Pets give us unconditional love and loyalty, and provide constant companionship. Adopting a pet, however, is a big decision. Dogs, cats and small animals are living beings that require a considerable amount of time, money and commitment — over 15 years worth in many cases. Pet ownership can be rewarding, but only if you think through your decision before you adopt.
There are many important things to consider before you start looking to buy/adopt a dog – from finding out if you are ready, to discovering the right breed to suit your lifestyle.
You’re going to spend a lot of money.
Whatever you think you’re going to spend on a dog, triple it. Better yet, quadruple it. And depending on your dog, double whatever the sum of your quadrupling.
Americans spent $55.7 billion on pets in 2013. We spent an estimated $58.5 billion in 2014. In fact, every year, we spend billions more than the previous year on our non-human family members. Why? Because we care.
A dog is for life
Owning a dog is a lifetime commitment. Animals develop deep bonds with you and your family. Any change in ownership can be extremely traumatic, so you should be prepared for the responsibility involved in dog ownership. Dog owners need to be able to provide shelter, food, water, medical care, and love and attention.
Check out how dog-friendly your neighborhood is.
How are the dogs that live near you? Is there a park or hiking trails nearby? Where’s the closest vet and 24-hour emergency? Do you have relationships with your neighbors? How socialized your neighbors’ dogs are is an indication of how your own may be – of course, this is up to you as the pack leader, and if your neighborhood doesn’t provide socialization opportunities, you will need to find other ways to properly socialize your new dog.
Be prepared to groom your dog
Groom your dog, making sure to ease into a grooming routine. Begin with shorter sessions, and gradually increase to the normal grooming session. Be sure that whoever is grooming the dog pets it frequently, and that your dog is rewarded in the end. Your dog’s nails should not touch the ground, and your dog should be brushed regularly. This will prevent tangles and reduce the risk of skin irritation. Your vet can help you plan an appropriate grooming schedule for your particular dog, depending on breed and hair type.
Any extra mental and physical energy you have?
When you come home tired at the end of a long work day, the exuberance with which your dog greets you is absolutely wonderful. And now the dog’s stored-up energy needs to be burned off for sanity’s sake.
For the most part, any dog of any size or age needs at least an hour-long walk every day, bare minimum. Dogs with more energy need more walking . If you’re lucky, you may have other people around you who can take on some of that walking. But if you’re not, that means as soon as you walk in the door at the end of the day, you need to turn around and walk out of it, dog in tow.
No matter who your dog is, you’re likely to have some things that you have to invest mental energy into working on every day, on top of the physical energy that goes into making sure the dog is exercised.