Getting a dog is a 10 to 15-year commitment, so what six important things should you consider before getting a dog?
So you’ve decided that you want to get a dog. While a man’s best friend is labeled as such for a reason, there are a few important factors to consider to ensure you choose the right dog for you. Dogs typically live anywhere from 10 to 15 years. You’ll find that smaller breeds often live longer, so it’s no light commitment to make. To ensure your furry friend also lives a good life, you’ll want to consider the housing situation you’ll be raising your dog in, as well as your availability to care for your friend. If you have other animals, you’ll want to be certain they will get along, and you’ll have the money to afford all of the short-term and long-term costs. Read on to see if you’re ready to take the next steps to become a dog parent.
Consider the Breed
There are hundreds of different types of dogs bred for various purposes, whether it be companion, guarding, herding, or hunting. You’re likely not looking for a Belgian Malinois, commonly used as a police dog, or a Great Pyrenees, usually used to guard livestock. Most shelter dogs or common breeds like retrievers or spaniels are a generic fit for most people. It’s important to consider the breed and what kind of dog fits you and your lifestyle best.
If you’re fairly active, you may want to stay away from tiny dogs that may struggle to keep up with you on runs or hikes. If you’re happy to have a dog that prefers relaxing, you may want to consider Italian Greyhounds or other breeds that have a low activity level. If you plan to adopt from a shelter, odds are most dogs there will be mixed breeds, but you can still speak with a shelter representative and figure out the perfect dog for you.
You likely reside in either an apartment or a house, perhaps alone or with a partner or roommates. If you live in an apartment, it’s a good idea to research breeds that do well with apartment living or consider a smaller dog if you’re adopting from a shelter. You will also need to check if you’ll need to pay a pet fee or deposit to have a dog.
If you are already a homeowner and looking to optimize your space for your new dog, you could look into expanding the capabilities of your yard. Larger or more active breeds would benefit significantly from a yard big enough to allow them to run around and play as their heart desires. However, many dogs cannot be off-leash and require fencing of some sort, whether that be your typical white picket fence or underground electric fence. Alternatively, some dog owners find dog runs beneficial as they allow dogs the freedom of being outside and the safety of being contained. Your dog’s safety is further enhanced with fencing around potential dangerous setups, such as a pool. If these options are outside your current budget, consider applying for a home equity loan. This loan lends you the finances to build fencing or runs to provide your dog with adequate exercise, as well as protection from hazards. By taking advantage of home equity loans, you’ll face lower interest rates, and since this goes towards home improvement, it is tax-deductible. This can help with making your home more dog-friendly without breaking the bank.
Time and Availability
Another factor to consider is your job. Do you have enough time to take care of your dog? Your new dog will need to be let out every handful of hours and fed once or twice a day. Especially if you get a puppy, you’ll need to keep a close eye on them to ensure they don’t get into trouble or make a mess inside your home. Puppies will require more attention at first, so you’ll need to account for near-constant supervision, whether that means working remotely or hiring a pet sitter to help out. Including supervision, dogs need time outside exercising, so you’ll need to carve out enough time for walks, hikes, or playing fetch at the park to ensure your canine friend lives a healthy and active lifestyle.
Do you have any other pets? Perhaps a cat or a dog already, or even the less common pets such as birds, lizards, fish, or even rats? Each animal has a unique set of needs, so it’s important to account for all of your pets’ needs. A dog will likely need to be taught not to chase the cat or go after the smaller fluffy or scaly residents. If you already have a dog, it’s important to ensure that your current dog and new dog get along. Sometimes shelters will ask to see the vaccination records of other pets in the home before allowing you to bring home your new dog. Most smaller pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs, or rats are prey animals, and naturally, a dog will want to pursue them, so it’s crucial to ensure that they can cohabitate without problems or stress.
Whether you already have a few pets or you’re working on just getting a dog, there will be vet bills and regular expenses you’ll need to account for. These costs could be spaying/neutering, various necessary vaccinations, emergency medical operations or treatments, medications, health exams, and more. You can offset these costs with pet insurance, which can cover the more expensive costs if your pet suffers from an illness or injury. In addition, you’ll need to continuously buy food and treats for your dog, as well as supplies like collars, leashes, and toys. It’s important to make sure you have enough money to support both you and your dog, especially through any life changes or sudden emergencies.
As mentioned before, dogs can live anywhere from 10 to 15 years, sometimes less and sometimes more, depending on the breed. This means that you should take into account your life plans. Perhaps you have freshly graduated college, and you want a puppy. This puppy may stay with you through moving out of your parents’ house, finding a job, maybe even getting married! Perhaps you and your partner already live together. Still, if you intend on potentially moving elsewhere, whether it be for a job or to be closer to family, you’ll need to consider the needs of your dog and how they can fit into these plans. In a case where you may need to move into a small apartment, a large breed of dog may not thrive in that setting. Or if you need to move cross-country, you’ll have to figure out how to get your dog there as well.
While there are a lot of considerations to ponder when preparing to get a dog, it’s still an exciting journey to getting a new companion. It’s crucial to consider how to best care for your dog and find one that is well suited to your lifestyle. Once you do choose your furry friend, read our top tips for new dog owners to learn about the next steps to take!
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