Wet puppy kisses, thrilling games of fetch, and adorable Instagram photos—these are the images that come to mind when many people envision adding a dog to their lives. These perks are indeed among the best parts of having a canine companion, but make sure you don’t let them blind you to the not-so-great parts of pet ownership. Becoming a dog owner also comes with puppy messes, many hours of training, and added expenses for everything from quality pet food to preventive veterinary care.
So how do you know if you’re ready for a dog? Begin by deciding if you’re willing to take on the worst parts of the job.
As Bad as it Gets
Let’s face it—cleaning a urine-soaked carpet can make you feel more like a dog’s servant than his master. Also, be prepared for your dog to toss his cookies occasionally. Although vomit isn’t a daily part of pet ownership, you will encounter it—usually in the middle of the night when you aren’t wearing your slippers.
Next, picture your favorite pair of shoes in your dog’s mouth. Tell the truth: Did you cringe a bit just reading that sentence? Although most dogs can be trained not to chew their owners’ belongings, your pet will inevitably destroy at least one of your treasured possessions. Can you still focus on those sweet puppy kisses? If you can, then you are likely ready to move on to the other considerations.
Time and Money
You certainly don’t have to work at home to properly care for your dog, but you must be there enough to perform all the important tasks. These include feeding and walking your pet, as well as simply spending time with him. Dogs are highly social animals. Many owners utilize doggy daycare to help, but if your pet will be spending more time with the daycare attendants than you, you may want to wait to get a dog until your schedule is less busy.
You must also take the time to factor dog care costs into your budget. In addition to the cost of acquiring a pet, owning a dog also means buying numerous supplies. After your first visit to the pet supply store, you may consider buying stock in the company. If you opt for a long-haired dog and you don’t have the time or knowledge to groom him properly, he will also need regular trips to a groomer.
The Good News
If you have made it this far without being dissuaded, chances are you are ready to become a dog owner. The good news is that many rewarding experiences await you. Whether you plan to purchase a puppy or adopt an adult dog, you are about to change an animal’s life even more than your own. Take the time you need to make the best choice for you both.
You may be ready for an older dog who is fully housetrained and has passed the teething phase, but you might not be prepared to take on a young pup. Lacking time or patience does not make you a bad person; you simply need to assess your situation honestly so you can enjoy those doggy kisses with no regrets.
Tammy Gagne is a freelance writer who specializes in the health and behavior of companion animals. A two-time Dog Writers Association of America writing competition nominee, she has written more than pet care books for adults and children. She lives in New England with her husband, son, and myriad furry and feathered creatures.