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Do You Have Enough Energy for a Dog?

Dogs, just like people, need regular exercise to stay healthy.

Also keep in mind, a bored dog is often a destructive dog. If you don't give your new friend a good way to burn off extra energy, you may find that he takes it out on your new shoes or your flower garden.

Different types of dogs need different amounts of exercise. Regular walks around the block may be just fine for a shih tzu. But a Siberian husky or Great Dane is going to need more space to roam and someone to keep him company.

You don't have to have a big backyard if you choose a dog with lots of energy. But you should have at least one dog-friendly park or open space nearby.

Can You Afford a Dog?

The cost of taking care of your new best friend can add up. Your costs may include veterinary care, food, and boarding or pet sitting while you're away. 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals puts the average yearly cost of owning a medium-sized dog at just under $700. Bigger dogs cost a bit more; smaller dogs, a bit less.

You'll probably pay more than that during the first year, especially if you bring home a puppy, with expenses like spaying and neutering and vaccinations.

Don't cut corners. "People bring home puppies and they can't afford the parvo vaccination, and then the puppy comes down with parvo, which costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to treat," Nelson says.

What Dog Is Right for Your Family?

If you've decided that you're ready to bring home a dog, the next step is finding the right match for you and your family.

The most important thing, McConnell says, is to make sure your dog's personality matches your needs.

"People often confuse personality with breed," he says. "Even though there are some breed consistencies, every breed has different personalities within it."

You can start your search for a dog by looking for certain breeds that have characteristics you want, such as:

  • Active or mellow
  • Cuddly or independent
  • Good with kids