You love dogs and are contemplating taking the leap into dog ownership. We get it! Having a dog is truly one of life’s great joys. But caring for a dog full-time is also a serious responsibility that requires time, energy and money. Here are five questions to ask yourself before you start visiting your local animal shelters or a breeder, to be sure you’re ready for the long-term commitment of caring for a dog:
- Do you have time for a dog? You’ll have to dedicate a lot of time to training and socializing your new furry family member. Puppies require house training, socialization, and obedience training. Adult rescue dogs may have behavior issues that require remediation. Dogs also need lots of love, exercise, and play time. If you can’t give a dog ample attention, wait to get one ‘til you can.
- Can you afford a dog? It typically costs between $400 and $700 a year to feed a dog, but there are other expenses that come with being a responsible dog owner. Your dog will require regular check-ups with his veterinarian, and these can sometimes lead to unexpected medical expenses. You’ll also need basic supplies, such as shampoo, dog toys, dog collars and leashes to ensure his comfort, safety, and well-being. If you work all day, factor in the expense of a dog walker or doggie daycare.
- Do you have children, and what are their ages? If you have very young children, consider delaying bringing home a new dog until they are older and have learned about dog safety. It’s also important to remember that the ultimate responsibility for the dog rests with the adults in the household.
- Are you ready to care for a dog for the long haul? Dogs live about 10 to 13 years. They need to be provided with food, fresh water, and walks multiple times a day. They must be groomed regularly, by you or a professional. Requirements for care can vary between breeds and individual dogs. Dogs with facial folds, such as pugs, require special cleaning to avoid infections. If you get a high-energy dog, you’ll have to schedule a few extra walks and play sessions each day. And the needs of your dog will change significantly from when he is a puppy to when he is a senior.
- Can you live with some degree of mess and household destruction? Having a dog can be a messy business. There will be accidents and it’s possible your dog will destroy a piece of furniture instead of chewing the perfectly good toy you gave him. It’s important to be calm no matter the mayhem. Your new dog is only doing what dogs do and overreacting serves only to worsen behavior problems. With patience, training, and time, your dog will become a well-mannered member of the household.
Ultimately, you know yourself, your life circumstances, and your capabilities best. Answer these questions honestly and you’re well on your way to assessing whether you are ready to welcome a dog into your world.
What made you decide to take the plunge and get a new dog? Or, has something held you back from bringing a pup home? We’d love to hear how you made your decision one way or the other in the comments below.