Dogs and humans have a shared history of tens of thousands of years, so it is no surprise that many families feel that buying a pooch will complete their households. Not only do dogs become part of the family, but also they are fun, loyal, protective, and getting out there and walking them twice a day is a great way for everyone to stay fit and healthy.
There is evidence they are good for the soul, too – dogs can lower their owner’s blood pressure, reduce stress, and are often used in therapeutic environments. With all this going for them, why wouldn’t you want to buy a dog for your family?
Well, the simple truth is that being a responsible owner of a dog is not an easy task. There is a lot to consider, and diving in without doing your research will end with an unhappy animal in your home, which can cause untold problems. So, before you rush down to your local pet shop and place an order for family pooch, read this little guide first. I would never want to put you off buying a dog, but you need to be aware of the sheer volume of issues you might have to deal with. Let us take a closer look.
Is your family ready?
First of all, you have to think long and hard about whether your family is genuinely ready to look after a dog. If you have babies in the family, for example, then now might not be the right time – perhaps it is best to wait a while until your kids are robust enough to deal with an energetic and overenthusiastic young pup? In addition, it is not just your children you need to think about – it is you, too. Do you have the cool head required to look after, train, and manage a fast, strong, and potentially dangerous animal? Can you be assertive without being cruel? Are you neat and organized enough to provide the structure and boundaries that a dog needs to thrive?
Can you afford it?
Dog ownership comes with a significant financial cost attached. There’s the initial spend, of course, which can go into four-figure sums if you want to buy a ‘trendy’ dog – such as the French Blue Bulldog. However, that is just the start of your spending. There will be jabs to immunize your pup, and pet insurance to pay for, which can cost hundreds of pounds a year. You will not be covered for every single veterinary procedure, either, so you should put aside some cash in the event your dog needs an expensive op. You will need to buy an enormous amount of food, too, especially if you ‘go big’ and decide to buy something like a Great Dane. Then there is the related stuff, such as flea powder, worming tablets, toys for playing, leads, collars – and so the list goes on. If you want to give your doggy a good and healthy life, you will need to dip into your pockets quite considerably.
Where are you going to buy it?
Once you have decided to purchase a pooch, tracking a suitable dog down can be a lot more complicated than you might think. Going to a puppy farm is an absolute no-no, as you just cannot trust people that see dogs and puppies as a pure commodity, and you can never be sure of the temperament and personality of the animal. Buying from a private seller is equally problematic, for the same reasons – unless you can guarantee they know what they are doing. A better option is to do one of two things. First, try your local pet rescue center, who might be able to pair you with a rescue dog. However, you might have to be prepared to wait a while, as rescue dogs can often be unsuitable for families with young children. Finally, if you do go to see a breeder, make sure they are registered with an organization such as the Kennel Club. Again, though, be prepared for a wait – and good breeders will also want to interview you thoroughly to make sure you are a responsible owner.
Will you buy the right breed?
Different dog breeds have different personalities and temperaments – and it is something you need to consider before purchasing a pooch. As a rule, you cannot go wrong with a Labrador – they are great family pets and will soon become part of the household. However, something like a husky can often be a little temperamental – particularly if you have many young children around all the time. Be sure to research every dog breed before you buy one – not all breeds will be suitable, and it is one of the biggest actors for people getting rid of them when it does not work out. It is not just breeds you need to consider, either. If you buy a big, active puppy that is the most dominant in its litter, it is a sure-fire bet it is more suitable as a working dog than a family pet. Working dogs can be incredibly energetic, and need to be outdoors almost all the time to thrive. In most cases, a smaller pup from the litter would be a better option for families.
Can you deal with pests?
Another thing to bear in mind is that when you bring a dog into your home, you also bring in a whole bunch of other stuff. A dog’s dander and hair will become part of the atmosphere in your home – so be prepared to pull out random hairs in many meals, have them all over your best clothes, and see them float around the house at any given time of day. Of course, there are certain pests such as fleas, worms, ticks and plenty of other little nasties to worry about. It is not too hard for an untreated dog or puppy to catch fleas, and it does not take too long before your dog’s itchy problem to turn into a complete home infestation. As Youngs Pest Control point out, an infestation can be incredibly difficult to deal with, so you have to make sure you are taking preventative action if you want to avoid having to fumigate your home. Dogs can bring other bugs into your home, too – from heartworm larvae to blood-seeking Kissing Bugs.
Do you have the time?
Dog ownership is an incredibly time-consuming activity. Most dogs will need walks twice a day – and for the more energetic breeds, that could mean 2-3 hours out of your time, without fail, every single day. You will also need to be around at home if you want a happy pup on your hands. Canines are social animals and cannot bear to be left alone for long periods of time., if both parents work in your household and spend extended periods of the day out of the house, you have to ask yourself – are you being fair to the pooch? You will also need to consider what you will do for holidays. Most hotels and resorts are not pet-friendly, and you may have to look into boarding options for your dog.
Could you foster a dog instead?
Finally, why go through all of this only to realize that dog ownership is not for you? It is a huge commitment, and your family may not be ready for it. If you can, consider fostering a dog instead. Rescue centres are screaming out for people to help care for animals and get them out of the shelter until they find a suitable home. It will give you a massive insight into whether you and your family have what it takes to bring a pooch into your household.