Are You Ready for a Dog?
So you’re thinking about adding a furry friend to your life. How exciting! But have you fully considered the responsibility and commitment it takes to own a dog? Simply knowing that you’d love to own a pup isn’t enough to prepare you for the behind-the-scenes of dog ownership. Before you commit to bringing a new furry companion into your home, it’s important to consider the impact that pet ownership has on your life and if your home is adequately prepared. Different kinds of dogs have different space and activity needs and there are certain things you don’t want to leave lying around if you have a dog. To get a better idea of whether you’re truly prepared, take a peek at the following seven signs you’re ready to pick out a new pup.
The Breed Works For Your Lifestyle and Property Space
Do you actually know which breed of puppy you really want? Is the breed a good choice for your current lifestyle? Before you can begin considering whether or not it’s time for you to get a puppy, you’ve got to have a solid idea of whether a particular breed fits into your current obligations and home space. And no, you shouldn’t just pick a breed based off a bunch of social media photos you thought were cute – you need to put some thought into your choice.
Take stock of your current time commitments: your career, hobbies, educational commitments and how you spend your weekends. If your plate is already full, a large breed that requires a ton of physical activity may not be the best choice for your lifestyle. Perhaps a smaller, less hyper breed would better fit into your already busy schedule. The last thing you want is to get a furry companion, only to learn that the breed doesn’t fit with the way you’ve structured your day-to-day life. A larger dog will also need more space for physical activity, so if you have a home with a small yard, you may need to go with a smaller dog breed.
Your Home is Prepared
If you are getting a puppy, you need to puppy-proof your home first. What exactly does that mean? Puppies pee, poo, chew and generally stick their puppy noses into places they don’t belong. To ensure your shoes, rugs, electrical cords, trash cans and furniture remain fully intact, you’ll need to make a few preparations before bringing your new pup home. What should you do? Try these tips to get started:
- Keep your shoes in a puppy-proof closet
- Cover exposed electrical cords
- Cover your trash can or store it in a cupboard
- Keep poisonous houseplants off the floor
- Put household cleansers in an inaccessible cupboard or a high shelf
- Stow away small items that may present a choking hazard
- Make sure you have a fence in your backyard so that your puppy won’t wander off
Puppies are notoriously curious and pack an abundance of energy to boot. To them, anything with a curious scent is cause for extensive exploration. They don’t know what’s dangerous and what’s not, so it’s up to you to keep them out of harm’s way.
You Have the Time
Owning a dog is a tremendous time commitment. If you decide to adopt a puppy, you’ll need to devote substantial time to potty training, obedience training, daily exercise, feeding, grooming, vet appointments, and socialization. If your schedule is already jam-packed from morning ‘til night, you may not have adequate time to devote to your new household addition. Before you decide to add a furry family member, take stock of your current commitments. If you know you’ll end up leaving the dog alone for hours on end, or you won’t have the time to exercise it daily, you may want to consider a more low-maintenance pet. Perhaps a fish?
You Have the Patience
Do you get frustrated easily? Are you prone to giving up on things? If so, a dog is probably not the best pet choice for your personality. Just as dogs require substantial time, they also require a tremendous amount of patience. If you’re planning to get a puppy, be prepared to spend hundreds of hours training and socializing your new addition. Getting a puppy to do exactly what you want is no easy task. And if you’re getting an older dog, reversing negative habits and re-training new ones can be even more time-consuming and frustrating. Through it all, you must remain loving, patient, consistent, kind and understanding. Losing patience with your dog can cause confusion – if you’re patient and kind one day but get frustrated and angry the next, your pup won’t have any idea what to expect. If you know you’re prone to stress and frustration, think twice before you bring a dog into your life.
You Have the Financial Ability to Care for a Pup
Dogs are expensive. And no, it’s not just the initial price tag of adopting a dog that counts here. Before you consider getting a pup, take stock of your financial situation. Do you have enough disposable income to devote to a pet? According to the American Kennel Club – one of the leading authorities on all things canine – the lifetime cost of owning a dog can run you well over $15,000. However, depending on the breed you choose, services required, health issues and a variety of other potential expenses, that number can climb substantially higher. If you know you have the finances necessary to support a furry addition to your family, then by all means, allocate your funds accordingly.
You’ve Done Your Research
So, you’ve already done your research on the breed you want, but have you dug a little further? Many breeds – purebreds, in particular – are notorious for health complications that develop with aging. Other breeds are well-known for behavioral issues, exploratory tendencies (a.k.a. running away), chewing, barking and other off-putting habits. You have to be ready to deal with the quirks and challenges a new pup might present. As well, if you live in a managed community, condominium or apartment, you’ll need to research the breed and weight restrictions before making your decision. You shouldn’t simply pick up a new dog on a whim – you may end up with a lot more than you bargained for.
You’re Ready for a Long-Term Commitment
Do you have a commitment phobia? Are you constantly bouncing from idea to idea and place to place? If so, a dog might not be the best pet choice for you. Dogs need a stable environment in which to live, learn, adapt and grow. Now that’s not to say you can’t change locations with a dog, but if you love to move and explore, you won’t want to tie yourself down with a time-consuming pet. When you get a dog, you must be ready to commit to being there for your pet throughout its entire life. Depending on the breed, that can be anywhere from 10 to 15 years and beyond. If your situation is constantly in flux, it’s best to hold off on getting a dog until you’re ready for a solid commitment.
Just the idea of getting a new dog is exciting! You may be ready to jump in with both feet, but please, for the sake of stress management and the health of your furry friend, think long and hard before deciding and make sure that your house is adequately prepared. When you get a dog, you owe it to your pup to be there for him or her—in any way, shape or form required. Understand that owning a dog is a huge commitment. If you’re truly ready for it, however, dog ownership can be one of the most rewarding and impactful experiences of your life.