Before we get into the checklists and things you need to have on hand, we should start with the preparation that goes into the decision of bringing a dog home. Yes, the physical buying of stuff and moving of furniture, but first let’s talk about the mental prep. Because this is a really big deal.
Life will be different after getting a dog. In the beginning, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed while you figure out your new routines. The highlight reels of Instagram make life with a dog look glamorous, but when’s the last time your friend posted a photo of those middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks?
Before you commit to anything, it’s a good idea to ask yourself the tough questions:
Does my current living situation allow dogs? When am I planning on moving next?
Where will my dog eat/sleep/use the bathroom?
Do I have the time for a dog? What will they do while I’m at work?
Is my mental state in the right place right now? Can I add a dependent creature to my life at this moment?
Can I afford this? What does my monthly budget look like?
These questions and answers are really for you - to make sure that you’re in the right headspace going into this. Because before the next steps and getting preparations ready at your house, there’s this psychological hurdle. I’m not saying you should be 100% confident and secure in every single answer up there because we can’t predict the future, but these are the questions you’ll have to readdress over the next 15 years.
If you are not ready yet, that’s okay! If your life isn’t right for a dog right now that does not mean the opportunity isn’t coming in the future.
This is a life-altering decision in the best possible way and we want to make sure that you have everything you need to think this through.
Before You Bring Them Home
Try to think about your space from your pet's perspective. It’s important to look out for sharp corners at their level, put your cleaning products up high, and pick up some childproof latches for any cabinet they shouldn’t be getting into. Double-check that your plant collection is safe if your dog decides to take a nibble.
Find hideaways for anything that you do not want to be ruined--especially for the introductory period. I lost my computer charger and headphones in the first week because I had never considered that cords look like chew toys.
Every dog is curious about their surroundings and wants to sniff everything. Which makes total sense, they have 300 million olfactory senses. We have 400. They experience the world through their nose, but it will inevitably lead them straight to the garbage can. Make sure yours is dog-proof or completely tucked away.
Preparing your space is a great way to reduce the stress of bringing them home. It’s a lot easier to forgive an accident when it doesn’t happen on your favorite rug.
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Your new support network is populated with friends, dog walkers, neighbors, trainers, and friendly folks on the street who do happen to have an extra poop bag.
Send out some feelers. Which one of your friends would love to pet sit? Who is picking up the phone in the middle of the night to talk you through a puppy problem? Does your neighbor have a dog who would love a walking buddy?
If you have roommates, this is the time to make sure they’re fully on board. Be honest with each other about expectations and responsibilities. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, but no one likes getting pee on their blankets.
It is incredible how quickly this network will expand. At the dog park, on the sidewalk, in the elevator of your building, even walking down the street your dog will bring a whole new crop of people in your life.
Dog people are the best and they want what is best for your dog too. The friendships you make shivering in the cold at 6 AM while your dogs refuse to pee will last you a lifetime.