Dog Ownership 101
February 9, 2013 5:56 PM Subscribe
What's it like to be a first-time dog owner?
posted by Sara C. to Pets & Animals (54 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
I've wanted a dog on and off for several years now, and it seems like I'm finally in a situation that will allow for it. I have my own apartment which is pretty well situated for dog ownership (small, but there's no reason a smallish dog couldn't hang). There's a yard for supervised pup hangouts. I'm in the habit of going on runs and long walks daily, so it wouldn't be too hard to fold a dog into that routine. It's also looking like the era of insane work hours away from home might be ending for me, at least temporarily, and that if I go back to a crazy 60+ hour work week, I'd be able to afford a walker.
I have a few concerns, though. Mainly that I've never had a dog before. Not even as a kid growing up. I've been around dogs as an adult, walked dogs, pet-sat for dogs, played with dogs. I'm sure I definitely want a dog. But I don't have any experience caring for one full time. Another concern is my neighborhood. A lot of people in my area let their pets wander the streets freely (I wouldn't, obviously). Most of these animals seem docile enough, but the last thing I want is my dog getting into fights on walks. There are a couple of dogs on my block who are able to get into my yard, and we also have a feral cat population.
Additionally, I notice that dogs here in LA aren't as well trained as the dogs I knew back in New York (lots of barking in my neighborhood, lots of dogs growling behind fences). I've never trained a dog before. Is this something I can do?
So OK. Let's say I get a dog. A low-maintenance dog that doesn't need a ton of exercise would be ideal. Probably on the small side. I will need to leave the dog in my (tiny) apartment for several hours a day.
I'm thinking that I'd adopt an adult dog from a local shelter. I don't care much about breed as long as the dog I end up with fits my lifestyle.
What's my game plan, here? How do I get ready for a dog? How do I find the right dog for me? What's the right timeframe for getting a first dog? Is there any non-obvious research I need to do or books I need to read right out of the gate?
If any Southern California folks are reading this, are some shelters better than others? Anything else I should know as a potential LA dog owner?