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A lot of thought goes into the decision to welcome a new dog into a family. There are so many factors to consider, from breed and age to timing. When's the best time of year to adopt a dog? The short answer is: It depends.
Bringing home a new dog requires a significant amount of time and commitment. To determine the best time to adopt a dog, consider your work schedule, lifestyle and weather patterns in your area.
Here are the pros and cons of adopting a dog during each season.
Spring is a great time to adopt a new dog because you can participate in more outdoor activities together. With nature back in bloom, you and your new puppy pal can establish a walking routine and discover exciting new sights and smells. This is also a great time to house-train a dog if they aren't already because it means you don't have to stand out in the cold while they do their business.
Because yards and dog parks tend to be muddy in the spring, consider taking your pet to a park — as long as it allows dogs — where you can stroll on paved pathways and check out the squirrels coming out of hibernation.
However, if springtime is very wet where you live, consider if you're properly equipped and prepared to take a dog out in the middle of the rain.
Ah, summer, when the days are longer and the sun shines brighter. For some people, work is slower in the summer, which frees up more time to devote to a new dog. Again, it's also much easier to potty train a dog when it's warm outside. According to the American Kennel Club, your dog should go out first thing in the morning, after each meal and nap and after playtime.
If you have children, they'll likely be around the house during their summer vacation, so put them to work as primary pup caretakers. In addition to strengthening their bond, kids and pets who play together benefit both emotionally and physically.
If you decide that the best time of year to adopt a dog is the summer, just be sure to avoid walking your new pooch during the hottest part of the day. You don't want to burn their paws on hot pavement or give either of you heat exhaustion. Summer evenings, however, are made for dog walks!
If you're busiest in the spring and summer or if you prefer to be outside during cooler months, fall might be the best time of year for you to adopt a dog. As the weather turns colder, there's nothing better than walking through crunchy leaves while watching wild critters prepare to hunker down for the winter.
Since many holidays take place during fall and winter, you may want to consider adopting your pup earlier in the season rather than later so that your regular schedule isn't disrupted. A late summer adoption could set you up for a more relaxing, yet structured, fall schedule.
Depending on how cold it gets where you live, adopting a dog in the winter could affect potty training and exercise schedules. If you live in an area where temperatures frequently plummet below freezing, then you'll have to be mindful of frostbite as well as slips and injuries, notes Petful. Add potty training into the mix and you might have a rough go of it.
Also, keep in mind that the end of the year can be a tough time to adopt a dog if you have a busy holiday season. Bringing a new dog into a stressful environment wouldn't be good for either of you. And before adopting a dog for a friend or family member, beware that giving someone a dog as a gift isn't advised unless the recipient is fully prepared for the responsibility of being a pet parent.
However, winter can still be a great time to adopt a dog. Shelters often have plenty of adoptable dogs that will make for great cuddle partners as you both hunker down to try and stay warm.
There's no one-size-fits-all answer for when the best time to adopt a dog is. Consider your individual lifestyle and schedule as you consider when to open your home and heart to a new furry family member.
Christine Brovelli-O'Brien, Ph.D., is a writer, editor, STEAM educator, and devoted pet mom. She's a professional member of the Cat Writers' Association (CWA), and her work appears in other online publications, including NIU Stem Read. Find and follow Christine on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien