Making the decision to purchase a dog is often done without first considering exactly what the new pet will mean to the family. Staring into those big, sad eyes can turn any rational adult into an impulsive buyer. While caring for a dog can be extremely rewarding for both caretaker and animal, dog ownership requires time, money, and energy (some breeds require more energy than others). When purchasing a dog, it is best to research different breeds and temperaments, and choose a dog that fits your situation well.
Today, many families have dual income, and work outside of the home. Why is this important to consider when purchasing a pet? Well, for families in this circumstance, there will be no one home all day to let Fido out! A new puppy needs to be taken outside constantly to establish the outdoors as the potty area. Indoor training mats are a short term solution for potty training a puppy, but you still have to be near to train the puppy exactly where to go, and persistently reinforce correct behavior. And yes, the puppy will even need to go outside at night. If hauling your dog outside at 2:00 am in the middle of winter does not sound appealing, maybe wait until spring for a new pet. Take a hard look at exactly how much time is spent at home vs. away. If you are constantly away from your home, whether for work or travel, think about how this will affect your dog emotionally (you are their pack!), and affect you financially.
Let’s say that you decide to buy a dog, and since you will be at work during the weekdays, you hire a pet sitter to come walk Fido each afternoon. Before you hired of course, you researched area pet sitters to find a good, reliable caretaker. This pet sitter charges fifteen dollars per walk. At five walks per week, you are spending seventy-five dollars per week, or three-hundred dollars per month. That’s a car payment! You also want to make sure that your dog is current on vaccinations, so you take him to the vet. Vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and worm medication add up to two-hundred dollars or more, depending on what you need. The expenses begin to amass, especially if you choose to take your dog to a groomer, or enroll the animal in a dog training program. Unfortunately, dogs whose owners did not plan for the added expense end up in animal shelters. Before you buy, make sure you find a place for your dog in the family budget.
What may be even more important than fitting a dog into your budget, however, is choosing a breed that will fit your family’s personality. If you know you are a push-over, do not buy a stubborn or strong-willed breed! If you have children, be sure to select a breed that is calm, docile, and forgiving. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a smaller dog will be easier to control; however, size does not always dictate behavior. Make sure you research each breed, consider size and temperament, as well as the home which will house the animal. While many dog breeds will do well in apartments or suburban homes, others would much prefer to live on a farm with cows to herd and plenty of space to run. That being said, every dog of every breed is an individual. Just like people, each puppy has its very own personality. Think about having your dog or puppy “temperament tested” by a professional dog trainer. What you find out may save you much trouble down the road, for, if you are aware that your dog has a nervous personality, you can plan ahead for it and not come home to a half-eaten couch!
Whew, with all of that to think about, dog ownership may seem a scary endeavor. While you can expect to lose a pair of socks to a chew episode, and maybe a few oops spots on the carpet, you can also expect a companion that will love you unconditionally. Becoming a dog owner enters you into a partnership that will be life long, and may even teach you a few things about love, respect, and responsibility along the way. Dogs don’t care if your breath smells, or whether or not you’ve showered this morning, or even that you left the entire sink full of dishes last night. They just want to be near you, get a pat now and then, and protect you from harm. Think long and hard before buying a dog, but once you do, it may surprise you just how quickly this animal becomes an invaluable member of your family.