By Jeff Tracy | June 22, 2017

Congratulations! You’re going to be a pet parent. For years you’ve looked on enviously at the bond between your friends and their dogs, and now it’s finally your turn. All that’s left to do is decide what kind of dog you want and what that little rascal’s name is going to be. Right?

Not so fast. Yes, bringing home a new dog does mean kisses and snuggles, but it also means making quite a few changes to your every day life. Review our pre-puppy checklist before picking up your pooch so you can focus on perfecting your belly rub technique on night one.

Allocate a Budget

There are the obvious upfront costs: healthy food, toys, and a bed (though you may just end up sharing yours). But have you factored in all of the other expenses associated with a new pet?

Puppies require several rounds of shots, as well as preventative flea and heart worm medications and regular vet checkups. There’s also the cost of walking and training sessions, any unexpected medical procedures, and miscellaneous goodies like toothpaste and treats.

While you’re going to love your dog like crazy and likely won’t be able to imagine a better way to spend your hard earned money, it’s still important to think through all of the expenses that you’ll incur along the way. Plan ahead to make sure there’s plenty of room in your budget for both you and your dog.

Create Space

How big is your apartment? Whatever the square footage, it’s about to feel a lot smaller. You’re bringing a living, breathing creature into the space you call home, and with that comes toys strewn about the floor, crates and beds, and a lot less time for laundry.

Before your pup comes home with you, clear out an area where you’ll store his stuff. Elk antlers and chew toys will still inevitably wind up between the couch cushions within three months, but starting with a designated area will give you a reference point to aim for once Hurricane Fido has made landfall.

Strive for Balance

When you bring your dog home for the first time, you’re going to have trouble imagining ever leaving him alone. “Sorry, can’t do dinner tonight. Why? Oh, it’s just that Fido’s doing that thing where he’s the cutest dog on the planet so there’s no way I’m leaving him right now.”

That’s a perfectly normal line of thinking for a new dog owner. But after a while, you’re going to need to learn to balance your own needs with your dog’s. As hard as it may be to prioritize going to the gym or grocery shopping after being away at work all day, one of you needs to be the responsible human.

Then again, you could also just work out with your dog and call it a day. We won’t judge.

All prepped? Get pumped. Whether you’ve been dreaming of this day your whole life or spontaneously decided to adopt a dog in need of a home, you’re about to embark on a truly exhilarating journey. It’s exciting (and a little bit scary), but we promise it will be one of the best and rewarding decisions you’ll ever make.