Dogs are companions and become part of the family. They can bring a lot of joy and happiness to the home. However, they are a major commitment and there are many things you need to consider.
Here are 14 questions you should ask yourself before getting a dog.
1. Can You Afford A Dog?
You may be able to afford the initial cost of a dog, however, consider the ongoing costs of vet bills, toys, insurance, food, the list goes on.
2. Are You Allowed To Have Pets Where You Live?
If you live in rented accommodation and do not own your house, you will need to check whether your landlord has any pet restrictions. Many landlords may not allow any pets at all or specify no dogs. If you live in a flat, the building management may have size restrictions to dogs, if they allow any at all. Ensure you ask your landlord for permission and enquire whether this will lead to an increase in rent. It is not worth the risk of getting a dog in the hope that no one will find out.
3. Do You Have Enough Time For A Dog?
Unlike cats that are extremely independent or smaller animals like fish that do not need a lot of attention, dogs require a lot of time and energy. If you are thinking of getting a dog, ensure you make their life enjoyable by providing them with enough exercise, company, attention and care every day.
Puppies will need even more attention and care, which you need to be aware of. If you travel a lot with the family or with work, do you have realistic plans in place as to who will look after your dog? Do you have family members that would be willing to help? Although most dogs will be okay in the house for a few hours whilst you are at work, you should never leave your dog alone all day.
If you have a family home, ensure the entire family want to have a dog and are all prepared to help. However, you should understand who has the main responsibility of care for the dog in advance.
4. Do You Have The Patience Necessary For Dog Training?
Puppy training can be extremely challenging. They regularly chew things and destroy things, so puppy training can help teach them how to behave. However, thorough training takes time, effort and a lot of patience. Although it can be frustrating when dogs destroy your possessions, you need to try and not get angry as this will not help them stop the behaviour and can just make them nervous and scared. It is not just puppies that require training. Even if older dogs have previously been trained – they may require retraining.
Many dog trainers will also advise that training sessions are as much about the owners as they are about the dogs. An owner should learn the commands and be able to identify a dog’s signals and each member of the household should use the same commands.
5. Will You Be Able To Exercise Your Dog On A Regular Basis?
Do you have enough time to fit exercising your dog into your daily schedule? Dogs need to be exercised not only to keep fit but also for mental stimulation. Walks are a great opportunity for your dog to meet other dogs which is great for socialising.
Again, puppies will require more exercise and play than an older dog, but all dogs need daily exercise regardless of what breed or age they are. If you have a busy day, are you prepared to find time to still go for a walk?
6. Which Breed Is The Best Fit For You?
Some people know exactly which breed of dog they want whilst others don’t. Ensure you do the research first before you decide as the breed can make a huge difference. Discover as much information about the breed you want before you get the dog as some breeds are known for being more at risk of medical problems. This could impact the dog’s life and also involve higher amounts of care and medical costs.
Each breed of dog has different personality traits which you should research before making any decision about getting a dog.
7. Do You Have Any Children?
Although there are some breeds of dogs that get on well with children, they are still animals and there is no guarantee that they will get on with the children so care should be taken. Before you bring the dog home, teach your children how to look after a pet, and what behaviours they should avoid around the dog, such as climbing on its back or pulling its tail.
8. Do You Have Enough Space?
If you are going for a larger breed of dog, ensure you have sufficient space in your home for you all to live side-by-side. Consider the size of your garden. Ideally, you should have enough garden space or an outdoor area large enough for the dog to run around and go to the toilet. If you do not have a large garden, do you have outdoor areas around you for them to run around and play?
9. Do You Have Other Pets?
Take into consideration the impact a dog will have on any other pets you may already have. Although some cats and dogs can bond well, sometimes they can tolerate each other and in other circumstances the mix can cause trouble and friction.
10. What Are Your Future Plans?
If the answers to the above questions are all positive then you could be well-matched to get a dog. However, before you bring them home, there are several other questions you should ask yourself to ensure you are fully prepared for their arrival.
11. Do You Have Everything Ready For The Arrival Of The Dog?
Purchase what your dog might need in advance of getting a dog. It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Ensure you have a lead, food and water bowls, food, a well-fitted dog collar and tag, a dog bed and dog toys. Having all of these set up for when the dog arrives home can help them start to feel comfortable and can help transition them and acclimatise them to their new home.
12. Is Your House Safe And Suitable For A Dog?
Be aware of the most common pet hazards your dog may face in your home. Ensure you get to learn which food items dogs must avoid such as caffeine, chocolate or garlic and understand which household products should be kept out of reach, such as cleaning products or medicines.
13. Do You Have A Vet Selected?
When getting a dog, one of the first things to consider is registering at the vet of your choice. Schedule a visit within the first week or so of bringing your dog home. This initial appointment can ensure your dog is up to date with their vaccinations and that they have no obvious issues. It will also give you peace of mind that you have them registered at a vet in case there is an emergency. Before choosing your vet, do your research to ensure they have a good reputation and are in a convenient location to you.
14. Have You Organised Having Your Dog Spayed Or Neutered?
Speak to your vet about getting your dog spayed or neutered. If you have adopted a rescue dog, they may already be spayed or neutered however this is dependent on their age. Always check whether they have been or not. Not only does it stop your dog from breeding and leaving you with a surprise litter of puppies, the surgery can help your dog live a healthier life by preventing certain illnesses.
For advice on dog care, training, behaviour therapy and more, please visit our articles page which is full of free advice.