Dog Love

10 Things You Need To Know Before Getting a Dog
By Marie Wagner Updated: Feb. 28, 2021
Dogs are great fun and hugely rewarding, but owning one can also be costly and time-consuming. Are you ready to take on the responsibility? Check out this list of things you need to know before getting a dog.
1. A dog is for life.
Owning a dog is a lifetime commitment. Animals develop deep bonds with you and your family. Any change in ownership can be extremely traumatic, so you should be prepared for the responsibility involved in dog ownership. Dog owners need to be able to provide shelter, food, water, medical care, and love and attention.
2. Owning a dog can be expensive.
Owning a dog is also a considerable financial commitment. The average care for one dog, which includes food, supplies, and basic veterinary care, averages $800 – $1,000 a year. Emergency care can range from $250 to $5,000.
3. Buy your dog accessories in advance.  
Before you take your new dog home, make sure you have all the basic supplies. These include a dog collar, (you should be able to put two fingers between the collar and the dog’s neck), ID tag and rabies tag, a leash (four to six feet long), food and water bowls (steel, glass, or ceramic preferred), a comfortable dog bed, and toys.
4. You'll need a good vet.
Find a good vet before you bring your pup home. Online resources like can help you find vets in your area.
5. Create a safe home for your dog.
“Dog-proof” your home. Be sure to keep anything that may be toxic to your pet out of the reach. Key things to look out for are poisonous plants, plastic bags and chemical cleaners. If you’re unsure call the Pet Poison Helpline.
6. Be prepared for house training.
Puppies require house training as they will not automatically know that the yard-not the house-is the appropriate place to… Do their business. It’s the responsibility of the owner to house train the dog. This requires time, lots of patience and a consistent and dedicated regimen.
7. Allow your dog to be social.
Socialize your dog early on. By exposing your dog to various people and environments-not to mention other dogs-it will become a more stable, happy, and confident animal. Be sure to continue socialization beyond the puppy years. Socialization reduces the likelihood that your dog could become fearful or aggressive toward other people and animals.
8. Be prepared to groom your dog.
Groom your dog, making sure to ease into a grooming routine. Begin with shorter sessions, and gradually increase to the normal grooming session. Be sure that whoever is grooming the dog pets it frequently, and that your dog is rewarded in the end. Your dog’s nails should not touch the ground, and your dog should be brushed regularly. This will prevent tangles and reduce the risk of skin irritation. Your vet can help you plan an appropriate grooming schedule for your particular dog, depending on breed and hair type.
9. You’ll be a dentist.
Brush your dog’s teeth in order to prevent dental diseases. Three to five times a week is recommended, and your vet can give you a lesson as well as recommend an appropriate toothbrush and paste.
10. Be sure about your decision.
Above all, make sure that getting a dog is a wise decision for you, your family and your living situation-not just now, but 10, 12, and even 15 years from now.
(Originally Published: March 16, 2016)

Organizations / From sources across the web

American Kennel Club

Humane Society of the United States

Guide Dogs for the Blind

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

Best Friends Animal Society

Pets for Vets

Canine Companions for Independence

Hope for Paws

Project POOCH

American Humane

Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Courthouse Dogs Foundation

Wild Dog Destruction Board

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary

African Wild Dog Conservancy

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

International Guiding Eyes, Inc.

Dogs Trust

American Sighthound Field Association

Seeing Dogs Alliance

Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America

Botswana Predator Conservation Trust

Painted Dog Conservation

Humane Society International

Animal Aid Unlimited

Canine Performance Events


North American Dog Agility Council

American Veterinary Medical Association

Paws with a Cause

The Seeing Eye

Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs, Inc.

United Kennel Club



The Kennel Club

Leader Dogs for the Blind

Freedom Service Dogs


Canadian Kennel Club

American Animal Hospital Association

Pedigree Petfoods

Friends of Animals