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Deciding to adopt a dog

Making the decision to bring on a new member of the family is a really big decision, and it’s important to understand not only what it takes to be a dog owner but also what type of dog is right for your life and lifestyle.

Young or old

The first decision you must make when thinking about adopting a new dog is whether you want a young pup, a child, an adult, or a senior dog. This decision is complicated, and there are many things to consider. The biggest barriers are with puppies and senior dogs.

It’s possible to find a dog as young as 8-weeks old to adopt. It’s equally as possible to find dogs as old as twelve to adopt. These are both challenging propositions. Adopting a puppy means training from scratch. Tons of energy. It means going through all the frustrations, sacrifices, and ultimately, rewards of grooming a dog in your own vision. A senior comes with similar challenges.

Many believe that older dogs are “set in their ways.” This means that it can be more challenging to train a senior dog to change a behavior. There is also the problem of medications, uncertain health and wellness habits, and general resistance to change. Taking in a senior dog, knowing that you might have a few years or less with her, is an emotional challenge that should not be taken lightly.


Choosing your dog’s breed, at any age, is a big deal. Are you an outside person? Where will the dog live and sleep? Are you in an apartment? What’s your weather like in your location? These and more are all questions that you must ask yourself before selecting your new dog’s breed.

Of course, selecting a mutt is the easy way out, but even mutts (defined as dogs with multiple breed lineage) might have certain proclivities. Many dog breeds are known for very specific and nuanced traits and characteristic that makes choosing the breed incredibly important.

For example, do you live in a small space that needs to be quiet? You might want to avoid a hound dog or a beagle as those dogs are watch dogs that bellow loudly when they perceive an intruder nearby. These intruders, in any new environment, will be everyone from the mailman to the neighbor. Live in a warm climate? Choosing a dog that sheds its hair in warm climates might be a deal breaker, no matter how adorable she is. Thankfully, there are dozens of “what kind of dog should I choose” quizzes on the internet that ask you the questions that you need to be asked when considering adopting a dog. From exercise to noise, from grooming to lifespan, from vet bills to food, it’s important to understand what you’re getting yourself into before you adopt.

Caring for your dog’s eyes and ears

Eye boogers are the worse! So are black gunk in the ears. It’s incredibly important to keep an eye on your dog’s eyes and ears to ensure that your pup feels comfortable and stays healthy.  

The eyes

Just like people, dogs’ sight changes with age. And, just like people, eye health declines with age. While a young pup might not have a ton of eye boogies, older dogs do. Wiping a dog’s eyes everyday or every other day can prevent a lot of eye issues associated with bacteria and infections. Eye burgers can carry bacteria, just like anything else the pup comes into contact with. It’s a simple exercise that you can do with your fingers or with wipes, but it’s an important exercise to ensure the dog’s eye health long term .

The ears

Dogs’ ears are easily infected. Whether it’s the equivalent of swimmer’s ear, dirt, or something else, dogs’ ears often get black and gooey. This is not good! To avoid constant ear infections, it’s critical to use some apparatus to clean them. You can use a cue tip, your finger, or something more fancy that your vet recommends to clean your dog's ears, and you should do this very regularly. Think about cleaning your dog’s ears and your dog’s eyes are weekly duties, at the latest. Clean ears lead to a healthy, long life.

Caring for your dog’s fur

Many dogs shed. Some don’t. Either way, taking care of your dog’s fur is important to maintain the dog’s health. There are a few major ways to care for your dog’s fur: brush, cut, and wash. Dogs get dandruff, and they get infections. Dogs are prone to mange and other skin issues that directly relate to caring for their fur.   

Brushing the fur

You should regularly brush your dog’s hair. It sounds like “no kidding,” but it’s really easy to forget. Put it on the calendar. Set reminders. Get a brush that has both a fine comb and a coarse comb. Start with the coarse comb and brush your dog’s hair gently. It’ll take a while, especially if your dog has curly hair. The first few times might be uncomfortable for your dogs, but it ends up being a massage for them.

Going first with the coarse brush allows you to take care of the dirt and grime from general daily play. These long brush strokes, starting at the head and going towards the rear, should take about ten minutes (depending on the size of your dog). It will definitely take longer the first time as you get through all the knots. It’s like your hair, keeping it brushed keeps it healthy! Similarly, when going with the fine brush, your looking to take care of the skin more than anything. A fine-toothed brush comb gets rid of old, dead skin, and it gets fur to that fresh shine after the next step.

Washing the fur

We need to wash our dog’s fur regularly. Too much, and you risk the skin drying out and skin cells dying and flaking. Too little, and you risk bringing pests, critters, bugs, and just gross outside things into your house, and worse, your bed. Many vets suggest that a monthly wash is good for your pup’s fur health, though it can be more or less often depending on how often your dog is exposed to outside elements. If you regularly take your dog out in the mud, on hikes, to the beach, or just outside in the wilderness, more regular baths could be called for. If your dog only goes when it has to because you have Patio Pet Life biodegradable grass on your fiftieth floor apartment balcony, baths can come less often. Either way, put regular baths on the calendar and be sure to bathe your pup to keep clean fur.

Are haircuts right for your pup?

Haircuts are tough. Some vets believe that long dog hair can cause problems. Others believe that because most dogs shed, there’s no reason to cut a dog’s hair. Non-shedding dogs, conversely require haircuts. This may all be well and good, but it’s also a personal decision. Some owners believe that long hair in the summer, even long shedding hair, requires a haircut so the pup doesn’t get too hot. A lot of owners shave their dogs during the summer, and it’s a personal decision. It’s worth considering if you notice extra panting during the heat, but keep in mind that dogs can get sunburnt too! Even though you can choose to cut your dog’s hair, your dog’s fur keeps the sun at bay. Just remember that the decision to cut a pup’s fur is also a decision to put the dog at risk for sunburn and to expose the pup to elements that the breed is not used to. Dogs evolved with certain fur length and density for a reason, so keep that in mind!