Getting a Dog? Consider These 5 Things First

At some point in your life, you probably figured out whether you’re a cat person or a dog person. Sure, it’s possible to be both, but chances are one of them has a slight edge. Once you know that, the next question is, do you want to be a pet owner? Cats are a relatively easy pet. They’re lazy, they don’t need to go outside to do their business, and they can be alone for awhile without destroying the place or bothering the neighbours.

Dogs, on the other hand, are a lot more high maintenance. Which means, if you’re going to take the plunge and become a dog owner, you have to do your homework and make sure you’re prepared. Being a dog person is one thing, but actually having one isn’t always as glamorous and care-free as it may seem. Here’s what you should consider before picking out a new furry friend.

The breed
No two dogs are exactly the same and that all starts with the breed you choose. There are a few things you should consider right off the bat when you’re researching the best breed for your lifestyle. How much time will your future dog be spending home alone, do you have any outdoor space for them to run around in, and do you have any children or other pets that will be living with your new dog? Some dogs need more exercise than others, so if you don’t see yourself going for long daily walks (in all weather), avoid breeds like Australian Shepherds, Dalmations, Huskies, and Golden Retrievers.

While all dogs need plenty of attention, some are prone to separation anxiety and won’t do well if left home alone while you’re at work. Breeds such as German Shepards, Cocker Spaniels, and many smaller breed dogs aren’t the best at being away from you for long periods of time. Instead, consider a French Bulldog, Maltese, Basset Hound, or a Whippet. They’re lower energy and won’t mind sleeping the day away until you return.

The cost
A pure bred puppy is always going to cost more than a mixed breed adult dog. That’s because puppies are more in demand, and certain breeds are more rare. Beyond the cost of buying the actual dog, you have to consider everything you’re going to need right off the bat. The basics will include a collar, a leash, a dog bed, a food and water dish, a crate, and of course, dog food. If you care about your dog’s health, you probably shouldn’t just automatically buy the cheapest brand dog food either.

You should consider the long term cost as well. Vet visits for checkups and routine shots cost money, and if your dog is injured, gets sicks, or needs surgery, the bill could range from a few hundred to a few thousands dollars. Look into getting pet insurance so you’re prepared for any unexpected emergencies that might come up.

The commitment
When you get a dog, you’re taking on the responsibility for a undisclosed length of time. Some people choose to rehome their dog if they can’t take care of them anymore, but that isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Dogs are sensitive, loyal creatures, and they’ll get just as attached to you as you get to them. If you do decide to get a dog, make sure you’re ready to fully commit to giving him or her a good home.

The sacrifices
A dog is going to be completely reliant on you for food, water, exercise, and love. That means you can’t decide to go on impromptu weekend road trips whenever you feel like it, stay out all night, or even work late without taking the pup at home waiting for you into consideration. You can use dog walking services and doggy day care when you need to, but those things can get expensive if you’re using them all the time. Having a pet means you might have to sacrifice certain social functions, show up late sometimes, or just be creative and resourceful in your strategies for maintaining the lifestyle you want and still making sure your dog is taken care of.

The timing
Just like most big decisions in life, making sure the timing is right to adopt a dog is important. Do you have a stable schedule? Are you able to change your routine to fit in plenty of walks and quality time with your new dog? Is your home a safe place for a dog? Are you financially ready to be responsible for another living thing? If anything, give yourself a few months to save up a little money and think about how you will adjust your life for your dog. That way, you’ll spend less time stressing out and more time bonding with your new best friend.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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