Posted in Dog
If you are thinking about getting a pet dog, here are some things to think about first. We also have a quiz at the bottom of the page.
1. Are Dogs Allowed Where you Live?
Before you go any further, this is the first question to ask before you consider getting a new dog.
Whether you rent or own your home, here are the first considerations:
- Is anyone who lives with you allergic to dogs?
- Is everyone in the household on board with getting a dog?
Even if you will be the main caretaker of the dog, you need to make sure everyone who lives with you is ok with you getting a dog. They will be sharing a living space with a living animal that will change the environment. The dog might shed, bark, or occasionally pee on the floor. Living with a dog does require patience and understanding from everyone involved, so if someone in your house does not agree, then it’s a no go.
If you rent the place you live, you will need to consider the rules your landlord has for owning dogs.
- Is keeping a dog in the building allowed?
- Are there breed or weight restrictions on the type of dog allowed?
- Is there an additional pet fee for owning a dog?
- Will you be moving to a new apartment in the near future, and is it likely that apartment will allow dogs?
Many apartments have weight or breed restrictions on what dogs can live there, so it’s a good thing to consider even if you currently live in an apartment with no restrictions on the type of dog. Also consider that the next time you move, it’s going to be a lot more restrictive because you will need to find a place that allows dogs. If you’re not willing to make that compromise then it’s best not to get a dog.
If dogs are allowed where you live and everyone you live with is on board, continue on to the other considerations.
2. Dogs are Needy
Dogs need attention from you every day, no exceptions. As social, curious, and playful animals, they are dependent on you to give them an enriching life. Each dog has a unique personality and will require varying amounts of time based on the individual dog. They will continue to need your attention even on days that have bad weather and on days when you’re exhausted or sick and don’t feel like devoting any attention to them. Before you get a dog, think about how likely you are to walk, exercise, and play with your dog on a daily basis. Remember that there will definitely be days where you’re tired or you just don’t feel like it, but you’ll have to put in the energy and attention anyway.
Plan on devoting at least 1 hour of time per day to your dog. That includes at least a half hour of exercise, plus time for training, grooming, feeding, and cleaning up after your dog. For dogs that are more high energy, expect closer to 3 hours per day.
If you frequently work long hours, you will most likely need a dog walker or doggy daycare. These can be costly – anywhere from $250-400 per month.
If you go on vacation, you will need to find someone to take care of your dog, or a dog boarding facility. Again, these can be quite expensive, typically $30 per night.
3. Dogs are Expensive
Seriously, these animals are not cheap. They will require a money commitment, including initial costs, ongoing costs for food and supplies, and vet care. It adds up, fast. How much money exactly will depend a lot on the breed, background, personality, and health of your dog.
The cost of the dog itself will depend on where you get the dog from. By far the best cost effective deal is to get a dog from a shelter or rescue that has already done all the vetting, because vetting a new dog is very expensive. A dog from a good breeder will be very expensive, but for a good reason. Responsible and reputable breeders only breed dogs that are in excellent health and have good temperaments, so dogs from breeders are more likely to be healthy and have fewer behavioral problems. Here’s a summary of approximate costs of a dog from different sources:
- Rescue/Shelter: $200, including vetting
- Breeder: $800-$2,000, including vetting
- Pet Store: Please don’t ever buy from a pet store
- Craigslist: $100 rehoming fee + $200 in vetting
Below are some cost estimates for a new dog based on size.
Estimated Costs for a Small Dog
A small dog is one that is below 20 pounds. Think dogs like chihuahuas, yorkshire terriers, and dachshunds.
- Initial Supplies Costs (leash, toys, bowls, crate): $100
- Recurring Costs (food, toys): $25/month
Estimated Costs for a Medium Dog
A medium dog is one that is around 20-50 pounds. Think beagles and border collies.
- Initial Supplies Costs (leash, toys, bowls, crate): $150
- Recurring Costs (food, toys): $35/month
Estimated Costs for a Large Dog
A large dog is one over 50 pounds. Think golden retrievers and German shepherds.
- Initial Supplies Costs (leash, toys, bowls, crate): $200
- Recurring Costs (food, toys): $50/month
Estimated Costs for a Giant Dog
Giant breeds are typically over 100 pounds. Think Great Danes and Saint Bernards.
- Initial Supplies Costs (leash, toys, bowls, crate): $250
- Recurring Costs (food, toys): $60/month
4. Dogs Need Vet Care
Speaking of the high costs of having a dog, don’t forget the costs of vet care. It’s very important to bring your dog to the vet for a yearly checkup and if you notice anything wrong with your dog.
For your dog’s first checkup and round of shots, you can expect to spend around $200.
For your dog’s yearly checkup and shots, you can expect to spend around $100.
However, also consider the costs for an emergency. If your dog breaks a bone, that could cost $500 and upwards. If your dog accidentally ingests something and needs emergency surgery, that could cost somewhere in the range of $2,000. If you can’t afford to pay for emergency situations for your pet, it’s best not to get a pet.
Plan on putting away about $30/month to save up for emergency funds.
5. Dogs Need Training
Your new dog will not behave the way you want her to behave. There’s no way around it. Dogs will be dogs. They have no way to understand what behavior is expected of them unless they are shown through good training techniques. With proper training, you can teach your dog how you want her to behave so that you can live peacefully and happily together. However, this takes a good amount of effort on your part. You will need to research the best way to train for the behavior you desire, spend time training with patience, and you may even need to reach out to a professional dog trainer for assistance. Even with training, unwanted behavior is bound to occur from time to time because new situations arise all the time that your dog will not know how to react to. Here are some behaviors that you might see in your dog that you will need to work on training:
- Barking (for attention, at cars, to scare people away, to play, from separation anxiety etc.)
- Destroying possessions (chewing on furniture, ripping up clothes, peeing on floors, etc.)
- Pulling on a leash (pulling on walks, lunging at dogs, skateboards, cars)
- Being rude to guests (jumping on people, barking at people, growling at people, biting people)
- Being rude to other dogs (because they don’t like other dogs, they don’t know how to make friends, or they’re scared)
Every dog is different and a dog might do all or none of the above. The behavior might be easy to fix or challenging. It’s not easy. It’s frustrating. But you can learn how to work through any of these issues if you have the right expectations, a lot of patience, and a commitment to work on the behaviors with your dog.
6. Dog Personalities and Breeds
There are as many dog personalities as there are dogs. It’s important to get a dog with a personality that matches your lifestyle. If you hate exercising, you shouldn’t get a dog that needs 3 hours of exercise a day to keep happy because you will likely not be a good match for each other’s lifestyles. Many people choose a dog based on looks instead of personality and then end up disappointed when the dog doesn’t behave how they wanted them to. A good personality match between dog and owner is what will predict a success.
It’s highly recommended to get your new dog from a rescue organization that has dogs living in foster homes. Because the dog is already living in a house, the rescue will know a lot about the individual dog’s personality and will be able to match you to the type of dog you are looking for.
You can also select a dog from a reputable breeder based on dog breed. It’s important to remember though that there is a wide range of quality between dog breeders and it is of utmost importance that you choose a high quality breeder. There are dog breeders out there that will not breed to standard and will breed unhealthy dogs. A reputable breeder will be breeding dogs to the breed standard so that your dog’s personality will be more predictable, and will only be breeding healthy dogs so that your dog will be healthy. Even within a dog breed, there can be a wide variety of different types of personalities, especially if the dogs are coming from different backgrounds.
Whatever type of dog you end up selecting, the most important is that you’ve done your research to make sure the dog will be a good match for your lifestyle and what you are looking for in a dog.