Do you have fond memories of you childhood dog? Romantic images of bonding with a stray and snuggling up in bed together? Can’t wait to bring home a wiggly puppy to your children? Before you hop into dog ownership, here are things you should consider.
Not all homes allow dogs.
If you OWN your home, you know whether you are allowed. It’s still a good idea to run this new venture past any roommates or spouses, but you should be home free. If you RENT, get it in writing from your land-lord that you can have a dog. No one wants to fall in love with a new puppy only to have to rehome it after the land-lord finds out.
Puppies grow up to be dogs.
It can be easy to forget when they are all tiny and cute, but dogs grow up. A puppy that grows up to be 5 pounds isn’t that much smaller than a puppy that grows up to be 130 lbs. Make sure you’re prepared for the size this puppy is going to be when full grown, and what you will do if it gets bigger than expected. You don’t want to dump a grown up dog just because it’s not a cute puppy anymore. Make sure you’re in it for the life of the dog before you bring home the puppy. They can live a long time. If you’re lucky.
Dogs have energy.
That picture of a dog sleeping on the couch is so peaceful. And it isn’t going to happen until the dog is past puppy-hood. Puppies are full of energy and that energy needs to be directed. A bored puppy will eat your house, destroy all your possessions, and drive you insane. Have a plan for that energy. If you have a large yard, some breeds will burn off enough energy just running around. Many breeds need a daily exercise routine to stay happy, so research the breed you are looking at before you bring it home. A mix breed dog can still have a guess at what is in it, so ask around if you aren’t sure what breeds those might be. It makes a huge difference in their energy levels.
Dogs must be trained.
This goes along with the energy thing. Dogs don’t magically learn how to poop outside, sleep on the bed you bought them and not your couch, walk on a leash, or do tricks. You have to actively teach them how to behave. This means 10+ minutes a day. For months. For as long as it takes. This means going to a dog trainer for help. This means not giving up on the dog. I have had a great experience with the trainers at our local PetCo and they are cheap compared to a stand alone dog trainer. Take your puppy to the Puppy class and learn how to train your dog. It’s worth it. You will never regret putting time in training your dog.
Dogs need routine vet care.
Your new puppy will need a series of puppy shots followed by a rabies vaccination. The puppy will need to be fixed so it does not make more puppies. Eventually, it will need it’s teeth cleaned. It will need booster shots at intervals that your vet will decide with you. Plan for these costs. A PET FUND jar works. Figure out how much these things cost at your vet and how much you need to save each month to pay for them. If you skip on vaccinations, fixing, etc, you will pay more later. Your dog will get parvo or pregnant and that will cost much, much more, and risk your dog’s life.
They may also develop something that requires medication everyday. Spicy, my geriatric chi, takes two heart medications every morning. It costs about $25 a month.
Dogs can get sick/hurt.
Even if you play for the basic vet costs, your dog could still get sick or hurt. You need to save up an emergency fund for an event like this AND have a talk with anyone else involved in your finances about what the cut off for spending money on the vet is. After that amount, you humanely euthanize. It is best to have this talk long before you are in the situation. Emotions run high and you won’t be making the best decisions.
Dogs take money.
- poo bags
- portable fencing
- fenced yard
- training classes
- replacing things they destroy because they’re bored
- replacing floor they ruin peeing on it
Don’t buy a dog if:
- You don’t have time to train it
- You don’t want to train it.
- It will spend most of it’s life in a crate.
- You want one because you saw it in a movie.
- You rent and are not allowed to have a dog.
- You have house mates who are allergic.
- You are pregnant or might soon be pregnant and won’t want to or won’t be able to train it.
- You expect your child to take care of it.
- You might move soon and won’t be able to talk the dog with you.
- you will be giving it as a gift to someone else.
- You travel a lot and won’t be able to/want to pay for pet care.
If you aren’t sure whether you’re ready for a dog or not, borrow one. Ask a friend to let you dog sit the dog at your house for the weekend. See how it goes! Go volunteer at the animal shelter. If you haven’t had a dog in a long time, or only had already trained adult dogs, sign up for those puppy training classes asap. You both will be happier!