Are You Ready for a Dog?
By Honor Tarpenning, NextDayPets.com Staff
Thinking about getting a dog? Wonderful! Dogs offer a level of affection, companionship, and love that is unparalleled. There’s absolutely nothing in life that compares to a wet nose and wagging tail meeting you at the door after a long, hard day; nothing that can touch the limitless adoration of a dog for his owner. A dog will truly change your life.
However, a dog will truly change your life. You will lose sleep, possessions will be destroyed, you will have messes to clean up and your patience will be tested over and over again. For the next 10 to 15 years your life will be affected on a daily basis by this decision. Ask yourself the following questions. Do your best to be completely honest. There are no wrong answers, just answers indicating whether or not right now is the best time to get a dog. But don’t worry—the option to get a dog is always there if you’re willing to make the necessary changes.
Why do you want a dog?
Dogs are not alarm systems, fashion accessories, or a replacement for pick up lines. They are living, breathing creatures. If you are going to get a dog, you have to want a dog. A home security system, a new purse, or a simple “come here often?” (respectively) are more than sufficient if any of those are your reason. However, if you are looking for a companion, a challenge, a walking buddy, and a big ball of fur to share your love, you’re on the right track.
What’s going on in your life?
Is your life in a state of upheaval? Have you recently gotten married, divorced, had a child, changed jobs, moved, or had any other major changes take place? If so, now is not the time for a new pet. You should already be comfortable in a particular routine before you add a dog to the mix. If you are in a precarious position in one way or another; if you are not sure where you will be living or working in the near future, wait till things settle down before you get a dog.
How much free time do you have?
Do you work non-stop? Are you involved in various activities that keep you out of the house the majority of the time? Do you travel regularly for work? Do you often leave home in the early morning and not make it back till late in the evening? If so, your lifestyle is not really conducive to having a dog. To care for a dog, you have to make the time to feed, walk, groom, play with, and provide affection to your dog every day.
What’s your financial situation?
Do you find yourself always scraping to make ends meet? Is it often a challenge for you to pay your bills on time? Consider the fact that getting a dog means committing to the financial responsibility of providing food and veterinary care on a regular basis. What if your dog gets hurt or sick? Do you have the means to pay vet bills that can be upwards of $500 if something bad happens?
Do you have the ability to be extremely patient, even when you’re frustrated?
You can’t let your temper affect your actions toward your dog. If you don’t have the patience to stay level, balanced, and under control, then housebreaking, training, and generally raising a dog are probably not your cup of tea. Can you stomach having your favorite shoes chewed up? Can you brush it off when your dog ignores your commands in front of everyone at the dog park? Can you guarantee that you would never lay your hands on your dog in anger? Then you’re in a good state of mind for dog ownership.
Do you have some kind of support system?
We would all like to think that we are impervious to the hazards of day to day life, but in the event that you were to fall ill, be hospitalized, or get in a car accident, what happens to your dog? Is there a neighbor, friend, family member, or co-worker in your life who would be willing to step in? If something happens to you, you can’t expect your dog to fend for himself.
How do you feel about exercise?
Are you ok with taking a nice, long walk at least once a day? Dogs are naturally inclined to walk. It is one way they sort their position in the pack, get exercise, expend energy, and stay healthy and happy. If the idea of a walk every day doesn’t appeal to you, you probably don’t want a dog.
Are you prepared to do your homework?
Finding the right dog isn’t about picking out the cutest critter you can find. It is best to think carefully about your lifestyle, preferences, and needs and choose a breed accordingly. Research until you find a breed that appeals to the way you want to live your life. If you don’t find a certain breed who’s needs, habits, and idiosyncrasies are suitable to you, then take it as a sign that you aren’t ready for a dog.
Remember that getting a dog is a decision that you will have to live with for the next 10 to 15 years. There’s no need to rush into it. Waiting a few months, or even a few years to get a dog is much easier than dealing with having a dog when you and your life are not in the right place. Also keep in mind that every cute little puppy grows up to be a dog.