Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hip Dog Bandanas and Tees from Bauhound

Hip Dog Bandanas and Tees from Bauhound

Brooklyn-based dog outfitters Bauhound recently added some colorful new accessories to their collection. Like the pompom sweaters we’ve featured before, these new threads are bright, modern, and bold — just the way we like it! Currently, there are three t-shirt designs to choose from, each featuring hand-illustrated lettering, as well as five rad bandana styles. Shop the complete Bauhound collection at www.bauhound.com.

Hip Dog Bandanas and Tees from Bauhound

Hip Dog Bandanas and Tees from Bauhound

Hip Dog Bandanas and Tees from Bauhound


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© 2017 Dog Milk | Posted by capree in Clothing | Permalink | No comments

Can Dogs Cry and What Exactly Is Dog Crying?

Canine communication is one of the most fascinating and confounding facets of our lives with dogs. They may not possess the means or ability to produce articulate speech, but dogs are as communicative in their way as any human, and more honest. Whether it’s body language, tail movement and position, staring, or making a wide range of vocalizations, our dogs are almost always telling us something. It seems easy to recognize when a dog is happy; but do we recognize when they are sad, grieving, or in pain with such facility? Can dogs cry and what exactly happens with dog crying?

On the surface, these are simple questions, but also ones that are worth giving some serious thought to. In the absence of a universal dog translator, dog owners are left to wonder and speculate upon how to interpret dog behavior. Is it accurate to equate phenomena like whimpering, whining, or howling with human expressions like bawling or weeping? A more penetrating or precise question might be, “Can dogs cry tears like humans?” Do dogs perform and vocalize pain, loneliness or grief through their tear ducts in the same ways as their owners?

A small dog who looks like he's crying.

This is what it sounds like when dogs cry. Photography via Pixabay.

Let’s start with the basics on dog crying and go from there:

  • Do dogs have tear ducts?
  • Can dogs cry emotional tears?
  • Are whimpering, howling, or whining similar to crying?
  • Do dogs respond to our tears?

Do dogs have tear ducts?

Absolutely. Anyone who owns a light- or white-coated dog — the Bichon-Frises, Maltese, and Poodles of the world among them— can easily attest that dogs do indeed have tear ducts. They know because the phenomenon of tear staining that develops with age is effectively written on the body. Tear staining is also known as epiphora, a condition in which dogs experience excessive tear production. For dogs whose tears are less conspicuous, what role do tear ducts and the liquids they produce serve?

Practically any animal with eyes has lacrimal ducts, commonly called tear ducts. Dog eyes certainly excrete tears, and they perform the same range of practical purposes as they do in humans. There are three primary categories of tears; both human and dog eyes produce two of them: basal and reflexive. Basal tears are produced and released constantly, but very slowly. They keep the eyes moist. Reflexive tears offer ocular protection, and flow more quickly in response to the presence of irritants and allergens. These dog tears keep eyes clear of obstructions and flush away foreign objects.

Can dogs cry emotional tears?

Having just surveyed two of the three kinds of tears, what is the third? In humans, the third major variety of tears are known as psych tears, or emotional tears. These are the very ones we’re here to investigate dog crying. Emotional tears are produced more suddenly and in greater volume that either basal or reflexive ones, and generally arise during moments of great emotion. Can dogs cry in response to emotional stimuli in the same way as we do? It’s an important distinction, and our curiosity leads us to distinguish between biological necessity, and what we might refer to as “real” tears.

A white dog with tear stains.

Epiphora is a medical condition that gives the impression that a dog is crying. Photography via Wikimedia Commons.

Does dog crying ever signify distress, sympathy, or pain? The answer is complex and unsatisfactory for those of us who want to see our life experience mirrored by our dogs. In his preface to the second edition of the “Lyrical Ballads” (1801), William Wordsworth famously defined poetry as the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” which also serves as a succinct expression of how and why humans weep. Canine tear ducts do not function in this way, nor for the same reasons. While the outward manifestation of emotion we associate with crying is not found in dogs, this does not mean that dogs are stoic or unmoved. They simply experience and express those emotional states in different ways.

Are whimpering, howling or whining similar dog crying?

Dog vocalizations like whimpering, howling and whining are frequently linked in the popular imagination to canine emotional states. An obvious place to start is the experience and expression of pain. According to Dogster’s resident veterinarian, Dr. Eric Barchas, however, these vocal expressions, whining in particular, are not necessarily or directly related. Certainly, in the exact moment of pain — a paw stepped on by accident, for example— dogs’ instinctive reactions are similar to our own. A dog thus startled may emit a sudden yelp or yip, but won’t do it repeatedly or regularly in response to long-term or chronic pain.

For dogs, barking, whining, whimpering, and howling tend to be oriented toward expressions of need or having distinct desires met. Dog vocalizations are, by and large, communicative rather than emotional. Dogs whine and whimper when they want food or exercise. They bark and howl when they sense strangers or perceive threats. There is reason to be suspicious of these vocalizations, though. Dogs learn behaviors, after all. When they discover that making certain noises yields desired results, it can become not only repetitive, but manipulative. It is safe to say that howls, whines, and whimpers are similar, but not equivalent to human crying.

Do dogs respond to our tears?

Human babies and children learn behaviors, too. Their cries, wails, and screams — especially noticeable and grating in public places — can be as self-serving as those of dogs, if seemingly more interminable. Because dogs don’t express grief, sorrow, longing, loss, rage or joy through their tear ducts, that doesn’t mean they are stoic or emotionless. We know that dogs suffer negatively from separation anxiety, fear and stress. I can speak from personal experience that dogs do respond when their humans are in distress.

A Bulldog in the rain looking sad and crying.

What we call crying in dogs is similar, but not identical, to human tears. Photography by Shutterstock.

I once incurred a pair of severe and painful injuries — a torn ACL and meniscus in my right knee — as a result of a particularly intense performance at karaoke. I managed to make it home that night, and at the very moment I opened my car door, I heard my dog make the most curious noise. It wasn’t a whimper or a whine, but a vocalization somewhere between them; it was certainly mournful and empathetic. I never heard her make a sound like it before, and I never heard it again. I knew that she knew that I was in great physical pain.

Share your experiences of dog affect!

Whenever I think of Tina, the memory of that sound is the first thing that rises to mind. It lasted only a few moments, very unlike the crying I did before surgery and during extensive rehab, but it was powerful and affecting. Our dogs are such huge parts of our lives. We certainly mourn them when they pass away, and their memories stay with us.

Have you had experiences similar to mine, when you were just certain, no matter how brief or ephemeral, that your dogs expressed grief or concern in a way that seemed to echo human crying? Share your experiences with dog crying in the comments!

Thumbnail: Photography by Shutterstock.

Read more about dog eye issues on Dogster.com:

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9 Reasons to Love Bullmastiffs

Bullmastiffs are the perfect example of a gentle giant in the dog world: muscular and powerful, yet faithful and kind unless provoked. He is an English creation that has found a loyal following in this country. Here are 9 fun factoids about the strong and silent Bullmastiff.

A close up of a Bullmastiff.

A close up of a Bullmastiff. Photography by DNSPhotography/Thinkstock.

1. Bullmastiffs were developed for a need

What we know of the Bullmastiff’s history dates back to mid-19th century England. Gamekeepers needed a dog that would help them rid the large estates and game preserves of poachers; one that could cover ground quietly and pin the trespassers without harming them. Breeders crossed the Mastiff with the now-extinct Old English Bulldog to ultimately come up with the Bullmastiff.

2. They’re a blend of Mastiffs and Bulldogs perfect recipe

The Bullmastiff represents an ideal blend of 60 percent Mastiff and 40 percent Bulldog. The gamekeepers’ goal was to create a dog that was faster and more aggressive than the Mastiff, yet bigger and less ferocious than the Old English Bulldog.

3. Bullmastiffs are very adaptable

This is a sizeable breed, with adult males reaching a height of 25 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing 110 to 130 pounds; females reaching a height of 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weighing 100 to 120 pounds. Yet Bullmastiffs are mellow and laid-back, not requiring much grooming or exercise, and they make wonderful companions for urban owners, adapting well even to apartment living. They are quiet dogs and rarely bark.

4. They’ve got great temperaments

The breed standard for the Bullmastiff describes its temperament as “fearless and confident yet docile. The dog combines the reliability, intelligence and willingness to please required in a dependable family companion and protector.” They are a lovely companion to live with, gentle with the smallest child yet exuding an air of protective authority.

A Bullmastiff sizes up against a young girl.

A Bullmastiff sizes up against a young girl. Photography by Eduard Ly Senko/Thinkstock.

5. Bullmastiffs are very easy to train

Bullmastiffs are powerful dogs, yet sensitive. Given the breed’s strength and inclination to be independent, early socialization and training are essential. Bullmastiffs are natural guardians of their people and property. No guard training is necessary; a Bullmastiff will respond appropriately if its family is threatened.

6. They come in a few different colors

The most common color seen in Bullmastiffs is fawn with a black face mask. Bullmastiffs also come in darker red shades. Brindle Bullmastiffs have black stripes over a fawn or red background. Although they are less often seen today, the dark brindles were preferred by the gamekeepers who created the breed. The stripes provided the dogs with better camouflage, particularly at night, hence the breed’s nickname of Gamekeeper’s Night Dog.

7. Bullmastiffs have shorter life spans

For all the Bullmastiff’s virtues as a devoted companion and guardian, he shares with many other large- and giant-sized breeds the heartbreak of a shorter life span. While there are exceptions, a Bullmastiff typically lives for 7 to 8 years.

8. The Rocky movies popularized Bullmastiffs

Many dog-loving movie fans got their first look at a Bullmastiff in Sylvester Stallone’s original Rocky. The down-and-out boxer had a Bullmastiff sidekick. Interestingly, it was Sly Stallone’s own dog, Butkus.

9. Other celebrity Bullmastiffs

Singer and songwriter Bob Dylan owned a Bullmastiff, Brutus, who appeared regularly with him. In the reality TV series Little People Big World, the Roloff family owned a Bullmastiff named Rocky. And in the world of sports, the Cleveland Browns football team has a Bullmastiff named Swagger as its live mascot.

Thumbnail: Photography by CynoClub/Thinkstock.

Read more about dog breeds on Dogster.com:

Allan Reznik is a journalist, editor and broadcaster who specializes in dog-related subjects. He is the editor-in-chief of Dogs in Review and the former editor of Dog Fancy magazine. A city dweller all his life, on both coasts, he now enjoys the rural South with his Afghan Hounds, Tibetan Spaniels and assorted rescues.

The post 9 Reasons to Love Bullmastiffs appeared first on Dogster.

What You Need to Know About Dog Flu — Prevention and Treatment

As a veterinarian with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the mother of two young children, I’m busy 24-7. To keep the family machine running smoothly, I record everyone’s daily activities in my iPhone and hope for no slip ups; missing a karate class can be catastrophic to a 5- and 7-year-old. However, when it comes to health, I’m hypervigilant; sickness can derail a smooth-running train. That’s why I’m first in line every fall for a flu shot. And so are my dogs. The canine influenza vaccine (or simply called dog flu) is important if your dog comes in contact with other dogs. The virus is spread when respiratory secretions are exchanged among dogs who are barking, sneezing, or coughing. Outbreaks occur year-round but tend to spike during months when families travel with their pets and board them.

The two strains of dog flu

There are two strains of dog flu in this country. H3N8 reared its head in 2004 on Greyhound racetracks in Florida. It spread like wildfire until a vaccine was developed.

More recently, in spring 2015, the Asian-born H3N2 clobbered Chicago. Unfortunately, there was no vaccine to protect against the strain.

When the outbreak hit, veterinary hospitals were packed to capacity with sick dogs. Some came in coughing, others had labored breathing. Dogs were tired and had mucus dripping from their eyes and nose. The sickest dogs experienced all these signs. Veterinarians faced the challenge of treating the sick dogs while not infecting the healthy ones.

In the epicenter of the outbreak, Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer of the American Kennel Club and seasoned emergency clinician in Chicago, also emphasized that the outbreak “encouraged cooperation among area hospitals as we tried to share data, follow best practices, secure space for dogs that needed hospitalization and educate pet owners about what was happening.”

Another noted Chicago veterinarian, Dr. Natalie Marks, co-owner of AAHA-accredited Blum Animal Hospital, recalled the outbreak of dog flu:

“It was controlled chaos in our hospital. We evaluated all patients in exam rooms instead of in the treatment area where we keep our equipment in an effort to avoid contaminating dogs who were visiting for regular checkups. If patients had a normal appetite, body temperature, oxygen level and energy level, we managed them as outpatients. However, if they had a fever, were vomiting, not eating, or were incredibly lethargic, we began in-hospital therapy until their stability level met our criteria for outpatient care.” The critically ill received oxygen therapy, IV fluids, and antibiotics to protect against bacterial invaders taking advantage of weakened lungs.

A dog receiving oxygen therapy.

A dog receiving oxygen therapy. Photography courtesy AAHA/Robin Baker.

So many questions about the dog flu

Chicago pet owners whose dogs received the flu diagnosis were exploding with questions. My childhood friend, Kathleen, was one of them. (When you’re a vet, friends will seek your advice during a crisis!) She texted me about her Labrador mix, Winnie, who was being treated as an outpatient. Here were her concerns and my text responses, plus updates of what we know now:

Can I catch H3N2 from Winnie?
As far as we know, H3N2 does not infect people.

Can Winnie infect my cat?
Probably not, but we’re not sure yet. (Update: Reports now indicate that cats can be infected with H3N2; several in Midwest shelters have contracted it.)

She’s keeping us up all night with her coughing. How can I make it stop?
There’s no easy solution to quell the coughing, but ask your vet about cough suppressants. Bringing up mucous and phlegm is actually a GOOD thing. You can encourage this by using a humidifier to moisten her airways. My personal favorite? Keep her in the bathroom with the door closed while you shower. The warm, wet air will help her to cough up the mucous.

She’s supposed to go back to doggie daycare next week. Is that OK?
Actually, no. You should wait until her cough has disappeared completely. (Update: Because so little was known about H3N2, veterinarians made educated guesses. Now we know that coughing dogs can spread the disease for roughly three weeks and should be isolated from other dogs for that length of time.) In Chicago, Dr. Marks reminded the pet parents of her recovering patients to stay clear of communal areas, including “dog parks, elevators in high-rises, friends’ homes and places of work.”

Where will dog flu hit next?

Though we haven’t had any reported cases of H3N2 at the hospital where I practice in New Jersey, my pet parents continue to ask questions: “Will it hit our area?” “Can a dog die from it?” Reports show that 80 percent of dogs exposed to H3N2 get sick from it. The remaining 20 percent don’t get sick but harbor the virus and can spread it. The percentage of dogs who die from the disease is less than 10 percent.

In November 2015, the H3N2 vaccine was developed, and the virus has traveled to more than 30 states. It could continue to spread if pet owners don’t vaccinate their dogs.

So, what’s a pet parent to do about the dog flu?

If your dog exhibits signs of dog flu, visit your veterinary practice immediately. If the vet suspects H3N2, he may swab your dog’s nasal passage or extract a vial of blood for diagnosis. Many signs associated with dog flu, like coughing, lethargy and eye and nose discharge, are also indicators of other illnesses. Coughing is almost always serious; your dog could be suffering from a number of diseases including heart failure, heartworms and “kennel” cough.

Do you know the dog flu symptoms?

Thousands of dogs have contracted H3N2. Could yours be next? If your dog is lethargic, coughing, sneezing, or has a runny nose and eyes, he could have dog flu. The best way to help prevent dog flu is to vaccinate against it. Less than 10 percent of dogs suffering from H3N2 will die.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in our magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.

The post What You Need to Know About Dog Flu — Prevention and Treatment appeared first on Dogster.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Magisso Self-Cooling Ceramic Pet Bowls

Magisso Self-Cooling Ceramic Pet Bowls

Magisso, an award-winning housewares brand based in Finland, is bringing their clean and modern design aesthetic to the dogs! Their Happy Pet Project collection launched this year and includes self-cooling ceramic water bowls and slow feeders. To activate the unique self-cooling properties, simply soak the ceramic bowl in cool water for about 60 seconds — the cooling effect will last several hours!

Magisso Self-Cooling Ceramic Pet Bowls

Magisso Self-Cooling Ceramic Pet Bowls

Each Happy Pet Project bowl is available in 3 sizes and your choice of blue, pink, or black. Look for the Happy Pet Project collection to hit retailers soon. In the meantime, you can snag these bowls on Amazon.

Magisso Self-Cooling Ceramic Pet Bowls


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© 2017 Dog Milk | Posted by capree in Dining | Permalink | No comments

Babies and Dogs — 20 Tips for Introducing Your Dog to Your Newborn Baby

Snuggled. Spoiled. Doted upon. Loved within an inch of her life. Our dog, Finley, is truly our baby. She’s been my constant companion and the apple of my husband’s eye for the past two years. But we’re about to welcome a newborn human into our home and have heard that babies and dogs can be a tricky combination.

We’ve been bracing ourselves for the transition over the past seven months, but quickly realized that crossing our fingers and hoping for the best wouldn’t be enough. Taking a proactive approach, we registered for a “bringing a baby home” class with Jeris and Eve Pugh, owners of The Martial Arfs, to learn all about introducing a new family member when a furry, four-legged one has gotten used to being the center of attention.

A close up photo of a Vizsla dog.

Our first child, Finley. Photography by Whitney C. Harris.

We soon discovered that once an infant enters the picture, everything changes. And that can be especially stressful for the family pet. An animal you might otherwise trust — much like our sweet, sensitive Finley — can become anxious or aggressive and act out in fear. In fact, many dogs you wouldn’t normally consider very threatening — from a Papillon to a Lab — have all appeared in police reports for fatally wounding children.

The thought of our cherished Vizsla attacking our new baby was upsetting of course, but also eye-opening. That’s the kind of worst-case scenario most people prefer not to think about, but there are lessons to be learned from such incidents. Here are our 20 takeaways about mixing babies and dogs:

1. Bring your dog to the vet

A vet examining a large dog.

Schedule a visit to the vet for before the baby arrives. Veterinarian examining dog. Photography by Shutterstock.

Jeris and Eve suggest requesting a full exam with bloodwork to make sure your dog isn’t experiencing any undiagnosed health problems. Managing both a newborn and a dog with a serious health issue can be especially challenging and time consuming, so it’s better to know what you’re dealing with ahead of time. Even though Finley seems relatively healthy, we’ll still get her checked about a month before the baby is due.

2. Desensitize your dog to new sights, sounds and smells

Turn on the infant swing, put up baby gates around the house and go for walks with the stroller. Play baby sounds like crying and cooing. Use baby lotion on your skin. Start carrying around a baby doll. Slowly introduce new stimuli before the baby arrives. Gradually making changes in advance will help manage your dog’s stress levels.

3. Keep all baby and dog toys separate

Better yet, teach your dog the “leave it” command. Do this well ahead of time so you’re not trying to train your pup when you have a newborn around. Finley is fairly good at leaving items alone but has a hard time giving something up once it’s in her possession — something we need to work on.

A Chihuahua puppy with a toy.

Dog toys and baby toys are often hard to tell apart, especially for the little ones. Chihuahua puppy with toy. Photography by Shutterstock.

4. Let babies and dogs mix beforehand

Try to recruit nieces, nephews and children around the neighborhood for short-and-sweet visits. We’ve been walking Finley through the park and near playgrounds where kids are running around and making noise.

5. Reduce activity levels

Inevitably, your dog’s physical and mental needs are not going to be met as readily as they were pre-baby. So we’ve tested out how Finley fares with reduced activity before the baby comes. Some days she’s fine, others she’s visibly frustrated. We’re getting her accustomed to less attention and activity overall.

6. Establish a baby-free zone for your dog

This can be a crate, a corner of the house or an entire room if there’s space. For us, this is the basement where Finley is free to roam and hang out with her toys and treasures sans crying baby.

A Vizsla dog in her crate, wearing a Thundershirt.

Finley relaxes in her crate. Photography by Whitney C. Harris.

7. Practice closing your dog out of certain rooms

You may need to keep your dog out of the baby’s room, your bedroom, or any other area where your little one is sleeping, playing or eating. Getting Finley used to closed doors isn’t easy. She always wants to be part of the action, but practice makes perfect.

And now, let’s talk about making the introduction.

8. Exhaust your pooch first

When you first come home, your dog should be mentally and physically exhausted so their energy level is nice and low. Hire a dog walker or ask a close friend or relative to exercise your pooch an hour before you’re due to arrive home. For us, Finley will likely have spent a day or two at doggy daycare prior to our return home — more than enough to exhaust her.

A Vizsla running in a park.

Finley will get plenty of playtime before we bring the baby home. Photography by Whitney C. Harris.

9. Don’t rush things

Many new parents are in a hurry to get the dog and baby together as one big happy family. But the introduction should be slow and gradual. Your dog can see the baby more and more often, but they shouldn’t necessarily interact on a regular basis until boundaries are set and everyone is comfortable with how things are going.

10. Invite a sniff between the dog and baby

Once your dog seems at ease with the newest family members, try offering the baby’s feet for a little sniff. Keep interactions brief and positive with plenty of treats.

11. Always know where your dog is in the house

Be aware that your dog may be able to get into the baby’s crib. Closely monitor your pup in the nursery to make sure curiosity doesn’t take over. I have no doubt that Finley would jump into the baby’s crib given the chance, which is why she will never be left alone with the baby or in the nursery unsupervised.

A Vizsla near a dog bed.

Finley might think the baby’s bed looks more comfy. Photography by Whitney C. Harris.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind:

12. Your dog still needs some attention

Find out whether your dog benefits from 15 minutes of your intense focus or a little play throughout the day. As expected, dogs with more energy (looking at you, Finley) will present larger challenges, and you might want to consider a dog walker or daycare for some help. The same goes for smart dogs and attention seekers. Puzzles and games help to occupy a needy dog.

13. Don’t scold or punish

If your dog exhibits unwanted behavior, don’t yell at her and create bad associations between the baby and punishment. Instead, ignore the bad behavior, which is what we already do with our pup.

14. Do not give in to attention-seeking behavior

If your dog barks to be petted, ignore her. Remember not to scold or punish; simply ignore any efforts to get your attention.

15. Make eye-contact happen between babies and dogs (and other guests!)

It’s important that your dog practice a lot of eye contact with people because babies and toddlers are at the pet’s eye-level. Anyone who visits our home will be asked to make eye contact with Finley first.

A baby in a basket next to a dog.

Your dog and baby will make a lot of eye contact when they’re at the same level. Baby and dog. Photography by Shutterstock.

16. Plan a safe feeding space for your baby

If you always cuddled with Fido on the couch, don’t use that same spot to feed your newborn. We plan on using a glider in the nursery for most of our newborn’s feedings. We also learned to feed Finley during one of the feeding times to create positive associations.

17. Keep faces apart

Your dog may love licking your newborn’s sweet, milk-dribbled face. But it’s safer not to let the dog and baby faces get too close. There could be too much excitement, the baby could laugh or scream; there are too many unknowns.

18. Recognize your dog’s anxiety cues

A concerned dog has his ears back, looks away and licks his lips. If your dog exhibit these signs, bring him to a safe space away from the baby.

A white dog with a baby.

If your dog looks anxious around the baby, let them seek refuge in their safe space. Dog with baby. Photography by Shutterstock.

And lastly, don’t forget:

19. One at a time

Don’t ask the same person to watch babies and dogs at the same time. It’s too much at once.

20. Dogs can sense our anxiety

Don’t be afraid of the new situation, but take the proper precautions.

What do you think about dogs and babies? Have you ever brought home a new baby when you already had a dog? How did it go? Tell us your tips and experiences in the comments.

Read more about babies and dogs on Dogster.com: 

About the author: Whitney C. Harris is a New York-based freelance writer for websites including StrollerTraffic, Birchbox and WhattoExpect.com. A former book and magazine editor, she enjoys running (with Finley), watching movies (also with Finley), and cooking meatless meals (usually with Finley watching close by).

The post Babies and Dogs — 20 Tips for Introducing Your Dog to Your Newborn Baby appeared first on Dogster.

Pre-Adoption Checklist: Are You Really Ready to Adopt a Dog?

There are few things in life as rewarding as adopting a dog, but it’s a commitment of 10 to 15 years and many factors come into play. Scores of dogs end up in shelters every year because pet parents didn’t fully consider factors such as money, time commitments and other family members. We’ve asked some experts to help devise a pre-adoption checklist to find out — are you really ready to adopt a dog?

A dog relaxing on a gray couch.

A dog relaxing on a gray couch. Photography by adogslifephoto/Thinkstock.

1. Do you know what it costs to adopt a dog?

Beyond the adoption fees, which can run anywhere from $5 to $500, there’s the yearly cost of caring for a dog — which is an estimated $650. This includes food, heart worm prevention and flea and tick medications. That figure doesn’t account for dog walkers, pet-sitting services or emergency vet visits.

Dr. Justin Molnar, medical director at Shinnecock Animal Hospital says, “I recommend that new dog owners have at least $1,000 available to them in case of medical emergencies. Of course, it varies from area to area, but a serious injury is expensive regardless of where you live.”

2. Do you actually have enough time to commit to a dog?

Are you looking at the bigger picture and ready to take the time to adjust your latest charge to his new digs? Whether you’re adopting a rambunctious puppy or a sweet senior, every dog needs training — from a young pup who requires complete housetraining to an older canine who just doesn’t know your routine yet. And, depending on the dog, walks will range from 10 minutes to multiple hours per day.

From training to exercise, every new dog is a serious time commitment. Jean Keating, executive director of Lucas County Pit Crew, says, “People have to understand that dogs do not come with the knowledge of how to successfully live in a family home. Those skills have to be taught to them through the building of a relationship and relationships take time.”

3. Is there any chance you’ll have to move or change jobs?

The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said, “change is the only constant in life.” From antiquity to modern times, this statement holds true. Your work and home life might be stable now, but a dog is a 10-to-15-year commitment. Your entire life can be greatly altered with one career change.

Are you ready to take your dog with you if you have to move? And what happens if your career gets demanding and you have to hire a dog walker — are you willing and able to pay extra for pet care?

4. Is there any potential for people or other pets to develop an issue with the new dog?

Take a good long look at your circumstances. Who else will be sharing the space with your dog? Has that person — or pet — lived peacefully and healthfully with other dogs before?

Michele Forrester, senior director of operations of Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, says, “Sometimes [dogs are returned] after they are in the home for a while and a family member finds that they have developed allergies to the pet and they don’t take the proper steps to manage the situation. Or [they’re returned] when a food guarding or a toy issue that wasn’t evident during our mandatory meet and greet with their existing pet occurs.” If you are certain you have the ways and means to handle any unexpected issues, then you’re ready to adopt a dog.

5. Are you ready to be selfless?

It’s easy to walk your dog on a sunny Saturday afternoon. But what about at 3 a.m. on a snowy Wednesday night? Dogs are demanding of your time and resources, even when you don’t feel like it. They’re a big responsibility and sometimes an inconvenient one, especially when all your friends are road-tripping for the weekend and your pet sitter is out of town.

For potential first-time dog guardians, if you can pass up some of your previous lifestyle choices because you’ve got a new full-time dependent, then you’re ready to adopt a dog. For those not 100 percent sure, fostering a dog is a good way to learn if you’re ready.

There’s so much more to dog guardianship than unconditional patience and love. If you’ve answered “yes” to the questions in the checklist above, you are ready to adopt a dog. Now all that’s left is finding the right dog for you!

Thumbnail: Photography by GeorgeRudy/Thinkstock.

Read more about dog adoption on Dogster.com:

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