Is dog ownership right for you? That cute little bundle of fur and puppy breath is irresistible right now, but the wrong decision can result in a disaster down the road. If you want to be sure you are making the right choice, ask yourself several questions before you adopt a dog.
Can you be a responsible dog owner?
Responsible dog ownership means more than just adoring your dog. It is a serious, lifelong commitment that requires time and careful attention. Before you get a dog, be sure you are ready to commit to responsible dog ownership. This includes providing for your dog's basic needs, picking up after your dog, and making sure your dog is trained. Don’t forget: when your dog misbehaves, you are the one who will have to take the blame.
Can you afford a dog?
Basic dog expenses can cost up to several thousand dollars per year. Then consider all the little extras that you may want to splurge on for your pampered pooch. If your dog suffers from a health condition, you could be looking at spending several more thousand dollars per year. Consider purchasing pet insurance after you get your new dog. A large percentage of medical expenses may be covered. Then, make a monthly pet care budget that you can stick to.
Can your lifestyle accommodate a dog?
If you work very long hours or travel frequently, your lifestyle may not be appropriate for a dog. Social life is important to most people, but do friends and dating take up the majority of your free time? Can you incorporate a dog into all this? Consider whether or not you are willing to make adjustments to your lifestyle to accommodate a dog in your life. If not, now is probably not the right time to get a dog. If you are willing to make changes, consider the time it will take to provide basic needs such as training, grooming, exercise, and veterinary care. Then, decide if you can make the time.
Is your home appropriate for a dog?
Pet-proofing is not quite the same as child-proofing. Our four-legged companions tend to be a bit craftier than kids when it comes to off-limits areas (especially those areas where food is kept). You can hardly expect your dog to be fully trained on arrival, so there is bound to be the need for confinement and restraint. Do you rent your home? There is no reason renters cannot be dog owners, but you will need to work with the landlord and make sure your dog doesn't cause expensive damage. What about the dog's size? A studio apartment may not be ideal if you get a Great Dane. Do you have children or other pets? You cannot be certain everyone will get along. You may have to put a lot of work in.
Do you have limitations?
A chronic health condition or injury can make it difficult to care for a dog, especially a larger or energetic breed. Be sure you have someone else who can help when necessary. What about dog allergies? Allergies can seriously debilitate a person, often resulting in the choice to give up the dog. If you or someone in your household has allergies, spend some time with dogs to see if the symptoms can be managed. It is simply unfair to give up a dog for this reason if it can be prevented. If you are disabled in any way, consider getting a specially trained assistance dog so you can have a companion and built-in helper!
Once you have thought through all the pros and cons, decide if getting a dog is the right thing for you. If so, congratulations and welcome to the joys of dog ownership.