According to Forbes, as of 2023, there are 65.1 million households in the United States that own dogs. They also found that the average dog owner spends an average of $730 annually on the dog. Are you thinking about adding a dog to your family? Here are a few tips to get you started.


Breed research

Whether you like dogs with pushed in faces and short ears, or you are drawn to the sleek lines of a Saluki, it is essential to pick the breed that suits your lifestyle. When I adopted my first dog, I knew a dog that would be happy lounging on the couch and wouldn’t need a ton of exercise would best suit my lifestyle. I knew I didn’t have time for a dog that needed a “job”, like a border collie. I didn’t need a dog to guard livestock, nor did I want one that would fit in my purse. It turns out a retired racing greyhound was the ideal fit for me.

Do you have time for a puppy? If you’d prefer not having to start from scratch, an adult dog is probably best. If possible, borrow a friend’s dog for the weekend to get an idea of what you’ll be getting into. Check out your local rescues. Contact specific breed rescues or social media groups and ask questions. Most people love talking about their dog.

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Rescue vs. Breeder 

Budget will play a big part in whether you go to a breeder or rescue. Get the best of both worlds by going to a breed specific rescue! 

Rescues are required to spay/neuter dogs that are over 6 months old before adoption. This will be an added expense if you adopt a puppy from a breeder, although there are many clinics that will spay or neuter your dog for a reduced cost.

While it’s the last thing we want to do, there is always a chance you will have to return your dog. Find out the policy for returning the pet. Most rescues will require that you return the dog to them if it doesn’t work out. You may or may not get your money back. Find out what guarantees your breeder offers. Be sure not to throw the towel in too soon. Puppies make messes, so do adult dogs. Talk to people and get help. There is often a better solution than returning your dog.

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Prepare your home

Find out from the rescue or breeder what food your new pal is currently on. If you want to switch foods, you will need to wean them off their old food. You’ll also need treats, toys, a dog bed, dental care, feeders… Sometimes a collar or leash will come with your pup. Find out ahead of time and shop as necessary. You may also need a crate or carrier. Rescues will sometimes lend these out while your dog is in training.

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Find a Vet

Don’t wait until your pup is home to find a vet. It’s always best to get references from other dog owners ahead of time. You can also ask the breeder or rescue for their recommendations. Research online reviews. Call prospective veterinary offices to get an idea of exam prices. Consider the breed of dog you are getting, and find out if your prospective vet has experience with them.

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Pet Insurance

To insure, or not to insure? While it’s a gamble as to whether or not you will come out ahead, there are a few things to ask yourself: Can you afford an unexpected emergency? Does your dog have pre-existing conditions? What routine care is covered by the insurance, if any? How old is your dog? 

Make sure your dog is safe when you are not around with this 6-pack of “Save Our Pets” Emergency Alert Decals for $6.

License & Microchip

Many dogs will come already microchipped. Find out if that is the case with your new friend. If they have been chipped, you will need to update the owner information. 

You will also need to license your dog within your city. In order to get the license, you will need to prove your dog is up to date on their rabies vaccinations.

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Finally, it is crucial that you properly train your dog. Regardless if it’s a Great Dane or Maltese, a well-trained dog ensures a happy and long life together. 

Reward your pup with these highly-rated Blue Buffalo Soft Bits Dog Training Treats for $4.95 at Amazon.