How to Get Your First Dog

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Have you decided to get your first dog? Congratulations, this is a big step and it's important that you do it right. Decide what kind of dog is right for you and find out where to find your first dog.

  • 01 of 06

    Make Sure You're Ready to Get a Dog

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    Before go out and get a dog, it's best that you ask yourself this question first. Are you truly ready to be a dog owner? A dog is a huge responsibility and usually a 12-15 year commitment.

    This commitment is financial, emotional, and time-consuming. But dog lovers everywhere agree it's all worth it. Are you really ready? It's important that you are certain and prepared before you bring a dog into your life. This means making a budget, adjusting your lifestyle, and consulting other people in your household.

  • 02 of 06

    Decide What Kind of Dog is Right for You

    Dogs in A Row - Black and White, Different Sizes
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    There are so many types of dogs to choose from. Which one is right for you? Before you settle on a dog breed or type of mix, consider the following factors:

    • Size: Small, medium, large, or giant?
    • Age: Puppy, adult, or senior?
    • Activity Level: High energy, low-energy, or somewhere in-between?

    Each of these has pros and cons. It depends on your lifestyle and personal preference.

    Other traits to consider include grooming needs, health concerns, personality traits, ease or training and more.

    Also, ask yourself this: Do you need to get a purebred dog? If you are in love with a certain dog breed, that is understandable, Or, is a mixed-breed dog more your style? Mutts are great and definitely worth consideration.

  • 03 of 06

    Consider Adopting a Dog

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    Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue group is a great way to help a dog in need. Many homeless dogs end up euthanized while waiting for their forever homes that never come. You can make a difference in the life of one dog, and that dog will be your friend for life.

    Even if you want a certain dog breed, you might still be able to adopt one. Look for breed-specific rescue groups in your area.

    Do your research in advance what to expect from dog adoption so the process won't be too overwhelming. When it's time to make a final decision, then sign the papers, you will be well-prepared.

  • 04 of 06

    Meet Dogs for Adoption

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    Shelters and rescue groups usually have a selection of dogs of all sizes, ages, breeds, and personalities. You might even be able to find a purebred dog if you want one (look for breed-specific rescue groups.) 

    Most cities and towns have numerous dog shelters and rescue groups. Where to begin? If you know the kind of dog you want, it may be helpful to look on a website like Petfinder.com to help you narrow down the list to a few locations.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Find a Responsible Dog Breeder

    Newborn Puppies
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    Do you have your heart set on a specific dog breed? Perhaps you have decided that you want a puppy with a well-established pedigree. You want to know all about the puppy's parents and have papers to prove the dog's bloodline. 

    If this sounds like you, then it's essential to find a responsible dog breeder. Avoid backyard breeders. Arm yourself with knowledge so you can feel confident that the breeder has done everything possible to breed healthy, well-adjusted puppies. 

  • 06 of 06

    Avoid the Wrong Places to Look for a Dog

    puppy in cage - sad caged puppy
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    There are certain places you should beware of when looking for a dog. Sadly, unscrupulous people try to make money by cutting corners, causing harm to dogs in the process. Others mean well and just want to give away a dog, but that dog might have problems.

    Avoid buying a dog through online classified ads, pet shops, or flea markets. These are often dogs from puppy mills. At the very least, they may have major health issues. When you buy from a shady source, you are keeping irresponsible people in business. Unless you know the dog is with a legitimate adoption group or you are familiar with the dog's seller and history, it's best to steer clear of these situations.

Next: A Beginner's Guide to Caring for Your First Dog

After finding your new best friend, it's time to get ready for the world of dog ownership.