As someone who’s known for a very long time that I don’t want to have any actual kids, my parents are fully aware that any grandchildren they get will be the furry kind. Dogs have always been my favourite animal, to the point where I have openly declared that I miss my ex’s dogs more than I ever missed them (they know who they are).
But despite my extreme adoration for them, I don’t currently have a dog of my own (thanks, real estate). So while I wait for the right circumstances to get my own, I’ve done a whole bunch of research on how to find the right pup for you and where to adopt (not shop).
Here are a few things you should consider when you pick out your forever friend, because if you bring one home and then end up having to rehome them, I will be very, very cross with you and put you directly into the cone of shame.
1. What’s your living situation like?
The first thing I’m going to tell you to do is banish any selfish thoughts out of your brain regarding what YOU need in a puppy. You’re taking on a dependent little friend who’s going to rely on you for pretty much everything, so let’s think about what THEY need.
Put it this way: if you live in a tiny flat with no backyard and won’t have time to take them out for walks, you better not be going for a giant or overly-active dog who needs fresh air and room for big bounding. That’s just mean, now isn’t it?
Not every pup is going to suit your house or flat, or be friends with your other pets, so you’ve got to be realistic with the type you can have.
2. Can you match their energy levels?
Some dogs are zippy li’l racers who will run rings around you faster than you can reach your hand into a pack of treats. Some will be so snoozy that you could literally be shouting their name and all they’ll give you is a cursory glance. And I can sympathise, because if I were ever transformed into a dog, I would be the latter.
If you’ve got the kind of lifestyle and living space that will allow a super energetic dog to race around, and be taken on regular walks for upwards of an hour a day, you can opt for a dog that loves to run. If you’re not often at home and can only give 20-30 minutes of exercise per day, you might want to go for a cute snoozer.
3. Have you thought about how much it’ll cost?
Did you know that the average cost for getting a new pup may be upwards of a few thousand dollars in the first year? We’re talking things like insurance, training (Petbarn Puppy School is a good place to start), collars, vaccinations, desexing and even furniture — it’s far more than just the adoption fee. Then you have ongoing costs like food, vet check-ups and grooming, so you want to make sure you absolutely have the means to take care of them.
4. How big are they gonna grow?
Let’s take a moment to remember that just because a puppy is small when they’re born, doesn’t mean they’re going to stay that way forever. My brother’s Irish wolfhound could fit in my arms when she first came into our lives, and now she’s so big that if she stands on two legs, she’s taller than I am (admittedly, at 5’2 it’s not hard).
Even if you have plenty of yard and space, you might prefer not to take in a truly giant dog. Me? I say the bigger the better. Give me a sooky Great Dane who wants to cuddle, any day of the week. But that might not be right for you. You might have small kidlets and want something a bit more their size — just think ahead.
5. Is it the right time for you to get a pup?
Do you have any long-term travel goals that you haven’t hit yet? Planning on jet-setting away for months at a time? That’s hardly fair on a new best friend. The one thing that stops a lot of people from getting a pup is knowing that they won’t be there to take care of them.
If you can give yourself at least six months between holidays though, you’ll give your new puppy time to get used to both you and their new digs. But if you’ve got a big trip planned sometime soon, perhaps now isn’t the time.
6. How much grooming are you willing to do?
I guess the real question here is: how much do you love vacuuming? Are lint rollers your best friend? Do you enjoy brushing and combing through fur? Some pups are going to have luscious coats that need a lot more maintenance than a short-haired pooch, and you’ll have to take that into account when you pick ’em.
Short-haired dogs will generally be lower maintenance when it comes to aesthetics, so if time is a concern (or you like your living room to be hair-free) you might want to opt for that. But if you don’t mind some added grooming and you already vacuum regularly, why not opt for a long-haired pup. Shed happens, you know, and you can always take your dog in to your local Petbarn Grooming salon for everything from a quick bath and blow dry to a full on pampering sesh.
Ultimately though, whether you have your heart set on a particular breed or you’ve fallen in love with that one playful puppy in the litter who had a funny face when you scratched behind their ears, being a new pet owner is a fun journey, but can be pretty stressful.
If you’re not sure whether you’re ready, or which breed suits you best, or even which brand of dog food will taste the best as your new bestie wolfs it down, it’s worth asking the experts at Petbarn and they’ll be able to sort you out.Image: John Wick