What to Know Before Getting a Dog
Thinking of growing your family with the addition of a furry friend? There are few joys in life as pure, rewarding or fulfilling as loving a dog, and your playful pup or grateful rescue will undoubtedly add so much happiness to your family. But owning a pet isn’t all kitten whiskers and puppy kisses, so to speak. It also takes its fair share of time, money and care to ensure a happy, healthy life with your four-legged family member.
1. Dogs Cost Money—We can’t emphasize this enough: dogs take care, and care costs money. In fact, according to research, even experienced pet owners drastically underestimate how much pets cost over their lifetime. Research indicates that people approximate the lifetime cost of dog ownership at around $6,000, when in reality it’s more like $40,000! Here are the costs you’ll need to cover when you own a dog:
-Food, water, treats and food bowls
-A dog identification tag, collar and microchipping
-Spay and neuter costs, which can ring up for as much as $500
-Veterinary care, including vaccines, checkups and unexpected visits for injuries, illness and unexpected health conditions
-Routine medications, including heartworm, flea and tick prevention, which can cost several hundred dollars per year
-Toys, chews, balls and bones
-Pet carrier and crate
-Dog bed and blanket
-Vacation boarding and routine dog walks
-Training and disobedience courses
-Occasional teeth cleanings
-Breeder costs or adoption/rehoming fees
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2. Dogs Take Time—Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not born with all the qualities a pet owner desires. It takes many months of training—which, in turn, takes a whole lot of patience on your behalf—to teach your pup basic social skills and to master potty training, leash training and crate training. What’s more, dogs require dedicated owners to teach them things like swimming and trail running, so don’t expect them to inherently know these skills! Patience is an absolute must with pups.
3. Dogs Take Responsibility—When you have a dog, you cannot take spontaneous vacations or be away from home for extended periods of time. You have to be willing to give your pet routine potty breaks and attention, never leaving him alone for more than six to eight hours, and far less than that if he’s a puppy who’s still potty training and crate training. Dogs don’t do well in isolation, so do not commit to getting one if you can’t commit to giving him a big chunk of your time each day!
4. Dogs Need Attention and Exercise—It’s also important to remember that dogs are like us—they get bored! But unlike us, they can’t do much about it. Bored dogs can be destructive to themselves and their surroundings, so you need to build in time to keep them mentally stimulated—playdates, visits to the dog park, afternoons at doggie daycare, summer swims and plenty of hours tossing the ball in the backyard. Dogs also require physical activity to keep them fit and healthy so they live long, happy lives. Know that daily walks are the bare minimum for puppies and younger dogs.
5. A Little Breed Research Goes a Long Way—Even if you’re planning to rescue a mixed breed from a shelter, understanding different dog breeds can help give you an idea of what it will be like to own a certain dog. Breeds—whether partial or purebred—can give clues to the size, weight, energy level and unique medical considerations of a specific pet. The very best way to research dog breeds is to use the advice provided by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The AKC can also help pair you with a reputable, ethical and responsible breeder should you opt for a purebred pup.
Dogs Are Best Friends for Life
Last but not least: You need to know that a dog will fill your heart with so much love! They can drain your wallet and your time, but the trade-off is so worth it. The bonds we build with our animals enrich our lives in so many ways, and they even lead to happiness and health benefits, like lowered blood pressure and stress. If you’re willing to put in the work, there’s no reason not to enjoy the company and love of a canine companion!