Having a dog is a very rewarding experience, so it’s exciting when you think you're ready to welcome one into your home. But it’s important to remember that a dog is a huge responsibility! If you’re wondering whether you’re ready for the commitment, there’s a lot to consider before welcoming a fluffy new member into the family. Here are 5 things to think about before getting a dog.
1. Should I get a puppy, or adopt an older dog?
It goes without saying that having a dog takes up a lot of time. This is especially true with puppies, as they require extra attention, and of course training. If you have a busy lifestyle or work long hours, a puppy might not be the right choice for you. Instead, you might want to consider adopting an older doggy who is already trained. There are lots of dog rescue centres with dogs for adoption. Check in with your local Dogs Trust; they have lots of dogs looking for their forever homes!
While you’re trying to assess whether you should get a dog, or what kind of dog would fit well into your life, you might want to look into fostering a dog. This is a great way to see how you will adapt to having your own dog while helping a dog on its way to finding a forever home.
2. How much time will I need to devote to a dog?
Dogs love company and when they’re left alone for long periods of time, they'll get bored and lonely. This isn't to say that if you’re busy, work long hours, or are out a lot of the time that you shouldn’t get a dog, but it does mean you need to consider what you'll do with your dog while you’re out. If you think you’ll have to leave your dog on its own for long periods of time, is there anyone who can help? Can a friend or family member take your pooch during the day? If not, maybe consider hiring a dog nanny/dog walker.
3. Are my living circumstances suitable for a dog?
When choosing a dog, it’s important to consider your home. Do you live in a flat? A house? Do you have access to a garden? If you’re limited on space, consider smaller breeds. Bear in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog will need less exercise – small dogs can be very energetic!
4. How much does it cost to have a dog?
Aside from the initial expense of buying your pooch, having a dog is an expensive commitment. The average lifetime cost of owning a dog can range from £16,000 to £31,000, and this doesn’t include the cost of injury or illness, which can be another costly expense. There are plenty of pet insurance plans to choose from, which could save you money in the long run.
5. What should I feed my dog?
When you first get your puppy/dog, you need to be familiar with the food they have been given previously, as it’s important to introduce any changes to a doggy diet gradually. Feeding guides tend to be based on a rough estimate, but they’re always a good place to start. When it comes to pet food, there’s a huge range to choose from and if you’ve never had a dog before, the choice can be confusing! To ensure your dog is getting all the nutrients they need, choose a high-quality, complete food. Fish based food is a good choice to start with, as fish tends to be easier for dogs to digest.
Generally, you should aim to feed your dog two main meals a day, although this will be different for a puppy. As a rough guide, feed your puppy four meals a day up to four months, then reduce this to three a day until they are 6 months when you can change to two a day. Whatever meal plan you decide on, it’s most important that you create a consistent routine that you can follow through on.
If you’ve considered all the key points and think you’re ready to get a dog, it's a very exciting time! Your dog will be one of the best friends you'll ever have.