The connection that humans have to dogs is almost unreal. For many of us, they’re our children. And, we treat them as such. We write songs about dogs, tell jokes about dogs, make art about dogs, and film sob Oscar-winning movies all about our love of dogs. Our companionship with dogs started way back. In fact, researchers believe that dogs were “pets” as long as 30,000 years ago. If you’ve been asking yourself if you’re ready to adopt a dog, that fact may make you jump the gun. If someone could be a dog owner before modern inventions were created, why not now?
“Am I ready for a dog?” is a big question that only you will know the right answer to. Dog ownership depends on many factors. For one, you’ll need to have some money saved. Even if you adopt, which is a wonderful way to add a dog to your family, heavier expenses will come down the road. Dogs need check-ups just as much as kids do, especially if you want your pet to live its healthiest life.
If that lingering question of readiness is on your mind, here are some things to ask yourself to see whether or not you’re ready for dog ownership.
Am I ready for a dog in terms of living conditions?
There are so many dog breeds that are appropriate for different settings. For example, some dogs require a lot of space to run and play. If you have a fenced-in yard, that’s a great necessity for a dog. But, it’s not a requirement. If you’re willing to take your dog out for walks multiple times a day, that would also be beneficial to make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and chances to eliminate. (And, as a bonus, it’s also quite healthy for you as well!)
When it comes to dogs, it’s important to pick a breed that complements your own lifestyle as to what it is, instead of what you want it to be. If you’re more of a couch potato, a dog that doesn’t love too much activity would be a great bet. Breeds like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Pekingese, Dachshund, Yorkshire Terrier, and Maltese don’t require much based on their size. Thus, they’re happiest primarily as lap dogs.
Speaking of size, that’s also important. Big dogs don’t do well in little apartments. Just like people, they’re going to need more space.
Am I ready to adopt a dog?
Adopting a dog is, as mentioned before, wonderful. Not only are you giving a dog a second chance, but you’re freeing up space for other strays to get adopted at the shelter. But, there’s a lot that goes into adopting a dog. For one, you might not be sure about the dog’s breed. That’s OK — sometimes, clues from the shelter will be enough to tell whether or not they’d be a good match. For example, if a dog is a “terrier mix,” they’re likely going to be very energetic. They may be more into barking than other dogs. But, they’ll also come with a ton of personality. A “lab mix” on the other hand is likely very good with children. If not, the shelter will probably let you know. While breeds can tell a lot about a dog, personal experience is also important. So, if your lab mix was abused by kids at their home before being surrendered, they may be a little hesitant of yours at first.
Will my kids treat the dog with respect?
So many households end up treating their dogs a bit like additional siblings for children. They allow their kids to roughhouse with their pet, and sometimes, hostility brews. By owning a dog, you’re also pledging to take care of the dog and look out for its best interests. That means teaching your kids how to react and respond to your pet in a friendly way. Teaching children to respect animals is a great lesson overall, but it’s vital if you want to avoid conflict — or, a future rehoming situation and unnecessary heartbreak.
Do I have a plan in place when I can’t watch my dog?
Sometimes, you’ll learn what your dog prefers. If they’re friendly, having them stay at a friend’s house or inviting a dogsitter in may be a good solution. If you live in an area with close friends, having them meet your dog in advance will be a great way to have a smooth transition if you’re planning on a week-long vacation that’s not dog-friendly.
Kennels are also a good option, but they can be stressful for certain dogs. If your dog doesn’t get along well with others, it may be traumatizing. These are all things that dog owners need to think about and find solutions for before they become big issues.
Aside from vacations, you may also be going back to work in an office. Will someone be home to check up on the dog? Many older dogs may be used to spending time alone (and, holding their bladders.) But others may suffer from separation anxiety if you’re gone for hours at a time.
Am I ready for a puppy?
There’s a very important lesson to learn about puppies — and, that’s that they’re often quite difficult. Cute, yes. But in adopting a puppy, you need to dedicate yourself to training the puppy. That means you need to socialize it with other dogs, make sure it has plenty of things to chew on (that aren’t pieces of your furniture), and possibly taking it to obedience school to train. These are things that you should do yourself, to strengthen your bond. Puppies are a huge responsibility, but if you dedicate time and energy towards training early on, it’ll be very rewarding down the line. If these tasks seem exhausting, don’t worry — it doesn’t mean you’re not ready for a dog. It just means that an older dog at the shelter may be a better fit. Most of the time, they’re already house trained and know the rules.
Signs You Are Not a Dog Person
Sure puppies are cute, but are you really a dog person? It takes more than love to care for a dog, so consider these notes below before adding a furry friend to your family.
- Are you able to wake up early? Dogs usually require early morning walks and between work, kids, or morning grogginess it could be rough. This is key if you want to avoid stepping into pee puddles in the morning.
- Do you have a lot of space? Even if you have a small dog, canines need space. They also have a lot of stuff! Like bowls, toys, leashes, and more. Things can get a bit cramped.
- Or maybe you don’t have the money for a dog at the moment. According to the ASPCA, expenses for a small dog add up to about $1,471, a medium dog will cost $1,779, and a big dog costs $2,008.31 within the first year. Dogs may not be as costly as a baby, but it’s an expense worth thinking about.
- Are you allergic to dogs? This may seem like an obvious question, but it is worth asking. However, if so, you can always get a hypoallergenic dog.
- Two words: Dog hair. Depending on the breed you have, it will get on just about everything. So, are you ready for consistent cleaning?
- Is your schedule all over the place? Do you ever really know where the day will take you or when you’ll return home from work? Dogs can be left alone with the proper parameters in place, but human interaction is very important.
Having a Dog and Working Full Time — Can it work?
Contrary to popular belief, having a full-time job does not mean you can’t get a dog. However, you will have to double up on the care and think critically about the kind of dog you want. Rescues are typically used to doing their own things and being alone. Or you can look into breeds that are independent, like terriers or greyhounds. And just because you work a full day doesn’t mean you can stop by on your lunch break for a visit or have friends come over and check on them. If you’re lucky, your workplace may even allow pups in the office.