Adopting a dog is a big decision. As their guardian, you will be responsible for the care and wellbeing of the dog their entire life – 11 years on average. It means going for daily walks, even when you are tired and it is pouring with rain. Cleaning up messes and picking up dog poop. Waking up early on the weekends to let your dog out and finding someone to look after them when you go away and can’t bring your dog with you.
On the plus side, it also means having a companion with you as you go for a walk in the park or on a hike, and at home while reading or watching T.V. Watching them have fun when playing with their favourite dog friends will bring a smile to your face. And above all, experiencing the unconditional love of a dog will fill your heart with joy.
Being a dog guardian is both hard work AND so much fun. Before adopting a dog, ask yourself the questions below and decide — are you ready to make the commitment? If after going through the list you are still unsure, perhaps apply to volunteer with animals or foster a pet.
1. Does everyone in your home want a dog?
Dogs become family members! Everyone should agree with the decision to get one. Is anyone in your home allergic to dogs? Even if it is a mild allergy, this could grow to become a problem for them.
2. Do you know how to care for a dog?
Learn as much as you can before you bring a dog home. Read dog care books, do research online, talk to animal shelter staff and people you know who have dogs. Learn more about caring for dogs.
3. What is your schedule like?
Dogs need a dependable daily routine of feeding, walking and play. Guardians that are gone all day and then out again in the evening, would be leaving a dog alone for too long.
4. What dog personality will suit your lifestyle?
Dogs have different personalities. Some are shy and anxious, while others are excitable and outgoing. Some are very people focused. Others are more independent. Choosing a dog whose personality and energy level is a good match for your lifestyle is key to a lifetime of awesome canine companionship.
5. Do you have a particular breed in mind?
Some people are drawn to a particular breed because they have seen them on social media or out on the street, but it is important to do some research first. Search the breed online, talk to people who have the breed you are interested in. Find out what the dogs are really like to live with. See whether the breed has any health issues. Above all, keep an open mind — mixed-breed dogs make awesome pets, too!
6. Are you allowed to have a dog where you live?
Unfortunately, not all living spaces allow dogs. Some places are pet-friendly but may have restrictions on the size of the dog you can keep. It is important to check with your landlord or strata to find out if dogs are allowed where you live.
7. Do you have any other pets?
Not all dogs get along with animals such as cats or other dogs. If you already have pets in the home, consider them before making a decision. Your home should be a safe and comfortable place for all pets.
8. Have you considered the costs?
There are many costs associated with having a dog. Adoption fees, food, toys, ID, leashes, supplies and license fees are just the beginning. You will need to budget for ongoing veterinary costs. Accidents and illness will happen during your pet’s lifetime so plan to set aside an emergency fund for your pet and consider the benefits of a pet insurance plan.
9. How old should the dog be when you adopt them?
Puppies are a blast! They are also a TON of work to socialize and train. As a dog grows up, their personality develops. So you may know a little more about what you are getting into with an older dog compared to a puppy. Learn why senior animals make great pets.
10. Where should you get your dog?
Make the BC SPCA your first adoption option! BC SPCA animal centres have dogs of every description waiting for their forever home. Check out what dogs are currently available for adoption by viewing our online database.
You can also find your new companion through a rescue or reputable breeder. Learn how to recognize a good breeder and avoid puppy mills. Puppy mills are places where dogs are bred in large numbers and sold through pet stores or on the internet just to make money. The dogs are often kept in very poor conditions. Most do not receive the medical care or socialization they need to be good companions.
Decided to adopt a dog but are unsure what to do next?
Download our checklist (PDF) and be prepared before you bring your new dog home. Find out what to get and plan for!
Caring for dogs
Should I adopt a dog or buy one?
How to adopt an animal from the BC SPCA
Search our database of adoptable animals