We’ve all done it; made promises at the start if a new year that we don’t keep. Getting a dog is no different and it is a huge commitment. There are many benefits to pet ownership and there have been many studies that have shown how pets improve our physical and mental health. It’s no wonder that about half of UK households own pets. Statistics show that in the Deal postcode area there is an average of 0.7 dogs per house and 0.6 cats per hours so we are above average! Our pets make us laugh and cheer us up when we are not 100%, they encourage us to go outdoors and play. Pets are great friends, they never share a secret and bring us a lot of comfort. Pets can become our best friends without saying a word and often introduce you to other dog owners.
Firstly do you have the time, space and money to ensure all of its needs are met?
Most dogs will enjoy at least two walks a day and some breeds will need a lot more to use all of their energy. Having other hobbies eg running may mean that it is easily to adapt your lifestyle to accomodate a dog but do still discuss this with everyone in the household. If you are expecting family members to look after your new pet when you are at work or on holiday then make sure this is totally ok before commiting to a dog. What will you do if you both have plan? If you are thinking of getting a puppy then plan well for the beginning as they cannot be left alone for too long. It is best to have someone around for most of the day or at least have someone popping in to see your dog while you are at work. Mature dogs may get use to being left for part of the day but doing this early on may lead to separation anxiety.
Even small breeds will fill your home with beds, coats, bowls and a big personality! Make sure that your new dog has their own space so they can get away from everyone if they want. Often people use cages so that they have their own snug area that is draught free (you don’t have to lock them!). This is very useful with new dogs as they can have a safe place if they become overwhelmed by new experiences
Here is so much to consider here, especially if you have children! Firstly the most important thing is safety, dogs can find children hard to read and young children are most likely to be bitten by dogs. It is important to supervise all interactions between children and pets so that you can check that your children are following the guidance* and so you can read your dog’s body language to see if a situation may develop. It is also important to consider that the young, elderly or immunocompromised are more at risk of catching worms from pets. They can also transmit bacterial infections so hygiene is very important. If you have young, elderly or immunocompromised you should think twice about feeding your dog a raw diet as this puts people at risk of potentially fatal illnesses.
Whilst most vets do not like discussing money it is very important that you budget for a new pet. Dogs have an average lifespan of 12 years so it’s worth doing some maths at the start. Not only will you need to buy leads and beds, but also food and routine preventative health care. For large breeds just the amount of food they will eat and hence cost may shock you! It is important to think about whether you would benefit from an insurance policy for if your pet becomes ill or is injured. See here to learn more about insurance options.
Once this has all been considered the next question is whether you’d like to rehome a rescue dog or get a puppy…
Click here to see my next article about whether you should adopt a dog or buy a puppy.