- Before getting a dog, if you have the time and commitment, I highly recommend becoming a volunteer at the local shelter so you can learn a bit more about dogs. I started volunteering at the local humane society back in May 2016. I started as a dog socializer for easy, happy dogs and move up to becoming a dog walker and now just passed being able to handle any dogs. I have also taken a class called "Foundation of Dogs" taught by Trish King which has given me a better understanding of dogs. But of course, no class or books can ever compare to real life experience but at least in theory, you have a better understanding.
- Now on to real life experience. Foster dogs if you can! In my opinion, the best way to get to know a dog is to actually foster them. This way, they get a chance to actually live at your home. This is what we did with our dog. We attended an orientation and luckily on that day, our dog was available to be taken home. It gives everyone a chance to get to know each other and a time for you to figure out if it's a good fit. If a good fit, adopt, if not, then you are only committed to taking care of the dog till someone else fosters or adopts them. It took us a week to fall in love with our dog. She's very well behaved and have not damaged anything in the house. She gained our trust within a month to be able to free roam the house. Now we try to take her out as much as we can, mostly to dog parks to socialize.
- Unless you will be home and have A LOT of time the first few months, do NOT get a puppy. A lot of people get so excited and think getting a puppy is the best since they're so cute but it also comes with A LOT more work, you must be prepared and KNOW what you're getting into before adopting a puppy. They're also more expensive. Adoption fees are more expensive since most people want puppies, they require more training, more shots, etc
- Get pet insurance! Ours cost about $400 per year (I just posted a video on this and another video specifically talking about how much we have saved by having insurance. You never know what will happen, especially if you like to take your dogs to any outdoor activity. We have not had to use this yet but we have it in case of emergency. You never know when these happens, that's what having insurance is for.
- For the first year at least, get a wellness plan at a local vet. We got ours through Tama Veterinary. Most veterinarians offer first free visit so you get a chance to decide if you like them or not. Wellness plans run from $400 to $500 yearly. Ours is $400 for one year and includes unlimited vet visits (we as paranoid first time parents already utilized this a lot 😀), shots, blood work, heart worm control, stool test. To me, it was well worth it. We probably have utilize the entire year's cost in two months with all the visits we have done so far.
- Get the BarkBox subscription. I signed up for an entire year so it costs about $20 per month. Here is the link for you to check out. We receive monthly treats and toys. Your dog is going to need lots of mental stimulation on top of their daily exercise. Depending on your dog and how sturdy the toy is, they will probably go through and rip off the toys pretty quickly. Getting BarkBox allows you to not think about what toys or fun treats to get next. They do the thinking for you and we have enjoyed all the products we've received from them so far.
- Take your dog to a training class! I recommend those that uses positive reinforcement. This means they use treats to teach. Do not sign up for those trainers that use prong or some sort of shock collar. I made a mistake of signing up our dog to a class that is very close by but they use prong collars. What I've learned at the humane society is these collars hurt. I did not like how they tend to pull and punish the dogs a lot if they don't do something correctly. We are moving on to another class at the shelter that only uses positive reinforcement.
- Don't forget their hygiene! We bathe our dog every 2 weeks and I give her dental treats every day before she goes to bed. We tried brushing her teeth but she's not a big fan of being brushed. Also, I clip her nails every couple of weeks when it grows longer and brush her fur daily since her breed sheds a lot.
- Socialize your dogs as much as you can. What does socialization means? It means exposing them to as many new things or experiences as you can, like new people, new environment, new dogs so they can become confident and not easily get scared when encountering new things.
There will always be new things to learn from being pet parents but the above are the most important in my opinion or at least should get you started on the right foot. So to date, I have spent $1800 in 2 months for my dog and they went mostly to what I've listed above.
I'm very happy to say despite the expenses and time, she's a great joy to be around. She's always so excited to see us when we get home, she's very playful and loyal to us and provides a lot of laughter due to the little cute stuff she does.... Below are some photos of her. She is turning 3 years old in August and currently weigh 36 lbs. She is of a Jindo (South Korean breed) and we also named her Jindo. Who names their dogs the breed, probably no one so we are unique 😄
Update for 2019: We just got a second dog in May. I will write a separate blog on that as well. Stay tuned 🙂