Owning a dog can be a huge responsibility. Getting the right one for you can make the difference between a life long companion and a trip to the shelter because you are not able to handle the responsibility. Being a dog owner has many benefits, but it is also very important to remember that it is a long-term commitment; dogs live an average of 10 to 15 years.
By asking yourself a few simple questions and being honest, you can decide if it’s the right time for a dog. For instance, can you afford to own a dog? If you are scraping by paycheck to paycheck with just barely enough to pay the bills and feed the family, then probably not. Although the sign may say ‘free puppy’ there is no such thing. Buyer-beware, the term free doesn’t really seem to be the case. Remember food, toys, annual shots, vet bills, medicine, a crate, obedience training, grooming and so much more. According to FlagPets.com the average cost per-month for an average size dog (40 to 50lbs) can run about $55, and if your dog is larger, you can count on at least $150 per month for the over 100 lb breeds.
The time a dog needs devoted to it varies greatly depending on its age. If time is a problem, such as the time needed to house break your new puppy, an older dog may be best suited for you. Older dogs, although somewhat set in their ways, learn faster than puppies, although no dog comes pre-trained to suit your needs. If you are interested in a puppy, keep in mind puppies need 24-hour attention. Heather Sanders, a pet trainer at PetsMart, says, “Never expect your dog to be able to hold him/herself for more than one hour for every month they are old.”
The space you have to offer a dog is another consideration when choosing a breed. Miss Sanders advises you go by this:
40 to 60lbs = House with small yard
70 to 100+lbs = House with large yard
So what breed might be best for you? Well you and your new best friend should get along and enjoy the same things. If you are active then your dog should be active, if you sit around and watch TV all day, then so should your dog. Matching your activities with the right breed can make a world of difference. As I previously mentioned, the internet has many pet personality profiles, so taking a quick test can help you narrow the field of breeds.
If you are unsure about buying the right puppy, make inquires with the local vet to see if he is willing to attend the viewing to check the puppy for visible health or personality problems. This could save money and upset in the long-term.
As quoted by the RSPCA and National Canine Defense League "Never buy a dog from a pet shop or any retail outlet . Never take one from street markets, or from any place where you cannot see the mother." Or to do a good deed, and give both yourself and your new pet a whole new life, visit your local Animal Rescue Society for advice and to discuss the options of adopting a rescue dog or puppy.
Now you have weighed all the options, considered the risks, and you still want a dog, then start shopping (preferably at an animal shelter). But please remember, this is a pet for life, not for as long as you want it.
The problem of end of post Christmas dumping has become all too common in the U.S.
Don’t forget to get your pet spayed or neutered, because it is really the best thing for them and you in the long run.
So be honest with yourself about your situation, be prepared, and may you and your pet have a long, happy life together!