There has been a surge in animal adoptions ever since most of the world entered lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it was the companionship puppies offer or the comfort, happiness and love, many have started to seriously consider having a canine friend at home. But bringing a four-legged friend into your daily life is quite an investment – a pup requires a considerable amount of your time, money, energy and attention.
Here’s what to know and do before bringing Fido home.
Dig into your budget, lifestyle
Ensure that you’re ready for a puppy and everything that goes along with one.
Your new family member will need to fit into your home and budget, points out Kristen Levine, founder of the Pet Living blog.
To get in the right mindset, ask yourself questions – and be honest with your answers. Levine, who is based in Tampa, Florida, recommends these: Do you really have time for a puppy? Will your family’s lifestyle accommodate a puppy? Can you afford to feed, train and care for a puppy? And are you ready for a 12- to 15-year obligation (the potential life span of the dog)?
"Puppies ... are fun and adorable,” Levine says. "But they’re a puppy only for about a year. Then you have an animal that you are responsible for and that is completely dependent on you for everything it needs.”
Aside from the upfront cost of getting the puppy home and other one-time expenses like neutering – which will set you back anywhere from TL 470 ($67) to TL 1,390 – anticipate paying about TL 150 on average for monthly expenses in Turkey, according to fees set by the Chamber of Veterinary Specialists for the year 2020. That doesn't include food, toys or dental chews.
Find one that needs love
If you still feel like you’re ready for a dog, visit your local shelters and rescue groups so you can consider adoption first.
Through an adoption, Levine says you’re saving the life of an animal that was at some point unwanted. You’re also freeing up space for another animal to be rescued.
If you’re not ready to decide, some shelters offer foster programs. In this arrangement, you can take on the responsibility of temporarily caring for an animal until it has a permanent home.
"Oftentimes you fall in love with the animal you’re fostering and you end up keeping it, but you’re not making a commitment to keep it just because you want to foster,” Levine says.
Sniff out tricks
If you are still looking to buy instead of adopting, know that it is usually much more expensive, so research breeders thoroughly before making a purchase or putting down a nonrefundable deposit to reserve your spot in a future litter. You can look up breeders online or rely on word of mouth.
Ask potential breeders what they’ll provide you with so you can set expectations and get clear information.
Reputable breeders like to show off their puppies, so they’ll likely send pictures, take videos, talk to you on the phone and encourage you to visit in person, according to Brandi Hunter, vice president of public relations and communications at the American Kennel Club (AKC).
And if the breeder claims to have pedigree dogs, the puppies should come with paperwork, Hunter says. Make sure you get a registration certificate at the time you get the pup.
Whether you’re buying a purebred Yorkshire Terrier or a hybrid Goldendoodle, watch out for scams. To avoid being scammed, experts recommend doing a web search on any pictures the breeder sends you of the supposed puppy to ensure they’re not fake stock photos.
Don’t get reeled into a purchase decision based on the appearance of the breeder’s website. A fancy online presence isn’t an indication of whether the breeder is legit. After all, scammers will set the stage right, says Lori Wilson, president and CEO for Better Business Bureau serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California.
Perhaps most importantly, the experts say not to hand over money too soon. If you do, you might risk never seeing your deposit or payment again.
"You want to see (the puppy) first,” Hunter says. "You want to know it exists. You don’t want to be taken for a ride.”