Whether you are adopting a rescue dog from a shelter, or buying a puppy from a breeder, there are five things you want to consider before bringing a new dog home. While puppies and adult dogs have very different needs, some aspects of dog ownership are universal.
Can you afford it?
While this seems like an extremely basic question, unfortunately many people don’t consider this. Adult dogs with no health problems can cost around $500-$1,000 per year in food, supplies, medications, and standard veterinary care. Emergencies can range into the thousands. Puppies have additional up-front expenses throughout their first year, such as training, vaccines, and extra toys and puppy food. Also add in additional budget for any dog with special medical needs. Owning a dog represents a considerable financial commitment, and adults considering adopting or buying a dog should have a job as well as an emergency fund, just in case.
Is your home good for a dog?
Where you live could be a huge limitation to the breeds you can consider, or even to owning a dog at all. Many apartment complexes and landlords limit the breeds or size of dogs they allow on their property, or they don’t allow dogs at all. Most reputable breeds and shelters will insist on you either being a homeowner, or having express permission from your landlord to own a specific dog. If you are allowed a dog, you should consider the size of your home. Large breeds need a lot of space to run and play and usually do better in a home with a yard. Smaller breeds are much more comfortable with apartment living. Research will help you determine the energy level of the breed you are interested in, and will in the end help you determine what breed of dog is right for you and your house.
Is your lifestyle right for a dog?
Many prospective dog owners spend months searching for the right breed, breeder/shelter, and researching if that dog is right for them. However, many people don’t think past the point of actually buying/adopting the dog. Owning a dog could be a significant change to your lifestyle. Dogs need to be let outside every 4-8 hours to use the restroom, meaning your day needs to involve being home frequently to accommodate that. Anyone that travels a lot should also consider the care of the dog when they are away. Researching boarding facilities or dog-watchers is extremely important, as not all boarders are created equal! It is also important to remember that your dog wants to be around you, they want your love and attention and will thrive if they get special time with you each day. It is important for a dog owner to take that time to show their dog affection every day.
Do you have any limitations that would affect owning a dog?
Even if you’ve already determined your home is perfect for a dog, and you can afford it, there can still be other limitations you need to consider. Does anyone living in the house, or anyone that comes over frequently (that you would like to continue coming over frequently) have a dog allergy? Even mild dog allergies can become severe if the dog is living in the home and around all of the time. If someone in the home has an allergy but you are still considering getting a puppy because the allergy is mild, you should conduct an experiment by bringing a friend or family members dog into the home as much as possible for a week or two. Test how that exposure affects the person who is allergic, but know that with the dog living there it is likely to be worse than a dog only being there part-time. Any families with children should spend additional time researching child-friendly breeds and making sure that the temperament of the dog or puppy you buy/adopt is gentle towards children. Even if the breed is extremely child-friendly, small children should never be left alone with dogs, but should always be supervised.
Are you ready for the commitment?
If you’ve read this entire article and are absolutely sure you are ready for a dog, the last thing you need to consider is the commitment involved. Most dogs live 10-15 years, some even ranging closer to a 20-year lifespan. This represents a significant time commitment for a very long time for any dog owner. Dogs are a joy to own, but if you feel it is a burden in any way, you will not be getting as much as you can out of your relationship with your new dog. If you are not ready to commit to a dog for the entirety of that dogs life, you should not buy/adopt just yet. But, if you are not only ready, but thrilled to be part of that dogs entire life, than you are properly prepared and informed to get a dog and have a relationship that will enrich both of your lives for a long time to come!
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