Should I get a dog?
This is a very important question everyone should ask themselves prior to searching for their next family member ~ Should I Get a Dog? Just because the kids or you want a dog doesn’t mean you should get one. Having a dog is a lot of responsibility, yes, it’s a lot of fun and they are super great companions. It is important to ensure you are ready for a life long commitment.
Do You Have the Time?
The first question to answer is if you have the time to add a dog to your home. Dogs want to be part of your family and most breeds are not content being excluded from family time. In addition to feeding and watering your dog, they need training and exercise.
Training is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your dog. At minimum you need to teach basic obedience commands and loose leash walking.
Ideally doing advanced training and ultimately getting their Canine Good Citizen title through the AKC. You can learn more about the Canine Good Citizen program here.
Exercise is the second most important thing your dog needs, and this isn’t just physical but mental.
Mental exercise comes in the form of practicing their obedience training, puzzles, and learning new skills.
For most dogs, they need more than just a few throws of the ball around the yard. Working dogs (Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, etc.) will require long walks or runs. But remember no structured running until their growth plates are closed, about 2 years old.
Do You Have the Space?
You don’t need to live in a 50,000-square foot house but you need to have the space in your home for your dog.
You need to provide space for a crate (kennel) where they can comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down. This space is essential for a happy dog, this is their safe space where they can get away from kids or other pets. The crate ideally should be in an area of the home where the dog can still be part of the family but rest when needed.
Active dogs, such as working breeds, will need a lot of exercise. These dogs can absolutely function in an apartment but will require extensive time outdoors to tire them out. Large dogs, such as Newfoundlands, can make great apartment dogs because they quickly outgrow the rambunctious stage.
If you have a puppy, being able to cordon off an area of the home will make potty training easier when they are out of their crate. If you aren’t able to do some make sure you are able to keep your puppy on leash with you can instill the behaviors you want.
Are You Prepared for the Financial Aspects?
Dogs are not cheap animals to own. The adoption fee or purchase price of the dog is generally the least expensive piece of owning dog. Here are some other expenses to make sure you are prepared for:
- Veterinarian – Annual Shots, Microchipping, and Unexpected Illnesses
- Grooming (if your breed needs it ~ they all need a bath occasionally!)
- Toys, Treats, Dog Chews, etc.
- Crate/Kennel, Crate Mats
- Leash (no more than 6 ft), Collar
- Long line (lightweight leash 25ft or so)
- Training – Obedience, Sports (Agility, Dock Diving, Flyball, etc.)
There are options to help with some of these costs, such as using Pet Insurance (which I highly recommend) allowing you to have a monthly fee and being reimbursed after you met your copay and deductible.
What Type of Dog Do We Want?
This is truly the most important question. Whether you want to adopt or select a breed, you need to know what qualities you want in a dog.
Do you want a dog that doesn’t shed? Do you want one that wants a lot of exercise or one that doesn’t need a lot of exercise? Big or small? Do you have kids – are they older or younger – will the dog get along with them?
Not all dogs are good for everyone.
I wouldn’t do well with a Mastiff or a Great Dane because they would be larger than me. Not everyone would do well with a Portuguese Water Dog because they are high energy, super smart, and mouthy.
It’s ok to narrow your list of dog traits down and be very specific. It is better for you and your family to have the RIGHT DOG than it is to have A DOG.
I hope this gets you started on thinking about what is the right dog for you and are you ready for a dog. Leave me a comment if there are any questions you have that I can answer for you or if there is anything you’d like to add.
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should i get a dog