Having a dog can be a rewarding experience for you and your family. At the same time, your adorable canine companion could turn out to be a living nightmare. Remember that a dog’s life spans over 15 to 20 years, so getting one requires a lifelong commitment. Consider the following factors before you decide:
1. Objective. Ask yourself why you would want one. Is it solely to appease your children, or do you love dogs so much that you cannot imagine being without one? Your objective can also help determine the breed you should get. Labradors make gentle family dogs, while Rottweilers are great at guarding your home and family.
2. Budget. Dogs can be very expensive. Other than food, take into account the cost of regular veterinary checkups, health care, and routine vaccinations. Add other basic expenses, such as leashes, collars, treats, toys, and a comfortable bed. If you are going on vacation and cannot bring your pet, the cost of kenneling your pet during your absence can be exorbitant.
3. Living space. Consider whether you have sufficient space to keep a canine pet. Living in a small apartment means taking your pet out more often to exercise it and allow it to relieve itself. If you live in a house, you may need to fence your backyard to prevent your dog from straying outside. In addition, some breeds require more space to move about than others, so research well beforehand to choose a breed that suits your living space.
4. Time. Dogs are social creatures that require your attention for their mental, emotional, and physical health. This means that you’ll have to dedicate a certain amount of time every day to walking, exercising, training, grooming, and playing with it. Be prepared for early morning walks before you leave for work and evening runs when you return home.
5. Training and Exercise. Training your canine to obey you takes plenty of patience and understanding. If you lack the time to teach your dog properly, behavioral problems such as disobedience and aggression may result. Since dogs learn through repetition, it is necessary for you to practice consistency in your training methods. Research training techniques thoroughly and ask yourself if you are up to the task.
6. Responsibilities. Bear in mind the responsibilities that you will have as an owner. If you do not intend to breed your pet, then spaying or neutering it avoids puppies that you may not have sufficient resources to care for. There are also laws regarding pet identification via a tagged collar or an electronic implant. Other responsibilities include caring for your pet’s well-being by providing nutritional food and keeping it well-groomed. Cleaning up after your dog is mandatory to prevent diseases affecting your pet and family.
7. Grooming. Grooming your pet is essential to maintain its health. Bathing and brushing keeps the fur from becoming tangled and messy. Clipping the claws when they are too long prevents your dog from tearing up your home or digging holes in your cushions. Brushing it’s teeth improves its breath while warding off dental problems. Checking your pet for ticks and fleas regularly is also critical. You must carry out these grooming tasks yourself or have enough finances to pay for a professional groomer.
8. Lifestyle Changes. Before deciding to keep a dog, ask yourself how it will affect your lifestyle. If you are single and a workaholic or a socialite, you will not have the time necessary to care for your it. Having a pet means that you may have to give up your late nights at work and social gatherings or find someone else to provide it with the attention it needs. Also think about how your life will affect your pet. If you are a restless traveler or a high school student moving far away to college, you will be absent from your dog’s life. Unless you are seriously prepared to include a pet in your life, these unsettling times are not the best moments to get a canine companion.
Animal shelters are filled with puppies and dogs abandoned by owners who were initially thrilled at getting a pet, but later balked at the huge amount of responsibility involved in caring for it. A dog is for life. You should give thought to all of the above factors before committing yourself to one.