I LOVE my puppy, Finn. James and I adopted him from Baja Dog Rescue in May, and he quickly wiggled his way into our hearts. We had both wanted a dog of our own for years, but logistically/financially, it just wouldn't have worked out. When I began my career in real estate (with the flexibility to work from home), the timing seemed perfect to add a furry family member to the Aprill-Gray clan. Along came Finn, an extraordinarily sweet and loving little mutt. BUT, living in a townhouse with a puppy was such an adjustment! If you are itching for a dog, and live in a condo or townhouse, check out my best tips (based on experience!) and evaluate whether there's room in your heart and home for a fur baby.
Unfortunately, you can't just run to your nearest shelter and take home a dog! If you are renting, you must get permission from your landlord. He or she may charge you a pet deposit or even increased monthly rent. It's best to get the agreement in writing, if possible. Make sure to talk to him about what a responsible pet owner you will be, to keep damage to the condo, barking, etc. to a minimum. If you own your condo or townhouse, you'll need to reach out to your HOA to check on their pet policy. Many HOAs have restrictions about the type of dog (breed restrictions), dog weight, or number of total pets allowed per unit.
Talk to a trusted neighbor (or two) about getting a dog. Ideally, this neighbor already has a dog himself, so you can ask him for tips about where he walks the pup, what vet he uses, etc. The key here, though, is to ask the neighbor to be your ears when you are not home. Ask your neighbor to let you know ASAP if Fido is barking/whining/howling when you are not home. You'll want to remediate the noise quickly, which is hard to do if you don't know it's happening!
This is a biggie. If you work a normal 8-hour day (plus commute time), that is a very long time to leave a dog home alone. An older dog MAY be okay waiting for this long, but may need someone to let him out in the middle of the day. However, for a puppy, that's just not going to cut it. When we first got Finn, he had to go outside every 20 minutes (not an exaggeration). He's now up to 3-4 hours, which is much more reasonable. Do you have the flexibility to work from home or come home often? Do you have a friend or neighbor who can help take your pet outside during the day? Can you afford a dog walker or pet sitter for when you're at work? These are very big questions that you need to have answers to before adopting a pup!
This is probably the best advice I can give, if you want a calm and well-behaved dog at home. Finn goes to the dog park for about 2 hours every day, and he absolutely needs that time spent running around! When we get home, he sleeps and is a perfect angel. If he does not get sufficient exercise, you can return home to a destruction zone (think trashcan-diving, toilet paper eating, cat chasing, barking, furniture chewing, accidents, and more). If you like walking or jogging, that's a perfect way to tire your dog out before and after work! Dog parks, dog beaches, doggie daycare, etc. are also great. In general, an exhausted puppy is a good puppy, so spend some time thinking about whether that commitment will fit into your lifestyle.
If you have considered all of the above tips/areas of concern, and you think you're ready to add a dog to your life, go for it!!! Having a dog has honestly been so wonderful, rewarding, and fun for us. I am actually considering sending out Christmas cards next month with Finn on them, but haven't decided yet whether that's embarrassing. :)
Here are a few shameless pics of my baby: