Things To Consider Before Getting A Dog
So you’re thinking about getting a dog? Dogs are the best, we all know this. They are cute, great companions, show unconditional love. I could go on and on. And maybe you’re like me, who didn’t have a dog of my own, really, until I got my current pup. So your parents or your siblings were really the caretakers, and you don’t fully know what to expect. And maybe, again, like me, you think it’s going to be awesome and magical and pure bonding all the time. Think again. Yes, dogs are amazing. No, getting a dog is not awesome, magical or pure bonding all the time. Let me explain.
When I decided to adopt Kayda, my current beloved pup, I was all rainbows and sunshine and ordering a bunch of cute dog toys on Amazon. I kept envisioning our life together. She would be the best dog. She would be so obedient and great on trails, and with people and babies and other dogs. She would be calm but also playful. Sure, some of these things are true now, but none of them were true when I got her. And it got me thinking, was I the only naïve soon-to-be dog mom out there? I couldn’t be, right?
I decided to share some of the things I thought a soon-to-be dog parent should consider. My biggest concern with dogs and dog parents is that we don’t get into situations that lead us to give the dogs up again. Dogs are emotional beings, and want stability and love just as much as we do. So here are a few things to consider before getting your own four-legged fluff nugget:
This is an easy one. Think about the life that you lead – are you home a lot? Are you out every night? Do you like to go on walks? Do you like to go outside? Many people think about the life they would like to have, instead of the life they currently have, when thinking about getting a doggie. And it is great to have aspirations for a type of lifestyle that you may want, but you need to consider the actuality of your current state. Are you going to be able to give the dog the attention, training and exercise it needs? Think hard and long about your day to day, and how much time you could allot for a pup.
Sacrifice and Compromise
Dogs take a lot of energy, time and money. You have to ask yourself, before getting a dog, if you’re willing to budget differently to feed the dog, train the dog, take them to the vet (expensive as hell!), and provide them the things they need to have a happy life, like bones, beds, crates, leashes, etc. Are you willing to not go out every night with friends to spend time with your dog and make sure you’re bonding with them? Are you willing to get up earlier than normal before work to take them outside? Be honest with yourself.
After answering the first two questions, you should be able to answer this easily. Do research on the type of dog you want based on how much time you have, how active you are, etc. Smaller and big dogs, like Chihuahuas and Great Danes, take much less exercise and are lazier, whereas labs, hounds and huskies, need a ton of exercise on the daily. If you’re getting a rescue dog and they’re a mutt, try to figure out their dominant breed. And if that isn’t something you can do, get ready to adapt to the energy and temperament of really any type of dog.
Always Be Training
One thing that I was very naïve to when I first got my pup, was the fact that you need to constantly be training your dog. Of course, in the beginning, I went to the puppy training classes, and did clicker training almost every day, but I got to a point where I thought I could just stop, around 6 months of us being together. Do not stop training. Dogs evolve and get comfortable, and training is good for their mental health and for the people and other dogs around you. I realized that my dog doesn’t need it every day anymore, but we try to do a training session once a week, sometimes even bringing in new commands that she hadn’t learned as a pup. This is how great dogs continue to be great and continue to understand that you are the boss.
In addition to ABT (always be training), make sure that if there are other people in your dog’s life, that they are consistent with how you’ve been training your dog. Explain to them your commands and what you expect from your dog. This is incredibly helpful if you ever leave your dog with someone else (which, don’t we all?). If your friends or family are willing to help, let them.
Open Up Storage On Your Phone
You are going to be a dog-parent. It’s time to make sure you have enough storage on your phone to be able to take tens of thousands of pictures of your dog. Prepare yourself for total obsession.
Do not ever compare having a dog to having a child. Yes, they’re your fur-baby, I get it. It is not the same as having a child. Maybe 1/100th of having a baby. Don’t be that person. Please see: The Office clip showcasing this annoyance if you're confused.
Get Ready For Unsolicited Advice
People mean well, at least, I hope they do. But many times, you’ll get comments about how you should be handling your dog. I’ve gotten things like ‘your dog won’t be able to do this trail,’ when she’s already done it many times. Or ‘what is that thing on her neck?’ referring to her training collar that keeps her attentive and safe. Just get ready for people to throw their own opinions on you about raising your dog. Know that if you’ve done your research, you’ve done your training, that you know your dog best and that these people don’t usually know what they’re talking about in relation to your pup. Only listen to advice given to you from people you trust and care about, not random people on the street/trail.
I hope this helps you even slightly in your decision to becoming a dog-parent. Having a dog is not a small responsibility and they’re such added joys to our lives. The first few months with my own was very challenging and a big learning experience for me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way now. I hope you can save yourself some of the frustrations I came across, while having a great experience with raising your pup.