Is Your Family Ready for a Dog?
Do you have the time?
All of these things will require a fair amount of time from you. If you have a demanding job, travel a lot, or aren't generally home very often, you may want to reconsider this commitment before making your decision. After all, your dog deserves proper care.
Are your children old enough to handle the responsibility?
Having a pet is a great way to teach your children the importance of responsibility, but it's also important to make sure your family is mature enough for the commitment.
Are you allowed to have a pet?
Also consider whether you might be moving at some point in the future. Do you want the hassle of trying to find a place that allows dogs? Are you willing to compromise in order to find a place that meets both your needs and your dog's? Remember, it's important to think long-term, since many dogs can live for at least a decade.
Can you afford a dog?
And remember, the bigger the dog, the bigger the bills. No wonder some people compare owning a pet to having a child!
Are you patient enough?
Do you have the space?
Don't rule out any breed until you've done your research, and try to find one that will mesh well with your everyday living style. If you do end up getting an energetic dog, be prepared to take it for lots of walks, or make sure you have a fenced in area where it can run.
Where are you going to get your dog from?
As a side note, do not ever purchase a puppy from a pet shop. Although these puppies can be hard to resist, they often come from puppy mills -- mass dog-breeding operations that house dogs in terrible and unacceptable conditions. Although you might think purchasing a puppy from a pet store will save it, in actuality you are just supporting these operations and allowing them to stay in business.
What do you expect from your dog?
No matter what reasons you have for wanting a dog, just remember that not every type is suited for every type of person. If you like lounging around the house in your pajamas, you will want a low-maintenance dog that likes to do the same. If you want a dog that will play with you, travel with you, and will generally want to spend time with you, consider a type of sporting breed.
The right dog is out there for you; you just need to do your homework. The last thing you want to do is end up with a dog that you aren't happy with, or that isn't happy with you!
Does a dog fit into your future plans?
Do you have extensive travel plans in the future? Are you looking to start a family? Are you starting a new career? Although a dog can fit into any of these scenarios, it's important to know where your priorities lie. Are you really committed to having a dog, or are there other things that are more important to you at the moment? You don't want to get a dog only to have to give him up a few years later because you got an amazing job offer overseas, or because your dream apartment won't permit him.
That being said, if you really have your heart set on getting a furry companion, you'll find a way to work around any obstacles that may arise in the future.
What are some other options?
Have you ever considered volunteering at an animal shelter? The dogs at these facilities are always looking for loving people to walk, brush, and play with them. You'll get all the benefits of owning a dog, such as companionship and affection, but you won't be responsible for round-the-clock care.
How about fostering a dog? If your long-term plans aren't conducive to owning a dog, but you're still yearning for one, consider a foster program. If you meet the qualifications, you can take a dog in temporarily, until it is placed with another loving family. There are foster programs for shelter dogs, breed rescue groups, and service dogs. The plus side is you are providing a safe environment for a foster dog. But beware...oftentimes it's very hard to see your new friend go.