Adopting a new dog is an exciting decision - no doubt you're already thinking about the bond you'll create, the fun you'll have together and the memories you'll make.
But how do you know you're ready to take that step and welcome a dog into your life?
And how can you make sure you're making a responsible decision, not just one you want to make, but one you're ready to make?
Things you need to consider
There are plenty of questions you need to ask yourself before you take the plunge and adopt a dog. Do you have the time required to train a dog, and settle them into your home, as well as the ongoing time needed each day for their walks and playtime?
Do you have the right kind of home, with an escape-proof backyard, with rain and wind-proof shelter, as well as shade from the sun? Where will your dog sleep?
And importantly, do you have the funds to be a responsible pet owner, including paying for nutritious food, regular vet check-ups and routine care, toys and other enrichment, puppy school (if you want to get a puppy), and pet insurance to help pay for any unexpected costs?
If you're able to answer these questions confidently, then there are still a few more steps to take before you're truly ready for a dog.
Find out what kind of dog will suit your lifestyle
A lot of us have a preference for a particular dog breed - but it's important we get the facts and really assess whether that breed is right for our lifestyle.
You might love the way a Border Collie looks, for example, but do you have the space and the time to give these highly active, intelligent dogs the exercise and mental enrichment they need?
Or you might adore Great Danes, but you want a running partner - and Great Danes, despite their size, are not very high energy.
Even more importantly, a breed can't tell you everything you need to know about an individual dog's temperament and lifestyle needs.
The best way to approach finding the right dog for you, is to have a discussion with the shelter manager at your local rescue, and explain your lifestyle and needs. They'll be able to advise what dogs they currently have in care that would match with you.
If your heart is set on a puppy from a breeder, make sure to do your research to find a responsible, registered breeder, and talk to them to ascertain whether the breed you want is suited to your lifestyle. It's important to also meet the puppy in person, preferably with both its parents, before you take it home.
And always remember, dogs are highly individual, and it's important to approach your new dog with openness and flexibility, and a commitment to ongoing training.
Before you pick up your new dog, it's important to make sure you have everything you need prepared for their arrival. Have you sourced their food, food bowls, dog bed, kennel, and prepped your backyard? Have you considered how they might interact with any existing family pets, and made a plan for introduction?
And have you planned the timing around work and other commitments, to ensure you have capacity to settle them in?
The RSPCA Knowledgebase has lots of helpful articles on caring for a new dog, which can assist you in preparing.
Dogs are wonderful companions, and introducing a new dog to your life is very exciting. With the right preparation and foresight, you'll be ready to begin a lifelong lifelong partnership with your new best friend.
- The RSPCA relies on donations to protect and care for animals and educate humans: rspca.org.au