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What is it they say? A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. There’s a reason that this message is broadcast far and wide, and it is because owners don’t fully consider the following five most important things when choosing a family dog.
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How much free time do you have?
Do you have time and plenty of it? Because that’s what it will take to own a puppy. It’s exactly like having a baby. A puppy needs plenty of reassurance during the nights and this will often bring cries with it, meaning occasional sleepless nights. Litter training indoors, to begin with, is incredibly time-consuming and once you’ve mastered that, then comes toileting outdoors which, again, takes time and effort. Playtime, by the way, is all the time! Oh, and don’t even think about nipping to the pub after work because your fur baby will be waiting at home, nervously and anxiously, which can sometimes bring some unwanted behaviors from your new pet such as chewing furniture.
Sometimes you may want to look into getting an adult dog from a rescue centre as it may not necessarily require as much time from you as the chances are they will already be toilet trained etc. However, it is so important to note that rescue dogs may require even closer attention than a puppy, as their past can be colourful, having an effect on their behaviour or actions.
Whichever age dog you opt for, it is a decision based around commitment and you must remember this before plunging into dog ownership. Think of all the memories you’re about to create together!
Do you have other pets already?
Most dogs adore company in the form of other animals but you must do your research! Will your new dog appreciate and respect the cat? Will the cat appreciate and respect a needy newcomer? Will they be together alone whilst you’re at work?
The last thing you want is at best a headache, or at worst a war on your hands in your own home. Disney movies such as Secret Life Of Pets are not a depiction of real life! I would suggest that all scenarios are thoroughly researched before even thinking about a dog, never mind what breed.
Do you have, or are you thinking of having, children?
Speaking of the breed in the above point, it’s critical that, again, you research which dogs will understand how children work. You need to think about aggression levels, the size and power of the dog compared to the size and age of your children. One breed of dog that is widely known to be terrific with children is the labrador, as they are so laid back and full of love. Try having a look at sites such as lucky labs to understand everything a labrador could bring to a family home, including whether a golden, black, silver or brown labrador would work best in your circumstances. A respectable breeder would be able to guide you better than any pet store, that’s for sure.
If you were to become unemployed, could you still afford it?
Dogs are expensive. From coat care to specialist food, to vets bills… they’re all essential to ensure you care properly for your new family member. Treats and toys are a must, regularly, and let’s not forget the odd excitable tail-wagging accident such as knocking that beautiful ornament off the table. From bulk buying supplies through to purchasing insurance specifically for income-related situations, there are lots of ways around this should the worst happen and you find yourself out of work. What is absolutely crucial to remember though, is that you can’t cut back on pet essentials like you can with your own usual needs. A dramatic change in circumstance can cause stress and anxiety for your loved pet so please ensure you have measures in place for any worst-case scenario. In addition, finding yourself in a situation meaning you’ll have more time at home, will bring a closer loving bond with your animal so cherish it if that time ever comes!
Is your home ready for a new family member?
If you live in a 14th-floor studio apartment then a dog might prove a little difficult to keep. Unless, of course, you have researched using the above advice, and found a dog that will tolerate such a small environment. It is vital to understand that having the freedom to move and play is a must for a new family dog. No intelligent loving animal such as a dog should be kept in a cage or limited to one room. It’s just unfair. Treat your new pet as a family member. A bed, an area for play (such as a garden or yard), someplace to eat and drink comfortably, these are all things to consider. What about your designer wallpaper or delicate furniture – are they ready to take on bumps, the occasional scratch or even the shedding cycles of your dog? Ask yourself whether you would be in a position, right at this moment in time, to accept a visitor come and stay with you.
If not, that suggests you may need to think about the layout or the set up of your home before you can bring a family dog into the mix. Small changes are all it takes, no one is suggesting you should move to a stately home with 2 acres of land (although that would be nice for anyone to have regardless of whether you were looking for a new pet or not!). You need to be honest with yourself and understand that sometimes things may be damaged and sometimes things may be out of place. Is this something that you can live with?
It is this point here that tends to really open the eyes of those who thought a dog was a good idea until they actually got one. It’s not a bad thing to have pride in your home, and this can still absolutely be the case with a dog, just be certain that you are ready for a new family member who may not do things the way you would have thought!
If, after all of the five things to consider when choosing a family dog above, have been thought about and you are ready to take the plunge – congratulations!
Having a family dog brings love, companionship, protection, and memories for life. You are sure to be a fantastic dog owner and that lucky animal will have the best life that you can hope to give anyone. Good luck and enjoy