Dog ownership has many benefits and rewards. It is easy to look at someone playing in the park or out for a walk with their dog and think how great it would be to own a dog. Dogs are wonderful companions who are always happy to see you and never get mad at you. But caring for a dog is a huge responsibility, both in time and money that should not be taken lightly. Below we will explore the benefits of having a dog and ask 6 questions to help you decide if you are really ready for a dog.
The Benefits of Dog Ownership
As previously stated owning a dog has many benefits. Here are just five of the ways they can help make you happier and healthier:
- Dog are great motivators to get you to go for that daily walk or run. You may not feel like exercising, but your dog needs to stretch their legs every day and who can say no to that sweet face.
- They can help you become more social. Dog owners tend to keep to a walk/exercise schedule, which allows you to see the same people every day. The more you run into someone the more likely you will start a conversation. Plus you already have something in common to talk about.
- Reduced stress from increased exercise and social contact along with having that faithful companion waiting for you at home.
- Dogs can give you a sense of security. They often hear noises we don’t and sound the alarm.
- Owning a dog can give you purpose. Having a purpose in life contributes in a positive way towards your health and happiest. People who live a purpose driven life are known to live longer.
Are you ready for a dog?
While owning a dog is a wonderful experience, you need to make sure you’re ready for the responsibility.
It’s important to ask yourself some hard questions and also make sure to ask anyone who will be living with the dog the same questions.
1. Do you have the time for a dog?
Someone needs to take the pup for a walk at least three/four times a day and also spend time playing with them. You also need time for training and general daily maintenance like feeding, grooming, brushing their teeth and cleaning up after your dog.
2. Are you prepared for the expense of dog ownership
Caring for a dog can be expensive. Dog care includes regular veterinary care, such as annual exams and vaccinations as well as food, bedding, training, toys, grooming and a dog walker or doggy day care. To get a better idea of what you need for your new dog read our post on the 7 items you must have for your new puppy.
Plus as your pup ages there is a greater chance that they will need additional medical care.
3. Are you willing to include a dog in all aspects of your life?
Dogs are highly social animals that are at their best when they are actively involved in as much of your life as possible. A dog that is left alone most of the day will become lonely and destructive.
4. Do you have what it takes to train a dog?
Most behavioral problems with dogs come from training or lack of it. Dogs need to be trained to know how to act. If you don’t train them properly they will do anything they please, which will not please you. You need to be consistent, firm but loving. If you don’t know how to train a dog look for a good dog training class to attend.
5. Do you have the space for a dog?
Dogs can take up a lot of space. Smaller dogs take up less space but you still need a place for a crate or bed, food and water bowls, food storage and toys. Ideally, there will be some space to play inside on rainy days. Also make sure you are allowed to have a dog where you live.
6. Are you willing to make a lifetime commitment to your dog?
Dogs can live a long time. Large dogs can live between 10 to 13 years.Small dogs can live between 13 to 18 years.But these are just averages, some dogs may live longer.
Looking into the future
Before deciding if you are ready for a dog you need to consider your lifestyle now and over the next 10 years.
- What does your work schedule look like now and in the next few years? Often as we move up the ladder we need to put in more time at the office and more time traveling. Talk to people who are further along on your chosen career path to see how much time you will have in five years
- You may be single right now, but what do you envision happening with your four legged friend when you meet the man or women of your dreams?
- Take a hard look at your expenses and disposable income. Are you willing to give up getting the newest smart phone or chic pair of shoes to pay for any unscheduled health issues? As dogs age they tend to have more health issues. Pet health insurance can help to smooth out these costs, but make sure you know what you are getting in a policy. You can learn more about Pet Health Insurance in the post Pet Insurance – 8 Things You Should Know
- You really need to know what dog care costs are in your area. Vet bills, dog food, supplies, dog walkers, and boarding all have different cost depending on where you live. Estimate how often you will use these services and then call around to see how much they cost. Like all other expenses you should have an annual budget for your dog. Keep in mind that these costs will increase with inflation.
Try a trial run
Before getting a dog of your own, consider offering to watch a friend’s dog for a week or more to get a feel for what it is like and the kind of schedule you’ll have to keep. This will help you decide if you are ready for a dog.
Wait, there’s more
Whew! That was some list, huh? But wait, we are not done yet!
More things to consider:
- Your home will no longer be so immaculate!
- Puppyhood only lasts 8 months or so. That cute little puppy will grow up to become a larger dog. Be serious about making a commitment to your new family member
- Even if your child signs a “contract” to take care of their dog, you need to keep in mind that they can only do certain things. You, the adult, will ultimately take care of many, many things for their dog
- Your children will grow up. Your 10 year old son or daughter who desperately wants a dog might lose interest when they are teenagers. Also dogs generally are not allowed in dorm rooms which means when your kids move out the dog stays with you.
- If you or someone in your family has allergies, bringing home a dog may cause them to get worst. Check with the doctor first to address any possible allergies. Also volunteer at a local shelter a few hours a week to see how you do around different kinds of dogs. Although there are no allergy free dogs you may react to some breeds more than other.
So, Are you ready for a Dog?
Remember, we aren’t talking about picking up the latest phone and upgrading it a couple of years down the road. You are making a LIFETIME COMMITMENT to your dog and I can’t state enough that owning a dog can be expensive and time consuming.
Only you can decide if you are ready for a dog. So please, think long and hard before deciding on a dog. It’s a lot of hard work but they are worth it.