Let’s face it: in the U.S. we have a lot of questionable “official celebration” days. Do we really need a National Cream Puff Day? Or a National Repeat Day? However, National Puppy Day... that makes total sense!
March 23 is the day that’s been set aside to promote the adoption of puppies, which is a worthy cause considering how many of them are awaiting homes in animal shelters across the country. Adopting a puppy saves his or her life, and can greatly enrich your own. As British philosopher Bernard Williams once said: “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”Four things you should know before getting your new best friend. Click To Tweet
However, if you’ve never owned a dog before and you’re thinking of taking the plunge into puppy love on National Puppy Day, you should know a few things about pet ownership and puppies.
Adopt, don’t buy
With literally millions of animals waiting for homes in shelters across the country, you never need to buy a puppy. You can find plenty of wonderful mixed-breed pups in virtually any shelter.
Be aware pet store puppies can sometimes come from puppy mills. They may have undiscovered health problems caused by irresponsible breeding. Plus, buying a puppy costs a lot more than adopting one.
Want a pup of a specific breed? Plenty of breed-specific rescue organizations can help you find the puppy of your dreams. Just do an online search for the breed of your choice and “rescue organization” to find one in your area. You can also contact your local animal shelter and ask them to keep an eye out for a specific breed. They'll let you know if an animal comes in that fits what you’re looking for.
Puppy love isn’t free
The rewards of pet ownership can be great, but so can the costs. While adopting a puppy is typically cheaper than buying one from a breeder, it still can cost a few hundred dollars upfront. This fee is called an adoption fee and typically goes towards expenses incurred by the shelter while caring for the dog, as well as, preparing the puppy to come home with you. Here's what your adoption fees cover:
- Spay or neutering
- Initial vaccinations
- Color and ID tag
- Flea/tick treatment
- Heatworm test
You’ll also need to buy leashes, collars, beds, toys, training items, preventive medications, and more. You may even have to fence your yard depending on the breed.
Come prepared by setting up a "doggie" savings account a few months before you plan on adopting your dog. Each month, contribute $50-$75 to it, so that upfront costs don't drain your budget.Puppy love isn't free. But it sure is beautiful. What you need to know before bringing your pup home. Click To Tweet
Neither is puppy food
Just like growing children, your puppy will come home with an appetite. According to Petfinder, puppy food could cost you up to $500 in the first year. This doesn't include treats, routine veterinary care, annual vaccinations, and grooming, which are more in the range of $200 annually.
There are cheaper options for pet food, but be sure to get approval from your veterinarian before buying it.
Don't forget about training
Training your pup isn't always a walk in the park. Depending on the breed, your living situation, and previous owners, your dog could need training. This isn't always cheap, so do research ahead (and budgeting) ahead of time.
The type and frequency of dog trainings range in cost.
An in-store training, like one offered at PetSmart, will run you $119 for a 6-month class. While private at-home trainings can cost up to $100/hour. In extreme cases, your dog might need to attend obedience boarding school, where they spend 2-4 weeks with a training facility. These can range anywhere from $900-$2,500. Woof.
While not every dog requires obedience training, it is important to plan your finances ahead of time. One way to avoid surprises like this: do your research on breed characteristics ahead of time, and be sure to ask the adoption clinic if there have been any behavioral problems in the past once you find your "royal cuteness."
Adopting a dog on Puppy Day can be a wonderful, rewarding experience, but it’s important to go into the process understanding the responsibilities and costs. In the end, you’ll be making a lifelong commitment to your new best friend. Now that’s something well worth celebrating!
Now, enjoy National Puppy Day by looking at all these little cuties!