Ask the Swag Gal – October 19, 2011

Today’s question comes from a Swaggernaut looking into expanding her family:

“My husband and I are thinking about getting a dog, and would really like to adopt one from the humane society, but aren’t sure what qualities to be looking for in a pet before we decide to take him/her home.  Do you have any advice?  Thanks!”

Getting my dog was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – she is literally my best friend.  However, the way I went about actually getting her was not one of my smartest ideas.  I made an impulse decision and thought about getting a dog, visited a pet shop, and purchased her all in the course of about two hours.  Although my little pup is the love of my life, I do not recommend following the steps I took when considering bringing a new, four-legged addition into your home.  Having a dog is a 15 year investment.  It will literally become a new family member in your life that you’ll need to be there for and care for every single day.

Before you run out to Dogs-R-Us, there are a few questions you should ask yourself that will help you determine if the time is right for you to bring a pet home.

Do your working hours allow you the time you’ll need to provide the care and exercise your dog will need every day?  I do not recommend getting a dog if you will not be around to let it out, take it for walks, and play with it every day, as just as you have necessary requirements during your day, so do animals.

Do you have children?  If so, you’ll need to find a breed that’s good with children, as well as prepare your kids for life with a dog.  There will be responsibilities (taking the dog for walks, cleaning up after it), and it will need lots of love. If your kids are very young, you’ll need to teach them how to handle the new pup carefully and gently.

Do you travel frequently?  If so, you’ll need to figure out arrangements for what you will do with your dog while you’re gone.

Do you live in an apartment complex or condominium?  If so, check with your property management to make sure they allow dogs.

After you’ve answered the preliminary questions, it’s time to start thinking about what dog is right for you.

If you work long hours, a puppy may not be the best decision.  They require a lot of attention and a lot of time.  They’ll need to be taken out every 4 to 5 hours.  If you cannot be available every 4 hours, you may want to think of adopting an adult dog looking for a loving home.  Quite often dogs are given up by their owners for various reasons and they end up in shelters needing a new home.  In many cases, these dogs are already trained and just need love.

Different dog breeds require different amounts of grooming.  Obviously shorter haired dogs don’t need to be brushed as often.  Also, if anyone in the family has allergies, make sure you determine what type of fur or hair he/she is allergic to first.  And get used to vacuuming often – dogs shed.

Different breeds also require more or less exercise.  If you have a smaller home, you may want to consider a smaller dog so they have more room to run.  If you have a big fenced-in yard, a big dog will be happy to run freely outside.

Once you determine that you’re ready to get a dog and you find the breed that is right for you, bringing home your new baby will be one of the best days of your life.  At least was for me.  Dog truly is man’s best friend!


P.S. – Send your questions to  If your question is chosen your answer will be featured in the blog and you’ll be hooked up with 150 Swag Bucks!