Dogs are mans best friend but they’re also a massive responsibility. I’ve always had dogs at home and really do thing they’re a wonderful addition to the family but so many people rush in to the decision and just aren’t prepared. Here are five things I think you need to be aware of before picking up your furry bundle of fun.
Research the breed
Some dogs are known to be more prone to destructive behaviour, some need more exercise, some breeds are hypoallergenic and some have frequent health problems. Take the time to research and think about what kind of dog will fit with your lifestyle. If possible, visit an adult dog in your intended breed or talk to an owner online – there are lots of Facebook groups dedicated to various breeds. Cali is a cocker spaniel and a really typical example of the breed – she’s utterly daft and incredibly gentle.
Think about your lifestyle
Puppies need a lot of care and attention and older dogs need regular quality exercise. Does your family have a flexible routine? Can you commit to taking your dog out at least once a day? It’s also a good idea to speak to friends and family about what would happen if you were ill or on holiday. Getting a few ‘stand ins’ lined up now will save stress later. We’re really lucky that my parents are almost always available to ‘babysit’.
Consider your finances
All pets come with a cost beyond the initial purchase. You need to pay for vaccinations, microchipping, neutering, training, food and gear. It quickly adds up! Have a think about the breed and size of dog you’re buying, what kind of equipment and food it’ll need and figure out if your budget can accommodate that. Taking out pet insurance is a great idea as you just never know when your furry friend could fall ill or be involved in an accident. Vet bills can get expensive quickly so if you’re caught out in an emergency there’s also the option of a same day loan to cover the costs.
Puppy proofing is essential
Before we got Cali I thought our house was reasonably puppy friendly. After all, we had a crawling baby so I assumed there was nothing dangerous or important within reach. Boy was I wrong! We quickly learned that an inquisitive puppy can find something to chew anywhere. Make sure cords, medications, cleaning supplies, plants and shoes are WELL out of reach of your little fluff ball and always keep an eye out – especially if they go quiet.
Prepare for the future
You’ll start toilet training your puppy from day one and once they’re allowed out in the world formal classes and opportunities to socialise are really important. Ask your vet if they can reccomend a good training class nearby and enquire about availability sooner rather than later. One thing I would do differently is find a class that was on weekend mornings – we went for a local class in the evening but frequently had to skip a session if Luisa was poorly and needed us both at home.
As I said initially we love having a dog and really do think they make great family members. That said, please don’t forget it is a massive responsibility. I know lots of friends who’ve had to make the really tough decision to re-home a much loved pet as they just weren’t able to give them the life they deserved. Do you have a dog? How did they come in to your life?