Six things to consider before getting a dog

Sally Keegan

It’s true what they say: if you’re lucky, a dog will come into your life, steal your heart and change everything.

Wondering whether or not you should get a dog? Every proud pooch owner will tell you that a four-pawed friend will fill your world with love, joy and laughter. But with every great dog comes great responsibility, and so we’ve put together the top six things to consider before getting a dog for the first time.

1) A dog is for life

Whether you’re considering getting a puppy, a teenage pooch or an old-timer, you need to be prepared to care for them forever. This means loving them unconditionally for their entire life, providing everything they need to be happy, secure, and healthy.

It’s also important to understand the emotional investment you’ll be making when getting a dog. Although they’ll only be around for a relatively short time in your family’s life, the bond between you and your buddy will last long after they’re gone.

2) If you can’t afford the vet, you can’t afford the pet

As well as time and emotion, dog owners need to be prepared to provide for the pooch financially. This will include paying for daily requirements such as food and dietary sundries, to more expensive and essential costs such as routine, basic, or emergency veterinary care.

Additional costs can include beds, blankets, toys, grooming kits, car safety harnesses, training classes, insurance, visits to the groomers and, for working families, doggy daycare.

Whatever the age of the dog, there may even be expenses you’ve not planned for; while older dogs may need more regular visits to the vets, puppies love to chew and many won’t think twice to using even the most expensive shoe as a teething tool.

Ultimately, it’s really important to ask yourself, can I afford a dog?

3) Do you have time for a dog?

A bored and lonely dog can be destructive and, worse, depressed. So, before getting a dog you must make sure you have plenty of time to provide them with all the attention they need.

Socialising, exercising, training, playing, cuddling — while you’ll likely love every moment you spend with your pooch, your furry friend will take up a lot of your time. This is particularly true when they’re pups, as you’ll need to dedicate hours to toilet training and establishing their all-important routine.

4) Who will look after your dog when you’re away?

Whether it’s a long weekend away or an unexpected trip, there will almost certainly be times you need to travel without your dog. So, it’s important to decide what you’ll do with your new pooch pal when you’re away.

Those getting a dog for the first time may not know that not all dogs are suited to traditional boarding options, such as kennels. For example, if you adopt a dog from a shelter, leaving their new home to return to a boarding environment can be distressing. However, pet sitters are a kind and popular alternative to dog kennels that suits almost all pooches, so there’s no need for your love of travel to stand in the way of you getting a dog.

5) What type of dog will suit your lifestyle?

You’ll need to carefully consider your lifestyle and decide what type of dog you’re best suited to take care of. For instance, if you live in a small apartment with no outdoor space, getting a high energy dog such as a Springer Spaniel will cause stress for everyone involved.

When choosing what type of dog to get, it’s important to remember that the only choices dogs have are the ones we make for them. So be sure to lead with your head and not your heart.

6) Where will you find your dog?

The most common places to get a dog are rescue shelters and breeders. Whether you choose to adopt or buy a dog, there will almost always be a cost involved. Of course, breeders charge as dogs are their business, while rescue centres charge a fee. This fee is usually to help cover the cost of your dog being spayed or neutered, microchipped, being brought up to date with their shots, and a veterinary exam and behavioral assessment.

Remember, if you choose to get a dog from a breeder, it's important to do your research; make sure they are a reputable breeder who is happy for you to meet the pup’s mum.

Are you ready to get a dog?

If you've read all six points and are still ready for the responsibility of a pooch, then you’re about to be rewarded with more love, loyalty, and joy you can imagine. If you’re not quite ready, whether you’re too busy with work or you’re not financially fit to commit to a dog, then we’d recommend exploring the wonderful world of pet sitting.

By joining TrustedHousesitters as a house and pet sitter, you can spend quality time with cute pooches around the world, staying with them in their home while their owners are away — it’s the perfect way to fill that pet-shaped hole in your heart.

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