Dogs are man’s best friend, but to be your dog’s best friend you have to take care of him the way you’d take care of a kid: with patience, kindness, and the terrifying knowledge that this living creature’s continued existence on this Earth depends entirely on you not screwing up.

So before you even think of getting a dog, make sure you do a ton of research and gain a thorough understanding of the needs of the specific breed you want. Also, be sure to visit your local humane society for some tips and also to learn about adoption.

1.  Basics

Just like with a kid, you need to make sure you have whatever your dog needs before you bring him home. That includes food, bowls, a collar and leash, bedding, and breed appropriate brushes to keep that coat tick-free and in top form.

2. Give Them Plenty of Exercise

work out with dog. Young caucasian male running with siberian husky dog. Man and husky jogging in park

In addition to regular walking, make sure you take them somewhere where they can cut loose at least once a week, especially if you live in a smaller apartment. Dogs are highly active creatures and they need exertion both for their physical and mental health. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to run around with them in the park.

While exercising your dog can be a challenge if you live in the northern climes, there are definitely ways to get them active during the winter.

3. Diet

Dog tastes delicious food

Most adult dog should be fed two times a day, but puppies need meals three or four times a day. The amount depends on your breed. While you should have a water bowl out for them at all times, you shouldn’t just leave a bag of feed out for them to chew on whenever they want. An occasional treat is a definite do, but be careful what and how much you give them or you’ll wind up with a hugely overweight and unhealthy dog on your hands.

4. Chip Them

In addition to getting your pup a pretty little collar with your contact information on it, you can also implant them with a GPS microchip in case they get lost and you don’t want to rely on the kindness of strangers to get them back.

Or you can just do it because you think putting a microchip in something sounds cool. Whatever floats your boat.

5. Health

Little dachshund is having fear for the veterinarian

Stay up to date on your dog’s vaccination schedule and make sure to take them to the vet regularly. When they’re around half a year old, you should also consider getting them spayed/neutered. Although castrating your new best friend does sound like a pretty shitty thing to do, in the long run it’ll save your dog a ton of baby mama drama.