The Decision- Adding a Dog to Your Family

Family with Dog in a park

The decision to purchase a dog for your family is a big one, its a bigger decision that deciding to buy a new car or a new home. This decision is one that many people dont realize its magnitude until after they have the dog. This is quite unfortunate for many of these dogs because some of them end up in a pound somewhere or being sold or given away to other families, or worse put down or neglected.

The idea of a puppy in the home is one that kids everywhere beg their parents for they ask and plead, promising to take care of it fully. Parents usually know better the novelty of a puppy only lasts for a short period of time, or until the kids have to pick up their first puppy present on the living room carpet.

The fact of the matter is that kids cant actually fully care for a puppy, a puppy needs an adult who can train and teach in house training and obedience.

There are a number of things that you need to research before you decide to purchase a dog, and it starts right in your own home.

Couple with two dogs
Communication with our dogs is very possible.

Step One Look Around Your Home

The first step to the decision is to look around your home, even if the decision has already been made, take a last look at the way your home used to look, because in the near future, it probably wont look the same once you have a puppy.

If you are quite fond of your furniture, you may want to look at where you can house the puppy until it learns not to chew the legs off your chairs and the arms on your sofa if you dont have an area like this, you will have to consider other methods of containment or rethink your decision.

Take a look at your carpet. Remember, puppies dont come house broken, and there is a pretty good chance that they will have an accident or two on your living room carpet. Its not the end of the world, but you have to be willing to clean it up with pet odor spray for carpets or perhaps even a rug shampooer.

Do you have knick-knacks around your home? If they are low to the ground where a puppy could get to them, or easily knocked over onto the floor by a large beating tail or a running-out-of-control puppy, you will want to relocate these objects.

These steps are known as puppy proofing your home. If you have children, it is similar to baby proofing your home, except that it seems a little more extreme in some cases. Babies dont ruin furniture and carpets, but puppies can.

Couple spending time with dog on couch
Dogs need human interaction and time, just like we do.

Step Two Decide How Much Time You Have

Puppies take time a lot of it. You should expect that your new puppy will require at least two hours of your time each and every day, including that of your children. All together, a puppy (depending on the type) can eat up to five hours of your time each day.

You will need to allot time each morning to take your puppy outside, have someone to be there through the day to take the puppy outside once every half an hour until they learn their housebreaking.

Couple spending time with dog on couch
Dogs need human interaction and time, just like we do.

You will also have to allot time throughout the day and evening for walks, for a puppy, 15 minutes of a walk is plenty, but that should happen at least twice a day.

As you puppy gets older, those two walks a day will need to increase in time and intensity so that your dog has enough exercise and play time.

If your family cant find two hours each day to care for your puppy, then the decision is made a puppy isnt right for you at this time. However, once you have established that everyone can and will allocate time to the puppy of at least two hours, not including extra play and training time, a puppy may fit well with your family.

Step Three Time To Research Breeds

You cant just run out to the pet store, pound or breeder and choose the cutest puppy you see. Choosing a puppy that is right for your family and lifestyle is the biggest decision of all.

Check out these resources here on

  • Detailed information in our Breed Guides make it easy to narrow down the breeds that would fit your general needs.

  • Our Find-A-Breed tool lets you enter specific parameters and generates a list of links to breed guides with more information.

If you live in a small home with little or no yard space, owning a large breed dog that weighs well over 100 pounds is not ideal for you.

Each breed has its own characteristics that need to be considered, heres a list of considerations that you should make with each breed of dog before choosing.

Man and Woman reading a dog breed book
Educate yourself on various breed traits.
  • Size and weight find out how much the dog will weigh approximately and how big you can expect them to get. You can research on the Internet to find information on different breeds right here in our large library of breed guides, and use our breed match tool to find breeds with traits that match you.

  • Disposition and personality not all dogs are created equal. Some are labeled as better family pets, while others do well in a small family or adult only situation. Some dog breeds dont tolerate children very well, while other breeds love children.

  • Health concerns most dog breeds have a set of potential health concerns that you need to be aware of. Some of the most common and severe problems to watch for are hip, back, endocrine, nodal and ear problems. If you are planning on a registered bred puppy, you can check the lineage of the puppies parents to see if any problems have occurred in the line.

  • Intelligence dog breeds have been categorized by their intelligence some breeds are just smarter than others and pick up on training quicker than others. This will affect the time that it takes you to train your puppy and how much time you will have to devote to the overall training process for both housebreaking and obedience.

Step Four To Crate or Not To Crate

Crate training is a subject that has been debated for decades some trainers will tell you that it is necessary for a properly trained dog, while others will tell you that it is cruel to your animal. The fact is that crate training, when done properly, is a great training tool.

You must not leave your puppy or dog in a crate for too long they cant spend the entire day in their kennel, only being let out to eat and go outside to do their business. Puppies need affection and attention or they will go crazy and no amount of training, in a crate or not, will fix that.

Some dog breeds respond better to crate training than others, and for some dog breeds, crate training is a must. While researching your breed, you will likely find methods of teaching and training your new puppy and whether or not a crate is necessary.

Dog sitting in a pile of cash bills
Remember to consider the cost of food, vet bills, and emergencies.

Step Five Consider Your Pocketbook

Dogs are expensive and not just to purchase. You will have to consider the costs of vaccinations and neutering or spaying your dog. Its also important to have a cushion of funds for emergencies and vet bills that can crop up unexpectedly.

When you have done your research and decided on purchasing a puppy, its a fine time to introduce your puppy to your home and family.

You will have to decide on a training method either by enrolling in local puppy training classes, purchasing some self-help books for dog training or searching the Internet and magazines for information on training. Dont forget that it is equally important to train your family how to socialize with your puppy as it is to train the puppy.

Have fun with your new puppy!

May you have many joyous years of companionship and friendship.


Find more articles for First Time Dog Owners here.



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