4 things to consider before getting a dog

Last updated: January 1

Before you welcome a dog into your family, it's important to make sure your potential four-legged friend is a good fit for you, your home and your budget.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) suggests considering factors such as how much space you have for a dog and how often you're home, as well as your personality and lifestyle when choosing a furry family member. In addition to researching different dog breeds, the ASPCA recommends asking shelter staff members whether a particular dog might fit your needs.

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Here are some things to consider before adopting a dog:

Your lifestyle

Do you want to take your dog on jogs with you, or do you have a more sedentary lifestyle? Do you want a dog that's easier to train? Or, maybe a breed that's less likely to trigger your allergies? These are just some factors to consider as you look for a dog. For example, if you can provide your dog with 45 minutes of exercise a day, and prefer a dog that will stick by your side, an English setter or Alaskan malamute may be a suitable breed for you.

Appearance and traits

Just as you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, there's more to a dog than its outward appearance — and it may affect you. Maybe you're attracted to a dog with long, soft fur. But if the dog sheds, are you ready to deal with the mess? Or, maybe you prefer a large, energetic dog — but do you have space for it to run? These are among the questions Best Friends Animal Society suggests considering before adopting a dog. A little research about what kind of care a particular dog needs can go a long way toward making sure you and your pet are a good fit.

Weather conditions

While no dog should be left outdoors all the time, some breeds are particularly sensitive to the heat and cold, Animal Planet says. The website provides tips to help keep pets comfortable while they are outside on warm and cold days. For instance, you may want to consider installing a heated dog house for the winter and making sure you have plenty of shady areas to help your dog keep cool in the summer. Consider whether you're prepared to take steps to help keep your dog comfortable in all weather conditions.

Your budget

It's important to make sure you can handle the expenses that come with dog ownership. In addition to food and basic supplies, like a leash and crate, you may have to pay for costs like training, regular grooming and routine — and perhaps emergency — vet bills, says Best Friends Animal Society. There are also factors like pet insurance to consider. Add in purchases such as dog treats and toys, and you may find that dog ownership costs thousands of dollars per year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) says.

Choosing a furry family member is a big decision. If you need further assistance, the AKC offers an online tool to help identify dog breeds that may fit your lifestyle. By doing some homework before you choose one, you can help ensure that your new best friend is right for your lifestyle.