The prospect of welcoming a new dog into your home is, for many, an incredibly exciting one. Thoughts of cosy nights in, spent with your loyal friend or fun, long walks in a sun-kissed park with a playful puppy are enough to make many people want a new dog. But, as the old adage goes, a dog is for life not just for Christmas. That’s why it’s important to take a few moments to consider the practicalities of getting a new four-legged pet before you take the plunge.
Here DAWGS outlines five key questions to ask yourself before you sign up to look after a new dog:
It’s easy to be seduced by the puppy dog eyes when you look at photographs or to be smitten as they smother you with love the first time you meet. It’s also very easy to fall into the trap of getting a dog because ‘everyone else has one’ or your children are begging for you to welcome a new friend into your home. The reality of owning a dog is often far different to the initial feeling of anticipation.
Yes it can be incredibly rewarding but it is also very hard work. You earn your rewards from a loving, loyal dog through caring to its every need. A dog needs regular walks – hail, rain or shine – a healthy diet, a structured routine and defined rules. It is also something you need to consider every time you leave the house for work, for a day out or when booking a holiday.
Dogs are incredible companions. They will always be by your side. They are there to greet you when you come home from a hard day’s work or there to make you smile when you need a pick-me-up. But they also need your love, care and attention every single day.
Life can often get in the way. You may work long hours or have a long commute or have a packed social calendar. You may also have other dependents that take up a lot of your time but it’s important to consider how much time you will have each day to tend to your dog’s basic needs to be fed, walked and have some companionship.
The cost of owning a dog can vary dramatically depending on its size, breed and age. However, it’s really important for you to consider if you can afford to care for a dog. Dogs will typically live for 13 years and an average dog can cost around £2,000 a year over that time.
We have outlined some of the costs for caring for a dog in our DAWGS blog ‘How much does it cost to own a dog?’
It’s really tempting to get a dog when your children are young. Children love animals and if asked if they want one of their own to look after, then of course many will say yes. But children are unlikely to be the main care-givers and will not understand the costs, commitment and time involved in looking after the new pet.
You also need to consider that dogs can be very energetic and, at times, unpredictable. It can therefore make sense to wait until your children are a little bit older and able to assist with some of the basic caring duties – walks, etc. Even if you don’t have children, it may not be the right time to get a dog.
You may be someone who travels a lot for your job and will be frequently away from home overnight. Can you offer the basic care and companionship your dog needs?
Or you may be in the midst of moving home and it would be better to reconsider getting a dog when you are bringing it into a settled environment. Always think about what key events you have coming up in your life that would have an impact on a new dog before you take the plunge and agree to bring one into your home.
Looking after a dog requires loving care and attention. The dog’s basic needs of food, drink, exercise and a comfortable environment to sleep in also have to be met.
As an owner you also have to look after your dog’s welfare. Microchipping and identification tags are now mandatory and having your pet spayed or neutered is a responsible thing to do. Responsible owners will also pick up after their dogs when out in public.
If you are ready to do all these things and are comfortable with that you can meet the needs of all five of our questions then you are on the right track to becoming a caring, responsible dog owner.