If you’re like most people who want a dog, happy thoughts of puppy eyes and wagging tails are probably buzzing around in your mind. After all, who can resist the joy of a furry friend? Dogs offer true companionship and unconditional affection, and they can even help you handle stress, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Before you let excitement take over, though, it’s important to know the things to consider before getting a dog, from your daily routine to the size of your home.
Dogs require plenty of care, training, and equipment to grow up happy and healthy. Asking yourself, “Should I get a dog” instead of acting on impulse is a positive first step toward making the best choice for you. Consider these questions to help guide your decision.
1. Do you know how to care for a dog?
You will probably have a lot of learning to do if you’ve never had a dog before. As a pet parent, you should be adaptable, nurturing, and willing to remain calm when your dog makes training mistakes. You should also read up on feeding, safety, dog body language,
and a variety of other topics prior to taking home your new best friend. Spending some time with a friend or family member’s dog can help you gauge your caretaking abilities.
Even if this will not be the first dog you had, you might be in for some surprises if you’re not familiar with their breed or personality. Don’t expect your new dog to be just like another dog that’s near and dear to your heart; remain open minded and be prepared to adjust to their unique traits and needs.
2. Can your family handle a new dog?
Make sure everybody in your home agrees on whether you should get a dog. Ensure all your loved ones will welcome a dog, and consider any dog-related allergies they may have. If you decide on welcoming a new furry family member, it’s helpful to assign “jobs” for each person; decide who will walk, feed, train, and groom the new addition to the family.
Even though kids often promise to care for a dog in order to get one, adults will likely carry the bulk of responsibilities. In fact, ensuring dogs and kids safe around each other can be a commitment in and of itself. Keep a close eye on young children when they’re around your dog and teach them how to respect their new friend and vice versa.
3. Do you have time?
Dogs are social creatures just like us. That’s why you will have to make yourself available to love and care for your four-legged friend as often as possible. Puppies especially require lots of supervision and one-on-one socialization. Meanwhile, adult dogs also deserve your attention every day—even years down the line. Make sure your schedule allows for consistent meals, walks, playtime, bath time, training, and potty breaks as needed.
Training is one of the most important and time-consuming tasks. You should make time for dog obedience training,
crate training, and potty training. These projects call for repetition and commitment from you and your dog, so staying persistent is key.
4. Have you weighed the cost of raising a dog?
Raising a dog is a significant financial commitment. Regardless of whether you plan on adopting a dog
or getting one from a breeder, expenses start early. According to ASPCA,
the first year cost of raising a dog can range from $1,471 for small dogs to $2,008.31 for large dogs. Make sure you’re prepared to meet these monetary needs from the get-go.
In addition, you will need money to care for your dog throughout their life. Consider items such as food, dog treats, leashes, chew toys, cleaning supplies, grooming tools or services, and vet bills in your budget. If you travel often or have a long commute, you should also think about the cost of kennel boarding or dog sitting.
5. Is your home ready to accommodate a dog?
Your home should be large enough for you, your dog, and your family to live comfortably. Therefore, determining which breed would best fit your lifestyle is an important step in your early research. If you live in a condo or apartment, you might not have ample room for that Great Dane or Saint Bernard you’ve been dreaming about. Remember that puppies can get big quickly; according to American Kennel Club
, it takes pups 6 to 24 months to finish growing in height and size.
Keep in mind that our furry friends are curious animals, so you must dedicate time to dog-proofing your home. Your dog may try to chew dangling electrical wires and swallow inedible objects such as socks and hair ties, and sometimes even your furniture.
Get in the habit of picking up dropped food, too; chocolate, grapes, raisins, and onions are just some examples of foods that are toxic to dogs
. If you have a yard, it should be fenced in and large enough to deter digging, climbing, jumping, and other means of escape. Above all, be vigilant about keeping your dog safe.
Are you ready for a new dog?
Raising a dog is a long-term commitment that will change your life. You may experience puppy fever after meeting your neighbor’s new dog. However, at the end of the day, you must be honest with yourself and determine the best time to take on a world of new responsibilities. Remember, you and your future furry friend may be together for the next 10 or even 20 years.
It might help to talk to friends and family members who are pet parents. Ask about their experiences raising a dog and what it’s like to live with a furry companion. If you decide that you’re ready for a dog, these people can be great resources for questions about training and bonding.
Taking care of a dog can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling. If you have considered the things to know before getting a dog and believe it’s time to welcome home a new friend of your own, we wish you and your Cadet all the love and joy of being a pet parent!