Nearly 30% of adults in the UK have a dog, with the country home to an incredible 9.9 million pet dogs. Getting a dog is guaranteed to change your life. But by asking yourself the right questions, you can make sure you pick the perfect pooch.
Questions to ask yourself before you get a dog
1. Is everyone on board with getting a dog?
When you have a dog, the last thing you will want is a battle every day over whose turn it is to feed and walk the dog. Even if your other half and your children seem really enthusiastic about getting a dog, make sure that everyone in the household understands what will be expected of them. This is particularly important when it comes to exercise, house cleaning and grooming. If you rent your home you will also need to think about what your landlord will think about your new arrival. You should check with them first before you commit to adopting your new pet.
2. How much time can you devote to a dog?
Whatever their age, breed, whether you got them from a breeder or animal shelter, all dogs need plenty of TLC. When you get a dog you will need to make sure that you put in enough time to help them settle into their new family. Even if you are adopting an older dog, you will still need to be there for them to help them get used to their new home environment. Things like a long commute to and from work, the school run or regular social commitments can make it difficult to give an active dog all the exercise and attention they need. Don’t forget, important things like routine visits to the vet, coat brushing and trips to the park all take up time too.
3. What makes your ideal canine buddy?
Whether your perfect doggy date is just pottering around in the back garden or a long run in the park, there’s a dog out there who will make the perfect canine buddy for you. That’s why it’s important to do plenty of research into different breeds before choosing one. It will give you an idea of what to expect when it comes to their likely temperament, energy and activity levels and help you find the right dog to suit your lifestyle.
4. Can you afford a dog?
When it comes to getting a dog, love can be blind. But it can also cost you. While it may not cost you anything to bring the dog home, the purchase price is just a tiny fraction of the overall cost of owning a dog. Any dog owner will tell you that the reality is that no dog is free. Remember, a dog can live up to 15 years and it’s estimated that the lifetime costs of owning a dog are between £21,000 and £33,000, depending on breed and size.
When you are pricing up the cost of a dog, you need to remember:
- Dog bowls
- Collars and leads
- Pet insurance
- Neutering or spaying
- Vet check-ups
- Puppy proofing your home and garden
- Boarding kennel when you go on holiday
5. Will you adopt or buy a dog?
When it’s time to find your new canine companion, you have two choices. You can buy a puppy or older dog from a reputable breeder, or you can adopt from a rescue shelter. As with most things, there are pros and cons to each choice.
Buying from breeder
When you get a puppy from a reputable breeder, you should get the chance to see the puppy with their mother. You should also get plenty of information from the breeder about the puppies’ and mother's health and their disposition. As you will be taking a puppy straight from their litter, you will be responsible for all their doggy training.
Adopting from an animal shelter
Many shelters do have puppies that are waiting for adoption. However, it’s unlikely that you will get the same level of information about their health, parents and background. There are many adult dogs in rescue centres in the UK desperate to be given a second chance. When you adopt an adult dog from a shelter, you come home with a grown dog and don’t get the opportunity to shape their personality. However, you do have a better idea of the dog’s nature and how they will fit into your home life. If you don’t have sufficient time to dedicate to training, then an adult dog already trained is a better choice than a puppy.
Important questions to ask before you adopt a dog
Whether you adopt or buy, get a puppy or a grown dog, canines are beautiful creatures, full of love and eager to please. Your new four-legged friend will become a valued member of the family while at the same time you are giving them another chance to live a happy and fulfilled life.