Owning a dog can offer so much to individuals and families. While these benefits are attractive, you have to look beyond all of the wonderful things that come with being a dog owner to consider whether dog ownership is right for you.
Dogs can be a lot of fun and they can be some of the best companions in the world, but they also come with big responsibilities. Before jumping into dog ownership, you should take the time to think about what it will mean for your life and what this responsibility is going to ask of you.
If you are thinking about getting a dog, asking yourself the following questions can help you assess whether or not it is the right decision for you.
Can you afford the financial commitment?
Maybe you can afford to buy a dog, but that does not mean you can afford to own a dog. Even if the cost of buying a dog is low (or even free), you have to think about all of the costs that go into the animal’s maintenance and care. Along with buying food, you are going to need to cover costs like visits to the vet, buying toys, dog crates, a bed and a leash and collar. Depending on your circumstances, you might also need to consider costs like behavior training and hiring a dog walker.
Do you have the time?
Owning a dog requires a significant time investment. Dogs are pack animals, so they need companionship. You are also going to need to dedicate time to walking your dog every day and spend time playing and exercising with your dog. If you work long hours or don’t feel that you would have the energy or time, dog ownership might not be right for you.
Are you committed?
You shouldn’t buy a dog on a whim and you should make sure you are sufficiently committed to the animal. A dog can easily live past ten years and it is going to require a lot of time, attention and love during that time. If you are not absolutely sure that you are committed for the life of the animal, then you should not own a dog. If you don’t have the commitment, it increases the chance that you will have to turn the dog over to a shelter, and from there, it may not have a good chance of finding a new home.
Are you ready to adapt your lifestyle to owning a dog?
This is especially important when the dog is young. Puppies need more time and attention. You are also going to need to take care of things like behavior training and you need to have patience with the dog as it learns to live in your home. If you work long hours, travel frequently or like to spend a lot of time out and away from the house, owning a dog might be too much for you.
Do you see any lifestyle changes in the near future?
As we mentioned above, owning a dog is a big commitment. If your life changes, is dog ownership going to fit in with those changes? Try to envision where you see your life in the next few years. Is there a chance that you may need to move? Are you planning to start a family? Do you see any career changes on the horizon? Consider any major life events that may occur and try to think about whether they would have an impact on your ability to keep or care for a dog.
What do you want from dog ownership?
So many people get dogs without thinking about how well the dog is going to be suited to their lifestyle. Maybe you want to get a big dog, but you don’t have the space. Maybe you want to get a dog with a lot of energy, but you don’t want to spend so much time walking and playing. Make a list of all the activities you plan to do with the dog. Once you have them listed, you can then look for a dog that is going to fit well with your plans. As an example, if you like to jog, some dogs make better jogging companions than others.
Is your family on board?
If you live by yourself, you don’t have to worry about how anyone else feels about getting a dog. If you have a family or a roommate, it is important to make this a group decision. If someone in your household does not want a dog, bringing one home could be a source of tension. This is especially true if that person is going to have to help with caring for the animal. As an additional point, this isn’t just about the humans you live with. If you have already own a dog or cat, you have to think about how the new animal will impact their life.
As you can see, getting a dog is a big decision and there is a lot to consider. If you made it through this list of questions and still feel comfortable, you might be ready to welcome a dog into your home. Now you just need to find a dog that will fit your needs and your lifestyle.