So, you've decided to invite a dog to become a member of your family. It's often one of the most rewarding and even life-changing moments in your family's life together. But, it's not always without challenges and in fact, I can confidently guarantee there will be trying times. Sometimes, families who've rushed into things emotionally, have to make some hard choices.

Trouble in paradise can be avoided with some careful and thoughtful planning. That rests on your shoulders since 'Fido' doesn't really have a say in the matter and really depends upon you to make wise decisions both now and throughout their lifetime.

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I spoke with dog owners of all stripes: those who only have full breeds, to those who only have shelter dogs. I also heard from breeders, veterinarians, and animal lovers alike, who seem to agree with a few commonly held concepts. I'm presenting just some of them here.

5 THINGS YOU MUST CONSIDER BEFORE GETTING A DOG

1) Family Friendly. You must ask yourself how well you think your family will do with the dog you're considering. You'll need to understand the temperament and tendencies of the breed to know if it would likely be a good fit for your family. Do you have children? How many? How old are they? How well do they do with other pets? Asking these questions, dispassionately, and honestly, is a crucial first step to success.

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2) Doggie Needs. Again, understanding the tendencies and temperament of the dog you're considering is key. Certainly, one must consider obvious needs your dog will have such as how large are they? How much room do you have to accommodate that size? Is there plenty of room to run if this is what your dog will require? Will you have time to spend with the dog and attend to their needs?

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3) Dog Behavior. Almost any dog is trainable. When you see a dog that has behavioral issues you can usually bet the owner failed at some critical point. Often, that critical point is at the moment they considered getting a dog without doing their due diligence to find out if they were a good fit to become dog parents. Dog nuts like me believe that those furry friends are gifts from above. They depend upon us to be 'human'. Let's not fail them. Think before you adopt.

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4) Health & Care. Some breeds are more expensive than others, both at the initial purchase if that's how you acquire your new friend, or at the Vet's office if your dog becomes ill. Remember, even a perfectly healthy pooch is going to need a fair amount of 'wellness' care from the Vet and it isn't inexpensive. If you don't feel that you could do what was necessary to keep 'Spot' happy and healthy come what may - think twice.

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5) Make Sure Your Family Members Are On The Same Page. This normally means that Mom and Dad have to take the lead and be sure that the rules of dog ownership are established and followed. Everyone loves the idea of petting and loving the dog but what about the care and feeding, the bathing, the poop-scooping, the walking, the training. Everyone needs to be of one mind when it comes to launching a successful relationship with a furry friend.

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Most everyone I spoke with is in step with my own experience as a pet owner -- that a carefully crafted and followed plan is the key to success. It doesn't have to be complicated, it just has to be created and carried out.

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