Dogs are the most popular pets in America and it’s no surprise why: They’re loyal, loving, and caring creatures that want nothing more than to spend time with their family and have fun. They’re also extremely adaptable and no matter what your lifestyle or life demands are, there is most certainly a dog out there for you, especially if you're looking for an emotional support animal.

That being said, getting a dog is no light matter and should never be a spur of the moment decision. For you and your dog to truly thrive, you have to put some real thought and preparation into the decision. This is even more important if you have a family and children because your future pet won’t only be your new family member, but theirs as well. So many families bring a dog into their home with the intent of giving them love and attention, only to find they don’t have the time or money to devote to it. The end result is a dog that is eventually neglected or given up – a sad experience for everyone involved.

With all of this in mind, there are a few things you can do to see if you’re ready for a dog in your home. First, ask yourself honestly if you have the time and money for a pet. If you feel that you do, you’ll next want to look hard at yourself and be honest about what kind of lifestyle you live. Some dogs need more time, space and energy than others. Any dog can fit into the right situation, but it’s important to find the breed and personality that matches with your life.

New puppy in home

If you have kids, you’re most likely getting the most pressure to get a cute, cuddly little puppy for them to play with. You wouldn’t be the first parent to give in prematurely just to see them around the holidays with a new pet – it certainly makes for good pictures. But you have to consider a few important things, if you can control yourself. First, make sure the breed you get is kid-friendly. A lot of cute puppies grow up to be dogs that don’t do great with kids. More importantly, you’ll want to ask yourself if your children are really ready for the responsibility of a dog. We all know parents who got a dog for their children only to find, a few years down the line, that the kids are nowhere to be found and the parents suddenly have a new responsibility.

Dogs are wonderful pets that can truly enrich a family’s life. Because they are so loving and connected to humans is the exact reason why you should approach the decision of getting one thoughtfully and seriously. When you choose a dog on a whim, or because of a fad, you’re setting you (and your pet) up for failure and frustration. When you take the time to consider all the angles, you’re setting yourself up with a lifelong companion that will change your life.