Having a dog is one of life’s great pleasures. Sharing your life with man’s best friend brings enormous benefits in terms of companionship, in simple affection and in learning to take responsibility.
Dog ownership is also beneficial to both mental and physical health. But pet ownership is not something to enter into lightly. Dogs require a great deal of exercise, and a proper health and nutritional programme. Remember that your dog will need your care every single day of its life.
If you’re considering getting a dog, think carefully about what that will entail. Ask yourself these 5 questions and only if you can answer positively should you find a four-legged friend.
1. Can you afford a dog?
It’s not simply the initial outlay, although a pedigree pup can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds. You’ll also need to take into account the cost of food, vaccinations and pet insurance, and other factors such as grooming, kennelling and dog walking. Add up what that will cost you on a monthly or annual basis and ask if you can afford a dog.
2. Does my lifestyle suit dog ownership?
Many of us are seduced by the idea of having a dog and how that pet will encourage us to exercise more or provide us with much-needed companionship. However, if you work full-time and will be leaving your dog for long periods every day, you’re not being fair on either of you. Dogs are sociable creatures and leaving them alone can cause behavioural problems, such as separation anxiety or chewing. Can you afford a reduction in working hours or perhaps working from home when possible to accommodate your pooch?
3. Am I fit enough to give my dog the exercise it needs?
Often we get a dog to get fit and that’s a super idea. But depending on what breed you choose, you may bite off more than you can chew. Larger breeds often need lots of exercise and may be difficult to control. Think of the breed you want and ask yourself if can be the owner this dog needs. Remember, your dog will need exercise every single day, rain or shine – if you can’t imagine going out in the worst weather, you’re not ready for a dog.
4. Is my home suitable for a dog?
The ideal home situation for a dog is one with a garden or at least close access to green space. While living in an apartment is not a complete no-no for dog ownership, your flat may not be ideal for a dog. You also have to take your neighbours into consideration – a barking dog is one of the most common causes of friction in shared living spaces. If you have children, think carefully of how you can manage them and the dog as even the best-behaved dog can be unpredictable around a child.
5. Am I prepared to have the dog dominate my free time and holidays?
No one is saying you have to spend every spare minute with your mutt but when you want a holiday or weekend without the dog, you need to make the right arrangements for its care in plenty of time. Finding good kennels or overnight care for a dog can’t be done at the last minute – you need to trust that those you leave your dog with will genuinely take care of it.
A dog really is a friend for life but this friend is also one who depends on you entirely. If you’re not ready to make this commitment, you’re not ready to become a dog owner.
Percy Jackson owns 2 dogs and has been involved in the care of all other pets for many years now. He has built up a great variety of experience in this time and shares a lot of it on his website Percy’s Pets where you can not only learn more about dog care but also information on loads of other pets.
Photo source: chelsea-girl