Many of us have fond memories of playing with the family dog as we were growing up, taking it for walks and playing fetch, and having it jump up at you when it was covered in mud!
Dogs are endlessly loving animals, and they can be an amazing addition to any family. However, they also take a lot of care, needing your time, energy, and money in order to thrive. It’s really important that you think carefully about the decision to get a dog and don’t let yourself be overruled by romanticized images of what it might be like.
Is a dog right for your whole family?
When you bring a dog into your home, you aren’t just getting a pet that belongs to you. You are adding a new member to your family, and it’s important that you make sure that the decision is right for everyone.
For example, if you have a partner, do they like dogs? And are they going to get involved and help out with walking and training? If they aren’t willing to do this, you may think that you can handle it all yourself, but this is the sort of thing that builds resentment over time.
If you have children, you need to consider them. Are they the sort of children who would enjoy a dog and like playing with them, or are they likely to find it difficult to share attention and love with a new pet?
How long they live
When you are deciding whether or not to get a dog, you aren’t just deciding whether it’s right for you to get a dog now. Dogs live on average between eight and ten years, so you need to be sure that for the next eight to ten years, you are planning on living in a way that is compatible with owning a dog.
For example, are you planning on moving within the next few years, or are you likely to change to a job that will make it more difficult for someone to be at home with the dog during the day? Once you have your dog, they will become part of your decision-making process, and they can mean that some opportunities are ruled out for you as a result.
Adopting vs. buying
A lot of people like the idea of buying a dog because it means you can bring them up from when they are a puppy, and you can make sure that they are well behaved.
This idea is actually a bit of a myth. There are some breed-specific traits that you can use as a guide when buying a puppy (for example, terriers love to chase things down holes because they were bred as hunting dogs), but really you can’t know how they will turn out unless you are very experienced at raining dogs. Mistakes made in early training can have an impact on a dog’s temperament, and be extremely difficult to correct.
If you adopt a dog the shelter will have spent time getting to know the dog in question, and they will be able to tell you exactly what their temperament is like. You will be able to meet the dog, often multiple times, before deciding whether or not they are the right one for you. Shelters also routinely vaccinate and spay or neuter the dogs that come to them, which is one less thing for you to worry about.
The cost of owning a dog adds up over a lifetime. You’ll need to consider food and accessories like their bed, lead, toys, and bowls.
Not only this, but you will need to take into account the cost of healthcare. Dogs need to be vaccinated once a year, as well as having routine preventative treatment for parasites like fleas and worms.
You can lower the cost of veterinary treatment by shopping around when choosing your vet. For routine treatments, easyvet.com is able to offer a more competitive price because this is their area of specialism, and they don’t offer things like surgeries.
It’s also well worth considering pet insurance, which can protect you against serious financial loss in case your pet becomes ill or is in an accident.
They will take up a lot of your time
The time commitment of getting a dog is pretty enormous. Before you think about getting a dog you need to consider whether you have the time to walk it twice each day, as well as making sure never to leave it home alone for longer than four hours.
Your dog will also demand a lot of attention from you, wanting to play often for a lot longer than you do!
They will impact your freedom
Having a dog means that an extra element of planning has to go into everything you do. Do you want to go out to dinner? If you might be out longer than four hours, then you’ll need to get someone to look in on the dog or find a restaurant that will allow you to bring the dog with you.
Holidays suddenly either have to be pet-friendly, or you will need to organize to have someone take your dog or book them into a shelter. The level of planning needed limits the possibility for spur-of-the-moment trips.
Training and pet-proofing
Training needs to be carried out daily if it’s going to be effective, and if you don’t stick to it, you will soon see the outcome in damage to your home and poor behavior towards other people and dogs.
While you are still in the process of training your dog, you will need to make sure that your house is pet-proofed so that they can’t cause damage. For example, shoes will need to be put away, and the dog may need to be shut out of certain rooms if you aren’t there to supervise.
Finally, dogs need to be walked at least twice each day and depending on the breed, each walk might take an hour. If you don’t walk your dog as often as they need, they will become unhappy and destructive, which is no fun for you, and it’s certainly not fair on the dog.
Having a dog is a wonderful addition to your life, provided that you fully understand and accept all that is involved in having one.