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What to Know Before Getting a Dog

Updated December 3, 2021 . AmFam Team

Thinking about getting a dog? Be sure you’re prepared for your new best friend by reviewing these things to consider before getting a dog.

Picking out a new pet is a big task, especially if you’re looking at bringing home a dog. There are so many questions to answer and a lot to prepare. The size of your home, the amount of free time you have between work and family, your homeowners insurance — all important things to think about before committing to becoming a dog mom or dad. We’ve put together a list of important things to consider about home insurance and other factors to help you understand whether a dog is right for you.

How Will My Home Insurance Be Affected If I Get a Dog?

In many cases, bringing a dog home will impact your home insurance. Depending on the size and breed of the dog, you could see an increase in your homeowners insurance premiums. Some homeowners insurance companies even restrict ownership of certain breeds as a condition of your home insurance.

The reason your rates may raise when bringing home a new dog is because of the risks associated with dogs and injuries to people. While you may have the best behaved dog in the world, they could still accidentally injure someone on your property by tripping them or playing a little too roughly. Some breeds are also associated with higher risk because of the assumptions they might be more aggressive than others. Be sure to connect with your insurance agent to understand what restrictions your homeowners insurance has regarding dogs.

You’ll also want to consider the amount of personal liability insurance you have. If your dog injures someone — even accidentally — you could be liable for their injuries, resulting in a homeowners insurance claim and possibly costing you money out-of-pocket. Make sure you have enough liability coverage to protect yourself from a costly lawsuit if your dog causes injury by reviewing your homeowners insurance with your agent. You might also consider umbrella insurance to help cover any costs over your liability amount.

You may also want to consider getting pet insurance in case your new pet has a medical emergency.

Other Factors to Consider Before Bringing a Dog Home

There are multiple factors to consider before you bring home your new best friend, so make sure you’re prepared by thinking about them before heading to the shelter.

Your Home

Depending on the size and breed of dog you’re interested in, your home will require different things to provide the best environment possible for your new family member. If you live in an apartment or small house, a smaller dog might be your best choice. If you have a home with a large yard you can probably accommodate a larger breed.

If you plan on getting a fence for your dog, you’ll want to insure it properly with other structures coverage, which will protect it from unexpected events like storm damage, vandalism and more.

Your Activity Level

Are you someone who goes jogging every morning and hangs out at the gym after work? Or are you more of a homebody couch potato? Your personal level of energy and your dog’s level of energy should match. Smaller dog and working dog breeds, like Jack Russell terriers and collies, need a lot of exercise to keep them happy, while larger breeds like mastiffs tend to be a lot happier just napping on the sofa most of the day.

Consider your free time and availability as well. Do you work long hours? Do you like to go clubbing on weeknights after work? Are you a stay-at-home parent? Make sure you have time to train and care for a dog after you’ve brought them home before committing to the responsibility.

Your Family

Is it just you? You and a partner? You, a partner and small kids? Older kids? Certain dogs are better for certain kinds of families. Some dog breeds do better around small kids, while others are best for single folks, so do your research on which breeds are best for your family. If you’re adopting from a shelter and most or all of the selections are unknown breeds, get a behavior profile on the dog to understand if they’re the right fit for your family.

Do you have a lot of guests over or plan on going to the dog park often? Learn about homeowners insurance and dog bites.

Your Budget

Pets cost a lot of money, and dogs are no exception. Make sure your budget is prepared for the price of dog food, dog toys, vet visits and that potential rise in your home insurance premium. Your savings account will also need to be considered — if your dog has a sudden emergency, will you be able to spare the expense to cover vet bills, medication and possibly time off work to help your dog recover?

At American Family, we offer pet coverage that you can add to your home insurance policy. It offers up to $1,000 in coverage for veterinarian or final expenses for your fur baby if they’re injured after a covered event.

What Type of Dog Do You Want to Bring Home?

Once you’ve got the basic considerations hashed out, you can start the search for your perfect pooch. Searching through local shelter listings might seem tedious, but it’s one of the best ways to find your new best friend. If you’re interested in a purebred pup, local breeders often have websites you can peruse. Picking out a dog from a breeder might come with a longer wait — and definitely with a higher price tag than a shelter. You’ll have to wait for a litter to be born, and even then there might be a waiting list for puppies if the breed is in particularly high demand.

You should also consider the age of the dog you’d like to bring home. Are you prepared for a puppy and all the work that entails? Or are you more interested in an older dog that’s had some training and won’t need as much attention?

Bringing home a dog takes a lot of prep, but you’ll be glad you did it when you’re settled in with the right dog for you. If you’re thinking of adding a new pet to your household, connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to understand what your homeowners insurance will help protect.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.

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