Written Ami Patrick for One Kind Planet
Dogs are amazing. They are man’s best friend, and we share almost every aspect of our human lives with them, from working to companionship.
Welcoming a dog into your home is a big commitment, though and not a decision to take lightly. Just take a look at your local rescue centre to see the results of people buying on a whim or without research. The number of dogs left homeless is shocking. So, if you are considering welcoming a new dog into your home, please consider these ten points first.
Is this the right time for a dog?
Whether you are thinking about a young puppy or an older rescue dog, a new dog will require time to settle into your home. Make sure all other areas of your life are in order so that you can concentrate fully on helping your new dog to settle in. If you are about to move to a new home, welcome a baby, or even host a busy family gathering, now may not be the time. Think: is it fair to expect a dog to cope with this on top of a new home?
Can I afford a dog?
Dogs are expensive; the initial adoption or purchase cost is only the start. They require feeding, worming, and vaccinations as standard, with the potential for further expenses in the case of accidents or illnesses. Your dog could be with you for fifteen years and, like us, elderly dogs often require medication. Whether you choose to open a savings account to prepare for nasty surprises or buy pet insurance, the overall lifetime cost of your dog is a crucial thing to consider.
Do I have time for a dog?
Dogs need your time, from regular walks and cuddles to training, veterinary appointments and socializing. They shouldn’t be left alone all day and need care while you are at work or on holiday, so you need to consider who will look after them when you can’t and the cost implications of this. Many services are available but take time to make sure you find a responsible one.
Do I have space for a dog?
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but even the smallest dog requires space, from somewhere quiet to relax to an area for play. Consider whether you have access to a garden for your dog to go to the toilet and green space a walk. A safe space for your dog to enjoy time off lead is also important.
The wide variety of dog breeds means there is a dog for almost everyone. But, it is vitally important to choose based on lifestyle rather than appearance as all breeds have very different needs. Siberian Huskies, for example, were bred to run so won’t be happy left in a flat alone all day with a ten-minute walk to the shop in the evening. Many purebred dogs are also prone to certain health problems that you’ll need to research carefully before choosing.
What age of dog is right for me?
Adult dog or puppy? Both require investment and training. An older dog, for example, will probably be house trained, neutered and have some level of basic obedience training. However, they may have had negative experiences and therefore have behavioral or medical issues. Puppies, on the other hand, need to learn everything from you. Training is hard but rewarding work. You’ll need to introduce them carefully to lots of positive new experiences, and they will make plenty of mistakes as they learn!
Where will my dog come from?
Dogs should only come from reputable breeders or rescue centers. NEVER buy a dog online. Puppy farming is a major problem, so take someone experienced with you when you visit. Warning signs include being unable to see puppies with their mother, mixtures of litters and breeds or any signs of illness. If in doubt, walk away and report it. Be prepared to wait – responsible breeders only have a few litters each year while rescue centers require home checks. They should match you with a dog based on your home and lifestyle, not allow you to choose any dog you want.
What facilities are available for my dog?
Before you go ahead with bringing a dog into your home, find out what facilities and support are available where you live. Your dog will need a good veterinary clinic and responsible, positive-based training classes to attend, as well as potentially a groomer, dog walker and boarding kennels. Ask friends where they would recommend and visit to get a sense of the places your dog will be spending time. A negative experience can have a massive impact on any dog so far better to do your research now and avoid problems later.
What do my family think about a dog?
Strange as it may seem, not everyone is a dog lover! Unless you live alone, your dog will be sharing his new home with other family members who should be involved in the decision-making. Some people may be allergic to dogs or even scared of them, and don’t forget to think about regular visitors and any current pets. Cats can live harmoniously alongside dogs, but this is something you would need to discuss with a rescue centre, as some dogs may not be suitable. Rabbits, hamsters and other small prey animals are important too and need to be kept safe from what is a natural predator!
Do I have the commitment required for a dog?
Dogs are an incredible commitment. If you are house-proud, consider that a new puppy will have toilet mishaps and chew illicit objects (even adult dogs are not immune to this)! If you are a fair-weather walker, consider that your dog will need walking every day in all weathers and will become unhappy and potentially destructive without. If you are impatient, remember that your dog will not understand shouting and will require kind, patient and considerate training throughout his entire life. Dogs are not machines and, like each of us, they make mistakes!