Need to know for first time dog owners.
When the time comes and you are beginning to think about getting a dog for the first time, there are a few key things you should think about and research before making your final decision. The benefits of having a loveable, faithful companion are endless indeed, but these wonderful pets need a lot from us as well. Caring for a dog requires a lot of hard work, time, and training, possible lifestyle change and of course, financial responsibility. These wonderful companions rely on us for survival, much like young children do.
Please, take your time and research before adding a dog to your family.
1. Am I willing and able to commit to caring for a new dog for 10-20 years?
A dog can live long beyond 10 years. This is a very long commitment. Thinking ahead, where you see your family in 10 years+ can strongly impact on whether your family is ready for such a long term commitment.
2. What breed of dog do I choose?
This is one of the most important things to think about. All puppies are cute, little and cuddly. Different breeds have very specific requirements. Most breeds do not fit all lifestyles. Take the time to list what you are looking for in a dog and the lifestyle your family leads; then really research the breed based on their personality and needs that best match your family`s.
3. How much money do I have for costs?
This needs to be built into your budget. The amount spent on dog food can really add up, especially large breed dogs. You want to ensure that you can feed your dog a good high quality dog food right from the beginning and through his whole life. Good quality food can cost a little more per bag, but in the end you will save in vet bills and have a healthy four legged family member around for much longer.
4. Regular vet visits and medical emergencies
All dogs require a yearly checkup just like we do. They also require vaccines, flea and worm prevention products. Also, just like us, dogs can become sick or injured. From a checkup for an eye infection to a traumatic injury, all vet visits cost money. Having a cash reserve on hand for such emergencies is a plus. Also, certain breeds are pre- disposed to having many health concerns, making researching the breed very important (ex: Golden Retriever’s are predisposed to chronic ear infections and hip dysplasia. Many Boston Terriers have skin and allergy problems. Not to mention certain breeds are predisposed to behavioral issues due to high energy demands, i.e.: Border Collies, German Shepherds, Labrador Retriever’s and the list goes on.)
5. Daily Exercise
Are you willing and able to provide daily exercise for your new pet? Some breeds require minimal exercise while some require much more. Daily exercise needs to be factored in when choosing the right dog for you.
Some dogs require daily brushing and regular bathing and clipping while others only need to be brushed once or twice a week.
This is one of the most important things to think about when choosing which dog is best suited for your family. Some dogs, due to the nature of their breed, are very easy to train and require minimal ongoing training. Some others require long term intense training. They not only need to be taught how to behave within your household but how to behave in public as well. Take you time to research and find a good dog trainer in your area.
8. Work hours
A new puppy will not be able to hold themselves for long periods of time. During the puppy training phase, you need to ensure that he gets to go out more often until he gains control of his bladder.
All puppies are small and cute but they do not all stay small. This again comes down to researching the breed. You have to ensure that your living space, lifestyle and family can accommodate for the size that the dog will become. If you live in a small apartment, a boxer should probably not be your first choice.
10. Is your whole family on board?
All family members need to be involved with the pet to ensure consistency. Dogs require consistency to be a well-rounded family member, free of bad habits. Have a lengthy chat with your family and ensure everyone is included and on-board. It is very important that everyone be included in the dogs training even the children.
Our local animal shelters are full of unwanted dogs brought in by those who didn’t take the time to research the type of dog that is best suited for them and were unprepared to take on the lengthy responsibility.
Knowledge is power, so please do your research. Dogs have enriched my life in many ways and bring us calm, joy and unconditional love. So get started on the right path and you can look forward to years of happiness and a harmonious relationship with your new dog.