Considering a Fido
Dogs are for life. Think carefully. Choose wisely. Love deeply.
A dog is going to have a huge impact on your daily life. A dog will entertain you, keep you company, enrich your life, and likely even improve your mental and physical health. In exchange, he or she is going to need a lot of your time and attention!
Far too many people don’t take the time to research and reflect before getting a dog. Many of the dogs in animal shelters were once cute puppies bought on a whim by well-intentioned people who later realized that having a dog just didn’t jive with their lifestyle. (Read more about why people end up surrendering their dogs to shelters here.)
Having to give up a pet can be a heartbreaking experience. You can save yourself and the dog that potential pain right now by honestly and carefully considering whether you have the time, money, energy, space, desire, patience, and lifestyle to make the commitment of being a full-time dog owner.
So, let’s find out if a dog is right for you, right now!
First, Fido has some questions for you, so CLICK HERE to see what Fido says.
And here are a few more questions to help you decide whether a dog will fit well into your life:
How well do you know dogs?
If you grew up in a family that had dogs, or have close friends who are dog owners, you probably have a good sense of what dogs are like and the amount of responsibility that comes with owning one. But if you haven’t had a lot of interaction with dogs in your life, you should start out by spending some time with dogs. You could look after a friend’s dog, spend some time at a dog park or volunteer to walk dogs at your local humane society or SPCA. You should also spend some time reading about and/or talking to dog owners about what life with a dog entails.
Why do you want a dog?
For companionship? Protection? To exercise with you? To participate in dog sports? To teach the kids responsibility?
Whatever your reason, it should influence what type of dog you look for.
A word of caution about getting a dog for the kids: getting a pet should be a family decision. Kids older than 7 can help care for a dog, but an adult must have the ultimate responsibility. Once the novelty of playing with a dog wears off, your kids might not be as helpful as they’d promised. You’ll probably be the one doing all the feeding, walking, poop-scooping, and doggie training. Here’s a great book on dogs and kids: “Living with Kids and Dogs … Without Losing Your Mind”, by Colleen Pelar.
Are you in it for the long haul?
Dogs are for life. Your relationship with your dog may well outlast some of your jobs, cars, and even romantic relationships. Dogs generally live for 8 to 14 years. So if you want a dog, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul.
Do you see any big life changes on the horizon?
Do you foresee any of the following changes in your life in the near future?
- Increased hours of work, school, social life, recreation, volunteering, etc.
- Beginning or ending a relationship
- Having kids
- Moving somewhere that doesn’t accept pets
- Loss of income
- Moving overseas
- Health challenges
- Major renovations
If you answered yes to any of the above points, it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. But you should be realistic now about a dog’s needs and how you’ll be able to provide long-term commitment.
Can you afford it?
Fido is going to need a safe, secure home to live in, supplies like food and toys, and regular veterinary care, for the duration of his life. These costs can really add up. Check out this overview of the annual Costs of Dog Ownership (OVMA).
Ready for the next step?
> Next up: how to pick the right kind of dog for you.
If you think you’re ready for a dog but aren’t totally sure, why not foster a dog first, before jumping into the deep end?
Most humane societies, SPCAs, and animal rescue groups need volunteers to provide temporary homes and care for animals that are not yet ready for adoption. Fostering an animal can last anywhere from a week or two to a few months.
If you don’t know where your local humane society or SPCA is, check out www.petfinder.com to find a list of animal shelters and rescue groups in your area.
Not ready for a Fido of your own?
Sometimes the best way to love a dog is not to get one.
But not being ready to own a dog doesn’t mean you can’t still have canine companionship in your life. Here are a few alternatives to dog ownership that you may not have thought of.