Canine companionship is a wonderful thing and, for many people, a dog is a member of the family. But raising a pet dog takes a huge amount of time, energy, money, and love. This means, while it can be great fun, not everyone is ready for the challenge. Given the responsibilities and level of commitment involved, it's clear that the decision to get a dog is one that no one should ever take lightly.
If you're thinking about getting a dog, you'll need to consider how you plan to care for, exercise, and pay for your new pet. To help you get started, we've compiled this guide to things you need to consider before committing to a canine companion. Just read on to learn whether you're ready to welcome a dog into your home.
1. Are you ready for a lifetime commitment?
The first thing you'll need to ask yourself is whether you're ready for a long-term commitment that will take up a great deal of your time. When you commit to a dog, you need to be certain that you can provide the care they'll need for the rest of their lives, and the average lifespan is usually 9-17 years, depending on the breed. So, you'll need to factor your potential pet into your long-term plans before making a decision. Bear in mind that, as your dog grows older, they may begin to experience health issues, so you need to be absolutely sure that you'll still be up to the challenge in ten or fifteen years' time.
2. Can you meet the needs of the breed you want?
If you've got a certain breed in mind, you'll need to do your research to help you find out whether you can cater to the individual needs of that kind of dog. It's not enough to simply pick the breed you find the cutest: you'll need to figure out whether you've got the time and the resources to take care of them properly. So, before you make a decision, do your homework and learn about the grooming, exercise, and diet requirements of your favourite breed, and whether you have the time (or the inclination) to carry these out.
For instance, some breeds - like border collies - will require at least a couple of hours of exercise a day to keep them healthy, happy, and stimulated, meaning this type of dog is only suitable for someone who wants to spend lots of time outdoors. Our breed library
is a great place to learn more about the different temperaments of every breed, so you can make an accurate and informed decision about which dog is right for you.
3. Can you afford it?
The average cost of keeping a dog is around £25 a week, although this can vary drastically depending on the size and breed of dog (The Kennel Club
). To ensure that you can afford to keep a dog, you'll need to research the requirements of your chosen breed, and work out how much money you're likely to need on a weekly basis. So, you'll have to factor in expenses such as food, insurance, vet's fees, and toys.
Bigger breeds will require more food, while long-haired breeds might require expensive professional grooming sessions. You'll also need to consider the initial price of your dog: pedigrees will be the most expensive, with breeders charging hundreds of pounds for sought-after breeds. Rescue dogs are much more affordable, although there is usually a rehoming fee to cover the medical expense of vaccinating and neutering the dog. If you're not sure where to start, H&T has a guide on how to create - and stick to - a budget
, so you can be sure that you can cover the cost of your pet over their lifetime.
4. How compatible are your living arrangements and lifestyle?
Not every home is suitable for keeping a dog. If you have a small home, or live somewhere without a garden or outside area, you may struggle to give a larger or more energetic breed of dog the space they need. Some breeds may be less compatible with young children, while others may not socialise well with any current family pets, like cats or guinea pigs. So, you'll have to consider whether your home environment is a suitable place: PetMD has a handy guide
to which breeds are best if you have children.
Dogs need companionship and supervision, so you should also think about how you plan to fit them into your day-to-day activities. For instance, is anyone in your household at home during the day? Or would you be able to hire a dog walker or house sitter to check in with your dog while you're at work? If you think a dog simply wouldn't be compatible with your current lifestyle, you might be better off getting a pet with less complex needs.
Getting a dog requires careful preparation and planning, so you'll have to be sure that you're up to the challenge. If you think you have the time, space, and money to take care of a dog, and you've taken these considerations into account, you're well on your way to welcoming a pet into your home.