for a job, vacations, or visits to friends and family you need to think about what you would do with your dog during those trips. Something as simple as driving a few hours to visit family becomes more complicated with a dog--what will you do with your dog if you need a pit stop? What if your dog gets carsick? Is the yard fenced in where you’re going? 

Although a dog is a fantastic and loyal companion, owning one does keep you restricted to doing things that work for a dog. If you’re going to leave your dog at home during trips you’ll need a dog sitter you can trust to take care of your dog and give it the attention it needs. If you plan on taking your dog with you on trips, by car or airplane, make sure your dog will travel safely

Think about your usual amount of travel and any travel plans you have for the future before adopting a dog. You and your dog can travel the world together if you plan correctly and keep your dog’s needs in mind--or be homebodies! Whatever will make you and your dog happy. 

A person takes their adopted dog on a walk.
Is your dog going to go on trips with you, or will you have a pet sitter or a kennel for it? These are things you should know before you adopt a dog.


Can You Afford a Dog?

There are a number of unavoidable costs associated with getting a dog. Look at your current budget and add in these expenses before you decide you’re ready to adopt a dog. 

Dog Adoption

The price of a dog depends on where that dog is coming from. If you buy a dog from a breeder, it could cost you around $1,000 for certain breeds. 

Adopting a dog from a shelter costs less and saves that dog’s life. Shelters usually charge between $100-$400 for an adoption. The differences in price are based on the age of the dog, since puppies get adopted quicker than older dogs. The price of the spay or neuter, vaccinations, and microchip are often included in the adoption price. 

Veterinary Care

You should expect to spend $600 for veterinary visits the first year and $50 a month for flea, tick, and heartworm medication.

Even if you think your dog won’t need a lot of trips to the vet, it’s important to have an established relationship with a veterinarian in case of an emergency and to keep your dog up to date with vaccinations. 

You can take care of some injuries and help healing at home with first aid for your dog.  


How much you have to spend on dog food depends on the food you choose and the size of your dog--big dogs need more food. Expect to spend at least $200 a year on dog food.

Although there are some cheap dog foods available these aren’t always the best choice. You don’t want your dog to lose out on much needed nutrition, so check the ingredients before you buy dog food. 


Along with food, your dog needs a leash, collar, crate, food and water bowls, and toys. Depending on how much you decide your dog needs, you could spend between $150-$350 on supplies.  

A person reaches through a cage to pet dogs waiting for adoption.
Adopting a dog from a shelter saves a dog’s life and gives them the home they deserve. 


Room for Exercise

A dog needs room to run around. How much room and how much exercise they need varies by breed, but whatever dog you get needs space to get outside. 

If you have a fully fenced in yard you can probably give your dog the space it needs just by opening your door. If not, figure out where you’ll take your dog on walks and find a dog park where it can run around and play with other dogs.

Living Space

Does your home have room for a dog and the messes that dog is likely to make? If you live in a small place, here are some tips for successfully owning a dog in an apartment.  

A group of friends enjoys time outside with an adopted dog.
Figure out how your dog will fit into the activities you already do.  

The Dog

Are You Ready to Adopt a Puppy?

Adopting a puppy means committing to a lot of training. On top of any of the commands you want your dog to know, you’ll be dealing with teaching your dog to go to the bathroom outside and cleaning up countless messes along the way.

Having a puppy is very rewarding because they grow up knowing and loving you the whole time. And on top of that, puppies are cute! A puppy is an option for you as long as you’re ready for a lot of training and a lot of patience. 

There are many adult dogs in shelters who need homes, so even if you’re all in for puppy training maybe look at the adult dogs at your nearby shelter first. 

Of course, adult dogs are also a serious time commitment when it comes to training. If you adopt a rescue who has some past trauma to work through you’ll need a great deal of time and patience to help your dog become comfortable and trained. 

Read up on Breeds

Do some research on different kinds of dogs before you adopt one. Even if you’re not planning on getting a purebred, you can find information on purebred dogs and mixed breeds and get an idea of what your mutt will be like. 

Learning about different breeds can prepare you for how much exercise your dog will need, any health concerns they are likely to have, and what their disposition might be. 

Two dogs socializing together on a walk outside.
Dogs need time to socialize with humans and other dogs.

Adopting a dog can be a wonderful experience, but before you do it you need to think about whether or not you’re really ready. Use this guide to help you decide if you’re ready to adopt a dog so that when you do get a dog, you can both be happy and healthy for life. 

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