Honestly? If you’re prepared to do what needs to be done, any time is a good time to adopt.
So what should you be prepared to do?
Housebreak. Whether you’re adopting a puppy or an adult, you still need to follow through with a housebreaking routine. Even though an adult dog may be potty trained, you are a new owner, in a new home, with a new routine, and he’s not familiar with any of it. Puppies, of course, will take longer to fully potty train. Adjusting to a new home and new people can sometimes take several weeks. You have to be prepared to be out in the Minnesota cold, whether it’s snowing, sub-zero temps or freezing rain…. When they have to go, they have to go! It might only take a few seconds, or it could be several minutes that you need to stand out with them. And yes… you need to stand with them. Praising them as soon as they begin to go is crucial to potty training! Also, keeping an eye on their stool is a good idea. Loose stools can be a sign of stomach upset from a new food or stress from trying to adapt to their new life.
Consistency. Have a routine and follow it every day. When you’re working on training, make sure you say the command the exact same way each time. Make sure you’re making sense. For example, if you tell your dog to get down (from the couch), and then lay down (on the floor)…. He’s going to get confused with the command “down”. Get “off” the couch, and lay “down” on the floor will make this situation a little easier. Each command should be very different so there isn’t any confusion.
Praise. Try training without the word “no”. When he’s doing something you’re not fond of, instead of yelling the word no, ignore him. Just about any dog I’ve ever met will work for love and attention. Praise what you want him to do, what he’s doing right, even if he’s just lying on the floor. If he’s lying on the floor, he’s not chewing your shoe, or chasing the cat. Praise him for lying there! Praise him for sitting by you when he wants to be pet, because he’s not jumping on you. Praise him for pawing at the front door when he needs to go out, because he didn’t mess on the floor. Life will be easier and less stressful for you, and more fun for him, if there’s only happy words coming from your mouth…. And treats from your hand.
Cost. According to the ASPCA, it’s estimated that people will spend anywhere from $1,314 to over $1,843 in just the first year of having a new puppy. This includes the basics… food & bowls, collar, vaccines and spay/neuter. This is just the first year! As the pup gets older, it may develop health conditions that require medication or special diets. There’s always the possibility of an emergency vet trip after an accident or injury as well.
Longevity. Most dogs live anywhere between 10-16 years. You have to be prepared to love him for the rest of his life, however long that may be, no matter what. According to the Humane Society of the United States, an average of 6-8 million dogs and cats enter shelters each year. Of those, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in those shelters. You need to be ready to commit to 16 years of loyalty and love so that he doesn’t end up as part of that statistic.
If you’re ready to follow through with these five categories, I think you’re ready for your new best friend!