We all know that getting a dog is a big commitment. However often you don’t realise just how big until you’re sat crying (and I mean ugly crying) one evening while your supposed four legged ‘friend’ is running circles around you causing utter chaos in your bedroom. Or maybe that’s just me!
Perhaps you’ve grown up with dogs as a child, or maybe you’re a soon to be first time dog owner. Whatever your situation, getting a dog is a big deal! Today I thought I’d share with you some of biggest things to consider before bringing home a new dog. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of Woody as a puppy, as I adopted him when he was a year old. However, this gave me the perfect excuse to delve into my archive and reminisce on Millie’s puppy days!
Questions to Ask Before Getting A Dog
Do you have enough time?
Puppies aren’t born housetrained. They don’t know not to chew your precious furniture or pee on the side of your sofa. Accidents are bound to happen. When getting a dog, whatever age, it’s important to ensure you have enough time for them. After all, dogs are emotional animals, who love company. They form deep bonds with their caregivers and form friendships with dogs they see on a regular basis.
Don’t forget, when welcoming a dog into your home, it’s a completely new environment. They’re bound to need time to settle in to their new surroundings and routine. If buying a puppy, it’s worth considering taking time off work to welcome them home. The same goes for older dogs too. It took a couple of days for Woody to get used to his new house. In fact the first thing he did when we brought him home was pee in the conservatory! Thankfully he hasn’t had any accidents indoors since!
What will you do when you’re at work? Holidays?
Though taking time off work initially may be an option, it’s unlikely to be long term! Some dogs can be left quite happily for long periods of time. However, rescue centres, vets and other canine professionals wouldn’t recommend leaving them for longer than 4 hours. So what do you do when you’re at work?
Dog walkers and Daycares are good options, not only to keep your dog occupied but also socialising with other canine friends. If you’re going away and can’t take the dog, kennels or overnight boarding could be an option. Of course, these services come at a financial price but I’ve found them a great investment. In fact, I’ve changed my lifestyle immensely since having Woody. The biggest change was swapping an office job to become a dog walker, the ultimate dog friendly career!
Can you afford a puppy?
I want to write a whole separate post on this point. It’s all very well saying a dog is ‘expensive’ but I do feel it is sometimes said to scaremonger new and potential owners. Yes the money adds up, particularly with the initial cost of buying a puppy, vet visits and vaccinations and of course, pet insurance. The initial investment can be quite substantial, particularly if you’re on a lower income.
At first, I was worried I couldn’t afford to have a dog. I asked my parents, friends, friends parents and even Woody’s previous owners just how much owning a dog will cost me. After reading articles online about dogs being ‘expensive’ I was nearly put off out of fear. In fact, Woody’s basic expenses are fairly minimal. Of course there are extras such as his bandana collection, fancy drying coat and more expensive food but they’re just that, extras.
Your new fur baby is a financial commitment, something you will be responsible for for the rest of its life. That could be anything up to 14 years depending on your dog’s breed. It’s hard for anyone of any age to guarantee their income in five, ten or even fifteen years time. It fluctuates. The question isn’t so much can you afford a dog, more are you willing to financially commit to the responsibility?
Will you walk them everyday? Rain or Shine?
Getting a dog is a great responsibility. From now on your little fur ball is dependent on you for absolutely everything. From toilet breaks to food, walks and entertainment, those puppy dog eyes will look for you. On top of this, you’re accountable for training your pup and teaching it good manners. Can you handle this?
On some days this responsibility is euphoric, making you feel on top of the world. Other days? Not so much. A great example, which occurs more often than not thanks to the miserable British weather, is walking your dog in the rain. Picture yourself on a Sunday morning, cosied up on your bed enjoying a lie in. It’s raining outside, the perfect excuse to stay snuggled up in the warm. With a puppy? No chance!
Dogs don’t understand why the cold/wind/rain aren’t appealing to walk in. They’ll want to go out whatever the weather! If, like Woody, your dog doesn’t like going to the toilet in the garden (both a blessing and a curse!) it’s even more important they get outdoors every single day. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s hard and I wish Woody would walk himself. After his incessant whining I begrudgingly drag my heels to the front door and done my coat.
Although it’s hard to tear myself away from my duvet, it’s always worthwhile. Watching Woody sprint at top speed, head down, sniffing and exploring our local walk fills me with joy. Having Woody in my life forces me to be outdoors more often than I’m inside. I wouldn’t change this for the world. He inspires me to keep adventuring and exploring but it has taken months of hard work and huge changes to fall in love with this new lifestyle.
Does everyone you live with want a dog?
Getting a dog is hard work. It’s so important to ensure everybody in your house wants one. That includes partners, housemates, relatives and children you live with or see on a regular basis. Everybody should be in agreement about getting a dog and welcoming them into the home.
My boyfriend and I have both grown up with dogs, throughout our lives. However, I am definitely more of a dog person than he is. Sure, he knows that dogs are cute and fun but my boyfriend was apprehensive about owning one ourselves. Communication is key in making big decisions. After talking it through we realised that, though my boyfriend liked the idea of having a dog, he didn’t want the responsibility. So, we agreed I would be responsible for Woody’s care, including everything from expenses to time and a week or so later, we welcomed him home. The rest is history!
Do you live in a dog friendly house?
If you live in rented accommodation, like we do, it’s also imperative you get your landlord/landlady’s permission. Though our tenancy agreement stated no pets, I asked her via email just in case. I’m so glad I did! After consulting our other housemates to check they would be happy, my landlady agreed.
Even if you own your home, getting a dog will have an impact. From chewed up furniture to soothe teething to muddy pawprints and moulted fur all over the floor, things will change. Of course, your dog doesn’t have to be allowed in every single room of the house. Woody isn’t allowed upstairs for example. Before welcoming home your furry friend, be sure to set the house rules. Where possible it’s a good idea to make your house as dog friendly as possible. This could include laminate flooring, covers over soft furnishings and stair gates to separate areas of the house.
Ready for the commitment?
On average dogs live between 10 to 13 years, depending on their breed. Our previous spaniels, Hollie and Daisy lived well into their teens and my parents had them from puppies. As the Dog’s Trust saying goes, ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.’ It breaks my heart to see how many dogs, of all breeds are put up for adoption everyday. Dogs of all ages and breeds can be found at rescues and charity websites across the country. Many of them being rehomed due to changes in circumstances. From allergies to relationship breakdowns and changes in work schedules. It’s shocking how many dog owners aren’t fully committed to their pets!
Now I know we can’t plan for everything and we don’t know what lies around the corner. For me, the idea of rehoming Woody is unthinkable, he’s such an important member of our family. Of course, in some situations it may be the only option but the amount of adverts being uploaded to online selling sites each day is astounding. All stating the same thing. Seems fishy if you ask me!
Adopt or Shop?
Adopting a dog vs. buying a puppy is something that sparks great debate within the canine world. Of course there are benefits and drawbacks to both. I knew for a while that I wanted to adopt a dog but Millie, my parents’ spaniel, we’ve had since a puppy. At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference.
Adopted dogs don’t always come from rescue centres and they don’t all have traumatic pasts. Of course, some unfortunately do but often dogs find themselves in rescue through no fault of their own. Perhaps their owners are unwell, have passed away or had a relationship breakdown. Each dog has its own story, so it’s important to do your research.
I wouldn’t have been able to adopt a dog from a rescue centre, as they often have strict regulations when it comes to living arrangements, gardens and the like. I found Woody online, he was being rehomed privately by his previous owners. This was perfect for me, as not only did they live in the neighbouring village but I could see Woody in a home environment.
We found Millie online too when she was a puppy and arranged to visit her as a family. The photos I’ve included with this post were from our first visit to see Millie, or Tiny as she was known then. When visiting a puppy it’s important to see the parents. We were lucky in that both Millie’s mum and dad were the family’s pets but seeing the puppies with their mum is super important. Reputable and trustworthy breeders will always allow this and it helps reassure you’re not supporting puppy farms.
These are just some things to consider before welcoming a new dog into your home. Getting a dog is a big commitment but also super rewarding. Have you recently bought or adopted a dog? What did you have to consider first? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!
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