Dogs are known as “man’s best friend” for a reason–these loving, intelligent, and adorable animals have the potential to brighten up your life and be wonderful companions. But not everyone is well-suited to be a dog owner. In fact, when you really think about it, you might decide that your current living situation, financial record, or relationship status might make adopting a dog a bad decision for you at this point in time. It’s much better to come to this conclusion now rather than waiting until after the ownership papers are signed. Here are several questions you should ask yourself to make sure that you are ready to get a dog.
1. Why do you want a dog?
For many people, it’s hard to put into words exactly why they feel the need to adopt a dog. Maybe you’ve always had a furry companion as part of your life and feel lonely without one, or perhaps you’ve always wanted a dog and finally feel like you can take on the responsibility. Just as there are great reasons for wanting a dog, however, there are also some that you shouldn’t give in to. Wanting a dog for protection is almost never a good idea, and neither is a desire to get into breeding unless you actually know what you’re doing. If you want a dog to please your kids, you need to realize that the pup is actually going to be your responsibility, so you need to make sure you are on the same page as them.
2. Do you have enough time for a dog?
Taking care of a dog is a major time commitment–and often one that first-time owners don’t take into consideration. You simply can’t spend all your time away from home and be a good dog owner. These animals need companionship in order to be happy, and they also need someone who has the time to take them for walks, clean up after them, and give them constant physical and mental stimulation. If you can’t commit to making your dog a major priority in your life, then now isn’t the time for you to get one.
3. Is your living situation suitable for dog ownership?
Not all houses or apartments are dog-friendly. If you rent your home, you need to check with your landlord and make sure you are actually allowed to have pets. Even if you own your house, you still need to be honest about whether the neighborhood and layout of your home is suitable for a dog. Even if you think your home will be dog-friendly, you still need to pick a breed that will be able to live there comfortably. A French bulldog might be fine in a small apartment, for instance, but a golden retriever won’t be.
4. Can you afford to own a dog?
It’s expensive to be a responsible dog owner. Not only do you have to keep up with food, grooming, and routine vet checkups, but you need to have money saved in the bank for emergency medical expenses that might arise. Unless you have a steady job and enough disposable income to pay for your pup at the best of times and the worst of times, you shouldn’t adopt just yet.
5. Are you prepared for the positives and negatives of owning a dog?
Owning a dog may be a positive experience most of the time, but it’s not all fun and games. For every fun day hiking with Fido, you have to be prepared for that day when you come home to find he’s eaten your best pair of shoes. As dogs age, many also start to develop chronic medical conditions that will be hard to deal with. You need to accept these sorts of realities when deciding dog ownership is for you.
6. Have you decided on the right breed for you?
You can’t choose a dog based on what breeds you think are cute or what type of companion you had as a kid. A lot of thought and consideration needs to go into choosing the right dog breed for you. Consult resources like the American Kennel Club or ASPCA to find out about the pros and cons of the breeds you are considering. Certain types of people will be better suited to own certain types of dogs, and doing your research will increase the chances of you and your future pup both having a positive experience.