Everyone loves puppies. Those cute, wrinkly faces can melt a heart of stone into a stick of butter. Unfortunately, people think that owning a dog is fun AND easy. With reckless abandon, they jump into pet ownership. About 2 days in, they realize it was a huge mistake and that they were not ready for the responsibilities that come with owning an animal.
Don’t get it twisted. I love seeing pets go to good homes, but there is nothing worse than people who adopt or buy a puppy, only to abandon it two weeks, five months, or even three years down the road. Owning a dog is a commitment that lasts 10-15 years – sometimes more. It isn’t a decision you make on a whim.
Choosing to own a dog takes careful consideration, and I urge you to think through the following items to determine if you are ready to add another member to your family. Notice how I said family… A dog is a new family member.
Are you financially prepared?
Owning a dog is not cheap. There are all kinds of variables that come into play with dog ownership. Here are some of the expenses related to owning a dog:
- Shots, spay/neuter, flea and worm prevention meds ($50-$200)
- Supplies (bedding, kennel, toys, grooming equipment ($50-$200)
- Food ($25-$100/month)
- Daycare and/or boarding (if needed, price varies $200-$600)
- Emergency care (if necessary, costs are endless)
- Additional pet rent (if in an apartment/condo, $20-$60)
- Pet Insurance (not required, but nice to have, $15-$60/month)
Note that most of these expenses are revolving. I have been fortunate that Motley has never needed emergency treatment. He is a low-maintenance dog. However, larger dogs are more expensive to care for, while some dogs may need more grooming than others. Every dog is different and your expenses could be more or less.
If you are not confident in your ability to pay for a dog’s needs over the course of his/her life, DO NOT GET A DOG.
Do you understand what owning a dog means?
I love when people who have never owned a dog get their first puppy and experience the joys and frustrations that come with it. However, some people are not cut out for the responsibilities of owning a dog. I am not against inexperienced people owning dogs, but they need to understand what they’re getting into. Having a dog means agreeing to care for another creature for its lifetime.
I had a co-worker who bought a $500 puppy, only to return it to the breeder 3 months later. His reasoning? It wouldn’t go to the bathroom in a litterbox. When he realized the dog would never go in a litter box, he got rid of it. Not everyone is as dumb as my co-worker, but it proves true that you need to understand what owning a dog entails before bringing it into your home.
Owning a dog requires a lifestyle change. It’s a lot like caring for a kid. Parents, do not get mad at me for saying this. It is true. If you can care for a crying puppy for 8-12 months, you can care for a kid. You will lose sleep at night. You will wake up every two hours to take the puppy outside to relieve itself. You will deal with teething and chewing. A puppy will put things in its mouth that it shouldn’t. Who is going to care for the puppy during the day? Can you afford doggy daycare? It’s very similar to having a child. Are you sure you’re ready for that kind of responsibility?
Is your home suitable for a dog?
Finally, do you have the right kind of home for a dog? Some dogs love that apartment life! However, some dogs, especially larger breeds, need room to run and play. If you like exercising and being outside, this can be combatted, but most people are couch potatoes – myself included. If you live in an apartment but want a Great Dane, you might need to reconsider owning a dog until you purchase a home with a yard, or when you can afford to put it in doggy daycare every day at work.
Do you have small children? Is someone in your house allergic to pet dander? Do you have expensive items that you don’t want to be destroyed, covered in hair, or slobbered on? These are important to think about when bringing a pet into your home.
Sometimes, the idea of a having a dog sounds fun and exciting, but there is so much more to dog ownership than meets the eye. Be prepared to handle all the responsibilities of owning a dog before you jump into this kind of pet ownership. If you’re unsure, fish are a great place to start!