Thinking about bringing a dog home? Oh, the fun you’ll have: evening walks, trips to the park, hiking and camping, and bright, bouncy tennis balls. Does your ideal companion have a furry butt, waggy tail, floppy or pointy ears, curly, straight, or no hair? Big or small?
There are many breeds to consider, and everyone has their preference. Before you decide, put aside your aesthetic preferences. Think about your lifestyle. Be fair to the dog and yourself by finding a friend who fits how you live.
Size matters. Do you live in an apartment or house, in the city or on lots of land? If you live on a lot of land, size doesn’t factor in as much; you can have a small or large dog. But a Great Dane in a one-bedroom apartment doesn’t make sense.
Dogs need space. Big dogs get stifled in small spaces. Small-space dwellers have two options: get a small dog, or wait until you have a larger place. That said, Pugs, Chihuahuas, and Pomeranians may fit in small spaces, but those little legs still need exercise.
All dogs have individual personalities. A dog’s temperament has much to do with how we treat them. But different breeds are prone to particular qualities. Some breeds have high energy levels while others are not as playful. Especially in shelter dogs, temperament is something you should look closely at. Research breed specific attitudes, but don’t let that be your only basis. Talk to the shelter staff about individual personalities of the pets they house.
If you have children, a family friendly dog is what you’ll be looking for. You’ll want a dog that can put up with the energy of a child and will handle being bothered without snapping. Older dogs may want to lie around, left alone, more than young dogs.
If you adopt an abused or disabled dog, good for you. But prepare yourself. These guys need extra love, attention, and patience. Caring for these types of dogs is a noble and rewarding undertaking. It takes a lot to make them feel safe and cared for. You may need extra trips to the vet or equipment for dogs with disabilities. An abused dog may exhibit behavioral problems that take time to overcome. It’s all about patience and love.
Are you ready for late nights, accidents, unlimited energy, and hours of training? If you get a puppy, be prepared for all those things. Creating a relationship from scratch with a new puppy is exciting and endearing. It’s also tiring. It’s worth it, but you have to be up for the task. If you’re not there just yet, consider an older dog that has already shaken off his puppy energy and knows how to escort himself out for a pee.
All dogs, like humans, need regular doctor visits. Vaccinations, check-ups, teeth cleaning, medications, and emergencies all cost money. Consider pet health insurance or a small savings plan for medical care for your dog. Skipping care because of financial hardship is a too-common reality. If you prepare for the inevitable cost, it doesn’t have to be.
Pet food is costly, especially with large dogs. You want to feed your dog a healthy diet, and good dog foods are not cheap. Plenty of mid-priced foods will do just fine. Avoid the super-cheap, high-fat, filler-filled foods. Talk to a vet about appropriate foods and ingredients, then plan out how much it will cost to feed your dog. Make sure it’s within budget.
Dogs chew. They dig. They run paths through the grass. With training and age, that usually goes away or reduces significantly. Until then, expect these bad habits to cost you some dollars.
Dogs require time. Playtime, walk time, poop time, feeding time, and training time. Not given proper time, dogs get bored and lonely. Dogs are not things you just have around. They are living beings that need attention, even when it’s not convenient. Before bringing home a dog, be sure you can commit enough time to satisfy it.
Getting a dog is not a light decision. We are responsible for our pets’ lives, their health and happiness. When bringing a dog into your life, make sure you fit the dog and the dog fits you. And please, consider adopting from a shelter. They are full to the brims with loving, homeless pets waiting for someone to rescue them.