The pandemic and its lockdowns have highlighted the benefits of owning a dog like never before. It may not, however, have highlighted the challenges quite so well. Pets aren’t toys, they need care for all their lifetime. With that in mind, here are three questions to ask before you decide if you’re really prepared for that commitment.
What are your life plans for the next 20 years?
That’s a big question, but you need at least a rough answer to it. In particular, you need to think about whether you’re likely to have any major lifestyle changes. House moves, traveling and, in particular, having children, can all play a role in whether or not you can have a dog right now.
If you can’t plan that far ahead, then shorten your time frame and see where that leads you. If you figure out that you can look after a dog for at least five years, then you could think about adopting an older dog. Remember, however, that you will need a plan in place as to what you will do if your circumstances change during your dog’s lifetime.
What experience do you have training dogs?
Shelters have dogs of all ages. If you get a puppy, then you will have to organize for him or her to be trained. If you get an older dog, then their training will depend on their previous life. Shelter staff will generally do their best to train adult dogs before adoption. They will not give away any dog they believe to be dangerous. They may not, however, train all dogs perfectly.
In other words, you should probably assume that you’re going to have to undertake some level of dog training. You may find this a lot easier if you get help from a reputable dog training company.
You should certainly be prepared for a certain level of house-training. In particular, expect there to be at least a few accidents in the early days. Even though your dog will probably be delighted to be adopted, it will be a big change for them.
Would another pet be a better fit?
Owning a dog, in the right situation, is hugely rewarding, but it’s also a lot of responsibility. Other pets can also offer companionship and interaction while being much lower maintenance. They may also be more affordable, both to buy and to keep.
Even if you think of yourself as a “dog person”, you might want to think about getting a cat instead. Cats are very capable of forming strong bonds with humans, but they tend to be less dependent on them. In particular, they don’t need to be exercised the way dogs do. They also don’t bark. This can be a huge bonus if you’re working from home.
Rodents and birds come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, life-spans, and care needs. Many of them make excellent companions. Most shelters will have cats up for adoption as well as dogs. It’s not unusual for them to have other types of pets as well.