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Am I ready for a dog?

lady standing with finger on chin in thinking expression

There are numerous questions that you may want to ask yourself when it comes to deciding “am I ready for a dog to enter my life?”. As well as much excitement and wonderful memories the decision should not be made lightly as pets are a financial and time commitment but so worth it!

What costs are involved in owning a dog?

The first thing to consider is the financial cost of owning a dog. Now this does not only include the initial purchase price, food, equipment, parasite prevention, training, and routine veterinary costs, it also includes the cost of unexpected veterinary bills for accidents and illnesses. One way to plan for these unknown expenses, which can easily escalate into the thousands of dollars, is by taking out Pet Insurance for your dog .This way you have a known fixed cost monthly that you pay to give you peace of mind that you can go ahead with the necessary lifesaving treatments costs should that occur!

The initial purchase price of the puppy will vary depending on the breed and whether you decide to get a purebred from a breeder vs a rescue puppy from a welfare organisation. For example, a purebred Labrador puppy in Australia will cost anywhere around $2000-$4000. Whereas a mixed breed puppy from a rescue organisation can be more like $500-$1500. Feeding the average 10kg puppy premium puppy food will cost on average $2 a day (for a kibble based diet). Parasite prevention will cost of average $15-$20 a month. These necessary expenses can all add up quickly.

Cost saving tips

  • Buy food and pet supplies in bulk and consider incentives like auto-delivery options
  • Consider purchasing a puppy from a rescue vs pure-bred
  • Consider if Pet Insurance is a worthwhile option for you
  • Learn basic grooming
  • Look after your dog’s teeth (by brushing them) to save in dental care in the future

What is the time commitment for owning a dog?

Children walking with parents and labrador dog after thinking am I ready for a dog

Next up is to make sure you have the time to commit to owning a dog. This includes exercising them daily, socialising, playing with your dog, feeding them, and taking them to any necessary appointments (veterinary, grooming, training). Other family members can help with looking after the pup’s needs and there are always the options of doggy day-care or hiring a dog walker to walk your dog if your time schedule is very full. This way your pup will still get the required exercise and mental stimulation and you won’t need to feel bad for neglecting them, it’s a win for all!

There are also different doggy day-care options with some in large sheds, some in backyards of people’s houses and other options for supervised dog park gatherings, some even offer transport of your pet to make it even easier for you! Some workspaces are now dog-friendly and offer the opportunity to bring your pooch to the office.

Am I ready for a dog in my lifestyle?

The next consideration is your lifestyle and living arrangement and whether this is suited to owning a pooch. For example, if you live in a share house you will need to ask your fellow housemates their thoughts on the matter as well as check that pets are allowed if you are renting. The space available must also be considered such as apartment vs house living as this may influence the size and breed of dog you acquire. If you are a frequent traveller, consider what your plan will be when you travel, are you able to take your furry companion with you? Do you have a family member or friend who can look after them or a reputable kennel they can stay at while you are away? 

You also want to make sure your living area is puppy and dog proofed. This includes suitable fencing that your pup cannot escape out of (either by jumping over or digging underneath) in the yard. And indoors should be safe from items that inquisitive pups might like to chew or swallow! You can investigate crate training as well and some baby gates and temporary fencing to warden off out of bounds areas! Furthermore, ensure they have plenty of safe toys and treats to keep them entertained and hopefully dispel the urge to damage things!

How much responsibility does owning a dog take?

Owning any pet comes with responsibility but some breeds will require more effort than others so again important to do your homework. This could include energy requirements, more frequent grooming needs, more food if they are a larger breed and even increased social requirements of certain breeds. The more you invest into your pup with behaviour and obedience training as well as socialisation the higher likelihood you will have a well behaved and balanced pooch who will be easier to take care of.

Obedience training is a great way of learning basic commands such as “sit” and “stay” as well as importantly “leave it” and basic recall. Additionally, if you have a dog who is well behaved on a lead and walks well, you will more likely to want to take them walking so invest the necessary time and training to teach them how to walk properly on a lead.

If you have a highly active dog you can also consider agility as this is a great way for them to burn their excess energy as well as providing much needed mental stimulation as well:)

Acquiring a dog is a long-term commitment which can expand over 10-15 years so do consider how a dog will fit into your long-term plans. There are other options if you feel you are not quite ready for the dog ownership commitment, such as volunteering at an animal shelter, considering an alternative pet or looking after a friend’s dog to gage what it may be like to have a dog of your own.

What experts are needed for owning a dog?

White bichon dog being groomed on table

Setting your dog up for success not only involves you, but a whole team including a vet you can trust, training and behaviour specialists and a groomer if your pup will require grooming. Word of mouth is a great way for finding this team so ask family and friends for personal recommendations. Your vet may also be able to give you some advice of local training schools and groomers as well and kennels or dog sitters in your area. 

Summary

Although there are so many considerations before acquiring a pooch for your life, don’t let this put you off! The joy and love one can receive from a dog is immeasurable and so worth it. But being prepared and organised will help set you and your new addition up for success!