Are You Really Ready?
Whether you choose a companion dog or not requires some soul searching and a practical, realistic attitude. Of course, you want to see the dog and have an instant emotional connection, but before you even approach an adoption facility, you have to know the time is right for you to offer a home to a pet. Taking on a dog is huge responsibility and a long-term commitment, so think about the following topics before you go looking for Fido.
Do you own your home? If you do, does it have an adequate, fenced yard for the dog’s protection? Does it have a dog door so the dog can come and go easily? You’ll have to teach the dog to use the door and to understand that he has to use the door to go outside to urinate and defecate.
If your home doesn’t have a dog door, then you have to train the dog to let you know when he has to go outside. Perhaps you may even have someone come in during the day to let the dog out. It depends on how often the dog needs to use the great outdoors.
If you’re an apartment-dweller and you’re allowed to have pets, then, of course, you have to take the dog out at least twice if not three times a day, depending on the size and needs of the dog. You’d be surprised at how much urine a little dog has, especially when he hasn’t been walked, and you find a puddle on the floor or worse. The dog can be paper-trained, but prepare yourself for the smell.
Are you away from home a lot? If so, who’s going to walk the dog? Who’s going to play with the dog? Dogs need your time and attention. If you’re going to crate the dog during the day (not recommended for every dog), how many hours will the dog be crated? Too many hours in the crate can make the dog over-active and angry at you, although some dogs feel safe and comfortable in the crate. It depends on the dog.
If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, who will take care of the dog? Will the dog spend time in a kennel? Being away from you and his home can unnerve the dog and can interfere with your bonding experience. If you travel for pleasure and take the dog with you, remember some dogs get car sick and will need meds.
If you move a lot, the dog may have a hard time adjusting to his new environment. Prepare for accidents.
Don’t forget the cost of food, treats, toys, leashes, registration and vet. When the dog is young, the costs are manageable. When the dog gets older (and some can live to 15 and beyond), the vet bills will increase. Dogs can develop many of the same illnesses that we get as we get older.
If you’re willing to deal with clouds of fur, tracked-in mud and dirt, and the occasional accident, you may be ready for a dog. If you’re willing to give hours of your day to the dog, you may be ready for a dog. If you’re willing to pat the dog until your hands fall off, you may be ready for a dog. If you’re willing to spend years with your companion, you may be ready for a dog. If you know that love makes it all worthwhile, then you’re ready for a dog.