Introducing a dog into your life can be a challenge and may not be the dream of wet kisses, soft fur, happy barks, and energetic tail wags that you dreamed about. You need to keep a level head and think carefully if you should take a dog into your home. Dogs can be truly enchanting creatures with their quirky characters, unconditional love, and extorting puppy eyes. Therefore, you should have a practical approach to acquiring a dog so you are not caught unprepared.
Most people are attracted to the idea of having a dog due to the cute videos on the Internet, their friends parading their dogs in the park, and on social media. However, dogs are not some magical creatures that radiate love and happy thoughts. Dogs can be very good and they can be very unruly sometimes. Dogs are very emotion-driven and will need one or two years to build a character (if you are getting a puppy) and some may need up to a year to adjust to a new environment (if you are taking a rescue). You will need to make sacrifices with your schedule, plans for the year ahead and be aware of your responsibilities related to your new family member. We have prepared six important topics to consider while you are mulling over if you should get a dog.
If you are a person who prides themselves on their very clean and tidy home, a dog will not fit into your vision of a clean home. Dogs shed, they bring in dirt from outside, and some love to take mud baths on the way home. You can always bring a towel to your front door and clean up your dog as best as you can, but you should expect to notice fine hair on your couch, chairs, carpet, furniture, and clothing. Most dogs need to go for walks even when it is raining outside and you may have a hard time later if you are particularly averse to the wet dog smell. Going in the bath with your dog every time they return from a walk will be very tedious and I am not sure most people will be ready to commit to a rigorous hygiene routine.
2. Living situation.
A person living in a small apartment that barely fits them inside is not likely to consider taking in a dog seriously. Dogs, like humans, need their own space for a bed, food and water bowls, maybe a toilet, and a bit of room to play. A spacious apartment with a few well-lit windows will be a comfortable place for a dog and their human family. If you have a park that is close by that will sweeten the deal. A family with a house and a yard (even if it is not a big one) will be great for raising medium and some large dog breeds.
You also need to think about your landlord and pet policy if you are living in a rented property. Some condominiums do not allow dogs or cats, or any pets, and even some neighbor associations impose limitations on what pets you can have at home. If you have flatmates or children, their attitude towards dogs will be important to consider as well.
3. Free time.
It is recommended for families to think about who will be taking care of the dog and who will share the responsibility for it. You should think about how you will handle your share of tasks and plan your day accordingly. Some families may delegate tasks to their children and you will need to consider grooming an integral part of the dog’s routine. Dogs will require a significant portion of your time and unlike your phone, they can not be left on standby. Regular walks, grooming, feeding, and going to the veterinarian will cost you time which you may have preferred to use differently earlier. Most dogs need a walk early in the morning and late in the afternoon or the evening. There are some breeds that can go with an evening walk only, but this will still require you to be dedicated. A dog with a lot of excess energy can bite things like your furniture, destroy your shoes and pillows, and should not be allowed to their own devices.
It is important to note that you will need to consider training sessions if you are going to take a puppy. Even if you bring your puppy to a dog training school for a board and train you will still need time to commute. Alternatively, taking a dog from a shelter or a rescue is a good idea because they are likely to have built character, social skills, pick up cues easily and have some training experience. Adopting a dog through a shelter or a rescue is a great opportunity to provide home and love for them and skip expensive training sessions or deal with an unruly pup making a mess out of your new carpet and shoes.
4. Activity level.
People who love to run, walk in the park, hike, and generally do outdoor activities will be pleased to know that there are plenty of high-energy dogs that would enjoy accompanying them. There are many breeds that would enjoy a slow evening with you on the couch too, provided you spare some time to take them out for at least an hour. Dogs have been domesticated for at least 15 thousand years and some scientists have put theories that dogs have been domesticated as early as 20 thousand years ago. Dogs have adapted to our lifestyles quite well and there are plenty of breeds that could suit your activity level. Our paw partners love to explore and people who travel a lot will find that dogs can be amazing travel companions. If you are not sure about what breed might fit you best – do a search online or ask a friendly veterinarian.
As mentioned above, introducing a dog into your life is a big step and can be a challenge to fit into your daily life. You need to make a careful decision on what type of dog you want and how it might react to your living conditions and activity level. The breeds with roots in the hunting world are inquisitive, have a strong character, and high-energy. The breeds created to be companions and serve as status symbols are intelligent, love to please their owner, and can be very attached. Some breeds are more suited to a laid-back culture and can thrive in small apartments. Others need 2 or even 3 hours of activity to be calm and responsive at home or you might find your home devastated by a dog with too much energy to burn and no opportunity to do so. There are the breeds of working dogs that need their mind and body dedicated to a task, these dogs will not handle a laid-back owner very well and may develop behavioral problems. Some dogs are very easy to train at home and be taught to perform small tricks like jumping through hoops, running through obstacles, and retrieving items. Choose wisely as your next family member will require dedication, respect, and love.
The last part of this article is dedicated to how you want to acquire a dog for yourself or for your family. There are many breeders who have a presence online and promise to provide you with a purebred animal for the right price. The market for dogs is not regulated and some breeders engage in unethical breeding practices that produce vulnerable and mistreated dogs with an attractive label. On the other hand, you have the opportunity to visit rescue homes and shelters that host plenty of socialized, trained, and vaccinated dogs with kind souls that are ready to love you until their last day.
This is the right time to encourage you to check the prices for veterinary services in your area and talk to your friends who already own a dog. It is recommended to check the prices of grooming specialists and pet insurances as well. Both can keep your dog healthy and protected so you should think about this carefully. If you are on a very limited budget and don’t have any money saved for emergencies a dog in crisis can be something very frightening, stressful, and heart-wrenching. Dogs are like people and they can get sick, suffer an injury, and experience health issues that are hard to detect. You need to have a fund prepared in case you need to cover unforeseen medical expenses.
Hopefully, by the end of reading this article, you will have a good understanding of what it means to introduce a dog into your life. If you need help choosing a breed, please check our articles and consider the Canine Good Citizen obedience classes for your dog.