I never knew what a huge responsibility it was to own a dog until I had my own as an adult. I was suddenly needing to make decisions about diet, encountering strange illnesses, and figuring out adequate exercise programs. I did a lot of trial-and-error. And I made a lot of mistakes. But I also learned some things along the way.
If I were going to adopt a new dog, these are some things I would do differently:
1) Get good pet insurance immediately. I can't stress enough how happy we are to have pet insurance, especially when Miss M had a several thousand dollar kidney issue that only ended up costing us a couple hundred dollars. The thing about pet insurance is it's best to get it as soon as possible. This way your dog won't have any pre-existing conditions and most ailments will be covered.
I didn't research well enough when I got Miss M's pet insurance, and her plan under PetCare doesn't cover breed-specific conditions, which include all of her allergies and skin problems. I also had several problems with the company making claims. Several times I had to resubmit claims, and once they decided not to cover a procedure that wasn't "approved". It wasn't until I faxed back their approval letter that they suddenly found the approval in their computer.
Needless to say, E did a lot of research when choosing Mr B's insurance. We really like Trupanion which may have a higher premium, but covers all breed-specific conditions. We especially like them more than Embrace which increased our premium nearly 40% for a single year. E's research and complete write-up can be found here.
2) Brush their teeth every day. As our dogs are aging, I'm noticing their teeth are looking a little green. Hound Girl just wrote about how important it is to start early and be consistent; neither of which we have done. I was always envious of this dog's teeth, whose owner had been brushing since he was a puppy. If I could do it again, I would begin a consistent teeth-brushing regimen.
3) Rotate their diet. We had found a food we liked and stuck with it. Unfortunately, this caused our pooches to develop sensitive stomachs that were affected by any slight change in diet or treats. We have slowly started rotating their food, but I wish we could have avoided all the previous upset stomachs.
What are some things you've learned along the way that you wish you'd done earlier?