8 Things to Know Before You Get a Dog

Last week was officially our one year mark of owning our dog Chester. We adopted him on a whim from the animal shelter, and it's been amazing to see how he's really become a part of the family in just a year's time. There have been moments where we've been super frustrated with training and progress, but at the same time, we'd never change having him in our home. We really love this dog more than we thought. With that being said, here are 8 things you should know before owning a dog. 

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1) You're going to end up loving them. When we first brought Chester home I thought he was a kind of gross to be honest. The kids and Derek were really excited about him, but he was kind of just this dirty dog from the shelter to me. After we gave him a bath and he'd been around for a few days, he started to really grow on me. Now he sleeps next to me every night and we often cuddle on the couch. Things I literally never thought I'd say.

2) You need quite a bit of stuff to get started. Before you get your dog you need to go to the pet store for dog food, food bowls, a kennel, a blanket for the kennel, a collar with their name on it, shampoo, treats, and a brush. Once you get your dog home you'll need vaccinations and getting them spayed or neutered. I think the start up cost for everything, including adoption fees was about $700 when everything was said and done. This was for a small dog from the shelter who was not neutered.

3) If a shelter gives you a certificate for a free neutering, it might be all lies. Our animal shelter gave us a certificate for a free neutering at a specific clinic, so we drove an hour from our house to have it done, only to get a bill from the office saying that the certificate only covered the neutering and that it didn't cover meds, anesthesia, stitching, or any other part of the procedure, and charged us $400 for it. This was after we called them beforehand asking if the neutering was free, which they said yes, and then left out all the other details. I was ticked.

4) Where you live matters. We got our dog when we were living in a single level home with a fenced in yard. Now that we live in our townhome, owning him is a bit of a nightmare since we don't have a lot of accessible grass for him. We're excited to move this summer to a place that has a better setup for him. With that though, you should also make sure to puppy proof your home before you bring home your new dog.

5) They will chew everything. Chester was still a puppy when we got him (about 18 months), and he chewed through a good amount of toys, eyeglasses, and my underwear (he literally ate ALL OF MY UNDERWEAR) in the first six months we had him. That being said, he is out of his chewing phase, and it feels so good to not have to worry about that anymore. Young puppies are definitely going to have high energy, and are more likely to do this than adult dogs.

6) Save money for grooming. Chester isn't super high maintenance, so we get him groomed only twice per year. it still costs around $75 each visit though, and that's money you have to plan for when you have a pet.

7) A good dog sitter is worth their weight in gold. When we first got Chester we left him with a pet sitter we found on Rover (when you use my link you get $20 off your first pet sitter), and we've LOVED him. He's a little expensive but totally worth it, since we know he spends a lot of time with our dog and gives him lots of attention. We left Chester at a dog boarding place once and he got super sick from it. Now we only use the sitter we found on Rover and have been super happy with him.

8) Your dog will drive you nuts. Not going to lie, that first year can be rough. Chester chewed so many dirty diapers from the trash, underwear, and toys, that he was throwing up a lot at first. House training, vet visits, and learning how to be a dog owner can all be a little maddening at first, even if you have a good dog (which I believe we really got off easy compared to most people). But if you stay the course and train your dog, they will learn, and those phases will pass. Despite all the mischief, they really do become a part of your family, and you wouldn't want to get rid of them for the world.

Dog ownership is a huge responsibility, but overall I'm really glad that we decided to adopt a dog, and give him a forever home. The last year has definitely not been easy, but it's, been worth it to see the way our kids interact with him, and to see those precious bonds form.


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