Dogs are amazing creatures. They bring us joy, companionship, comfort, and good health.
But dog ownership is not without its challenges. After all, those cute little paws can cause some massive destruction around a home.
Ready to see what it takes to be a great dog owner?
So before you run to the nearest shelter or a dog breeder, answer the following questions honestly to see if you are truly ready for a dog.
#1 – How much time can you dedicate to your dog every day?
Dogs generally require more time and attention than other pets. Even if you adopt a dog who is a couch potato, you still need to dedicate some time every day to play and/or walk him.
One of the most sacred mantras among dog owners is this:
A tired dog is a good dog.
A dog who doesn’t receive enough mental and physical stimulation is more likely to develop behavioral and health problems, like anxiety.
So if you’d rather plop down and binge-watch your favorite Netflix shows every evening after work, a dog is not the right companion for you.
#2 – What are your options when you work long hours or travel?
As a dog owner, you’re committing to going straight home after work for the next 10-15 years.
Why is this important? It’s simple — can you imagine not being able to use the restroom for 12-14 hours? Not only will you come home to accidents, your dog could also get bladder infections for having to hold for so long.
If you work long hours or travel frequently, do your research on local doggy daycare centers, dog sitters or walkers, or boarding facilities beforehand. If you’re lucky, you could ask a family member or a trustworthy neighbor to let your dog out a few times a day while you travel.
#3 – Can you afford an emergency vet bill?
Nobody likes to be a negative Nancy, but there’s more to being a responsible dog owner than just feeding and walking your dog every day. Accidents or illnesses can happen to any dog, even with the best care.
According to Petplan, a pet insurance company, the average cost of emergency veterinary care is between $800 and $1,500.
There are a few ways to be prepared for an unexpected vet visit:
- Pet insurance
- A savings account
A traditional savings account can be dedicated solely for your dog’s emergency fund. According to Kaplan Financial Advisors, you should earmark at least $10,000 in the fund, or about $100 per month for the average dog who lives 12 years.
#4 – What will your life be like in 5 to 10 years?
We can’t predict the future, but we can try to plan ahead as much as possible. And when you’re a dog owner, it becomes even more important since your dog depends entirely on you.
An average dog’s lifespan is between 10 to 13 years, so consider how pet-friendly your life will be in that time.
Will you move? Get married and have children? Go back to school? Keep in mind that as dogs age, their needs will also change.
#5 – Which breed is right for your family and lifestyle?
Every dog is unique, but doing extensive research on a breed can give you a good idea of what you might be getting when you adopt a dog.
Consider the breed’s size, weight, activity level, temperament, grooming needs, training needs, and any common health issues.
For example, a large, hyperactive dog might not be the best choice for a family with infants or toddlers. If you’re looking for a running partner, a toy breed might not be the best choice for you. Not a fan of vacuuming? Look into dog breeds that don’t shed a lot.
Certain breeds like rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs may be restricted in some cities or counties.
#6 – Do you have the time to train a dog?
Bringing a new dog into your family can be a great experience, but things can quickly turn sour if the new puppy or dog has no manners. From snatching food off the table to peeing on your couch, dogs can exhibit many undesirable behaviors.
Instead of punishing your new furry friend for “bad” behavior, think about it this way: A dog can’t possibly know something you never taught her.
A dog will require lots of consistent, positive interactions to be healthy and well-behaved, so if your lifestyle doesn’t allow you to take time to attend dog training classes, then you’ll want to consider adopting at a different time.
#7 – Should you adopt a puppy or an adult dog?
Everyone loves puppies. And while they’re undeniably cute and cuddly, puppies are A LOT of work.
Peeing and pooping inside the house, chewing, mouthing, barking, whining — these are just a few challenges of puppy ownership.
And while many people adopt puppies believing that they could shape the puppy into the “perfect dog,” many inexperienced owners don’t know what they’re getting into.
Just like human babies, puppies’ temperaments will change as they grow, and even the most perfectly trained puppy might develop personality issues as an adult.
On the other hand, an adult dog is more likely to have a developed personality and may also be house-trained. A reputable rescue group can find the right adult dog for you.
#8 – Is everyone in your family (including the furry members) involved in this decision?
Adding a new dog to your family is an important, exciting decision that affects everyone in your family — including any other pets you may already have.
Make sure everyone is involved throughout the entire process, from choosing the right dog to helping the dog feel welcomed into its new home.
Take special care to introduce the new dog slowly to the existing animals in your home. A rushed introduction can result in devastating consequences. An experienced trainer can help you conduct introductions safely and efficiently in a neutral territory.
#9 – Are you really ready to get a dog?
Dog ownership is not all unicorns and rainbows; it requires hard work and patience.
Dogs might just be the closest thing to a human baby.
If you don’t believe that you are ready to be responsible for the wellness of another living being, definitely reconsider getting a pet.
#10 – Why do you want a dog?
This is the most important question you must ask yourself before adopting a dog.
Dog ownership is a huge responsibility, yet it is a wonderful privilege.
Getting a dog just because everyone else in your neighborhood has one will quickly overwhelm you. A dog is not a stuffed animal, a gift, or a toy that you can discard — you should be ready to make a commitment to the dog for the rest of its life.
The only thing a dog loves more than itself is you. Dogs love unconditionally, but due to no fault of their own, millions end up in shelters every year. This can change if more people do their research prior to getting a dog.
If you got this far and dog ownership still appeals to you, that’s awesome! Life is much more exciting with a dog.
As a final recommendation, we suggest that you try volunteering at your local animal shelter first. This will give you some exposure to the needs and temperaments of different breeds. And who knows, you might meet your new best friend there!