What should I know before getting a dog?

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Answered by: Shanna, An Expert in the Become a Dog Owner Category
Bringing a sweet new friend into your home is a wonderful way to enrich your life. However, getting a dog isn't something you should hop into without considering all you’ll undertake. Before visiting a shelter or taking your pick of a litter, take into account the following aspects of life with a dog.



Cost

Having a dog is expensive. Registration, veterinary bills, food, toys, and other expenses all add up. Just like children, pets depend on you to provide all they need. According to an ASPCA report, having one small dog will cost you more than $1000.00 in the first year. Before getting a pet, make sure you have the budget to care for them. Because medical expenses are inevitable, you may want to look into pet insurance or a line of credit that caters specifically to pet health. Some other expenses may include doghouses, food and water bowls, beds, leashes, and specialty services like grooming, walking, and sitting. If you live in an apartment, you may be looking at an extra fee for pets.

Time



Pets, dogs in particular, require a major time commitment. They need stimulation and attention, both mental and physical. Daily walks, trips to the park, indoor play time, and grooming are all necessary parts of life with a pet. You can hire a dog sitter or walker from time to time. Still, your dog will need you. It will want to see you and interact with you. If you spend more time away than at home, you may hold off on getting a dog until you have more time.

Training

Cats need far less training than dogs need. Show them the litter, discourage jumping on counters, and scratching, and you’re set. But if you decide to get a puppy, prepare to engage in a considerable amount of training. Repetition and patience are what it takes. You can look forward to sleepless nights, accidents, countless potty escorts, and perhaps some chewed furniture and clothing. Puppy-hood is a temporary situation, but to come out the other side with a well-behaved and happy dog, you need persistence and commitment.

Lifestyle

Dogs come in an enormous variety of breeds, sizes, shapes, and temperaments. To make a happy life for you both, choose a dog based on your life, not your aesthetic tastes. Think about the size of your home, activities you enjoy, other family members, and even the type of environment in which you live. For example, if you enjoy hiking, an active breed of dog is best. If you live in a hot climate, stay away from cold-weather breeds such as Huskies. If you live in an apartment, consider a small dog instead of a large dog. However, remember even small pets need plenty of exercise.

Introducing a dog into your life brings joy to you and them. However, before you do so, think about all that’s involved. Understand and prepare for the commitments of time and money. Have patience, and choose your new friend according to your lifestyle and environment.

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