Dogs make wonderful companions for so many reasons. They are fun, loyal, sweet, and relatively easy to train if you take the time. However, they can be a lot of work and sometimes people don’t realize what they’re getting into until they’ve already adopted their dog. This is why so many end up in shelters, because the owners weren’t prepared for the trials of being dog parents.

There are some crucial points that every potential dog owner should know before they make the commitment. Going in with this knowledge will better prepare you to be the dog mom or dad that your future pet needs you to be.

1. Regular Vet Care Matters

Taking your dog to the vet clinic every year is an important part of caring for them. This means getting them examined for any potential illnesses or problems, keeping their vaccines up to date, and even staying on top of dental care. Dogs can develop gum diseases just like humans can and gum pain or tooth loss can make eating difficult for them.

You shouldn’t get a dog if you’re not prepared to handle veterinary bills. Not only are regular check-ups and vaccinations important, but as dogs get older they often develop more health issues. Old dog skin problems can cost a ton of money in vet bills and medications. Cancer treatments can cost even more. Even getting your animal put down when there is nothing to be done for them costs money.

2. Exercise is a Must

The idea of a snuggly lap dog is always nice, but even the laziest of dogs need exercise. Not only does it help them unleash excess energy so they can behave better, but it’s wonderful for their health. It keeps them from gaining too much weight, keeps their muscles fit, and is good for their heart and lungs. Sedentary lifestyles are no more healthy for dogs than they are for humans and your dog will need between 30 minutes and two hours of exercise each day depending on their age, weight, and breed.

3. They Don’t Stay Young

Puppies are great and a lot of fun, but they don’t stay puppies. Often times people will allow dogs to perform certain behaviors that are cute when they’re a puppy, but that turn out to be annoying once the dog gets bigger. Things like jumping, nibbling on hands, and stealing bites of food might seem harmless when the dog is small, but it’s best not to encourage them. That way when they grow into their full size, they haven’t been trained to behave in a way that is suddenly irritating.

Also, adult dogs eventually grow into senior dogs. Senior dogs come with old dog skin problems, back problems, eye problems, and more. Their bodies age and wither just as human bodies do. You have to be prepared to face those old dog skin problems and other issues just as you faced every other stage of their life.

4. Dogs Should Be Socialized

People sometimes expect their dogs to just be friendly to other dogs and people. However, if those things are unfamiliar to them it can be frightening and make them uncomfortable. Dogs who are uncomfortable may lash out. It’s their nature as animals. This is why it’s important to socialize them from a young age. That way they won’t be getting into tiffs when you take them to the veterinary clinic or growling at your neighbors.

If you keep this advice in mind and view your pet as a living being who is going to go through different stages of life in a short time, you will be an amazing dog owner.