Are you ready to get a dog?

The idea of owning a dog is alluring for many of us. That adorable bundle of fur with puppy-dog eyes, and the promise to be your best friend forever, is surely going to tug at anyone’s heartstrings. But, putting emotions aside, owning a dog is a massive responsibility and requires considerable thought before you make the commitment.

Ask questions
Before emotions take over, you need to dig deep into the rational part of your brain. Dogs aren’t teddy bears that can be left to one side, and the saying ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ lives on for a reason – it’s true. Owning a dog is a huge commitment, so be sure to ask yourself these questions first:

Why do you want a dog?
Be honest. If you think having a dog would make a good plaything for the kids then think again. They may like it at first, but the novelty could soon wear off, and it will probably come down to you to look after it.
A dog should be a family decision, with the whole family promising to play their part in the care and love of the family pet.

Getting a dog for security reasons isn’t a noble idea, either. If you want a secure house, then get a decent alarm system. If you like the notion of having a dog for companionship, then that’s great if you’ve got time on your hands, but if you work long hours and spend a lot of time away from home, then it’s not ideal for your pooch.

Never contemplate getting a dog as a fashion accessory or because your favourite celebrity has one of those ‘cute breeds’. A dog isn’t like an item of jewellery or a designer outfit that you can chop and change. Once you’ve got it, it yours, for ten years plus. You should be getting a dog because you love dogs, and you want to give it as lovely a life as it will give you. If you just like the idea of being seen with a pedigree pup, buy a bag.

Can you accommodate a dog?
If you love large dogs and you live in a small bedsit on the top floor of a flat, then realistically, the two aren’t going to mix well. Dogs, especially large dogs, require space, including outdoor space, and if your home isn’t suitable then it’s not going to make for harmonious living.

If you like your home spick and span, then getting an energetic puppy that likes to explore and nosey into everything is going to lead to stress and frustration – for both yourself and your dog. And what if you have children at home? Can you be certain that they will all get along? Not all dogs get along with children, particularly if yours aren’t yet old enough to understand the difference between playing with a dog, and teasing it.

Can you afford a dog?
Like any pet, dogs cost money. Not just the cost of its food (which for large dogs, can be a lot), but the price of vets bills and any other little extras that you might like to splash out on, such as luxury dog beds or pampering treats.

These costs can, and will, mount up over the years, so if your budget is already tight, then ask yourself if you can really afford the extra expense. Consider pet insurance, if you do decide to get a dog, as this can help with medical expenses, though beware that as your dog ages, the insurance premiums will increase substantially too.

Can a dog fit in with your lifestyle?
Dogs require attention. They need walking a couple of times a day, and they need lots of love and companionship.

If you work long, unsociable hours, then can you commit to taking your pooch out for regular walks? If you hate cold, wet weather and hibernate indoors in winter, your dog won’t be happy staying cooped up with you. And what about if you love your exotic foreign holidays or have the desire to travel the world? Can you afford to keep your dog in a kennel for that duration?

Is it even fair to get a dog? If you have a chronic health condition or injury, this can make it harder to care for a dog, especially large dogs. So, bear this in mind before you make the final leap into dog ownership.

This guest post was written by dog lover Amy Fowler, who has been living in a small apartment for the last few years, and for that reason, has felt it would be unfair to get a dog. Amy has written this article for House of Paws, suppliers of toys and accessories for dogs and cats, such as luxury dog beds.

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