Every parent has this moment at some point. Perhaps you’re cooking the dinner; maybe you’re relaxing on the sofa. But one your kids comes into the room, and with a wide-eyed, hopeful look in their eyes they ask that crucial question:
“Can we get a dog?”
For some parents, this is a question that they’ve been dreading for years while for others it might fill you with as much excitement as your kids. Either way, it’s a big decision and not one that should be taken lightly. You need to figure out if a dog is something that a) you want, b) is right for your family, c) you can actually take care of. All of these factors are going to be incredibly personal and will depend on a whole host of different factors. It’s certainly not an easy decision and sometimes is can be difficult to figure out what the right choice is. With that in mind, here are some important things that you need to consider before you decide to welcome a new, furry addition to your family.
Can you afford it?
The biggest hurdle that a lot of people find when they’re thinking about adding a furry friend to their family is the cost of it. There’s no doubt about it, any pet is going to be expensive, and dogs are far from an exception to that rule. Of course, there are the obvious things like food, treats, and toys, not to mention the one-off costs of their bed, lead, etc. But you also need to think about things like vet’s bills. Animals get sick just like people and vets bills can be seriously expensive. The best option is to make sure that you have pet insurance but that’s also going to put a dent in your finances. Before you commit to getting a dog, make sure that you check your household budget and figure out if you can actually afford it or not.
Do you have space for it?
This is one of the things that a lot of people actually fail to consider until it’s too late. Look at your home and ask yourself “do you actually have the space for another addition to the house?” Between you and your family, it might not feel as though it’s that much of a squeeze, but you’d be amazed at just how much of a difference it can make bringing another family member into the house. You should also remember that dogs tend to get under your feet a lot. It’s not their fault, they often just want to spend as much time with you as possible. But it does mean that they can sometimes end up getting in the way and, if you don’t have that much room to spare in the first place, this can cause a lot of frustration. It’s also crucial that you don’t forget that you’re going to need space for the dog’s bed, their food, and all of the other things that come along with it.
Can you spare the time?
Every pet is going to require that you give up some of your time, but there are few pets that require that more than a dog. Even just walking it is something that’s going to take up a decent amount of your free time. Not only that but you need to be sure that you aren’t leaving the dog on their own for long stretches of time. Unlike many pets, dogs don’t do that well on their own, so if you’re going to spend twelve hours a day out of the house, then you might want to consider a different pet. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t work full time and also take care of your dog, you’ve just got make some allowances for them. If you don’t have the time to spare, then you might want to hire a dog walking service. That way you can be sure that they’re getting plenty of company and exercise, even while you’re at work.
If you decide you want to get a puppy, then there’s an extra hurdle that you may have to overcome. You’re going to need to take the time to train it. This isn’t something you should ever take lightly. Training a dog can be hard work and is probably going to take a pretty long time. You need to be willing to commit to putting in the effort required to help your new four-legged friend learn the skills that they need. While many people imagine dogs doing tricks when you train them, the most important things are house training and lead training. The last thing you want is to have to spend all of your time cleaning up your pet’s messes.
Are your kids responsible enough?
Kids love the idea of getting a dog, and so they should! The image that they have in their minds of their dog becoming their best friend and playmate is actually pretty accurate. The bond that your kids can develop with their pet is truly wonderful to see and can often make all of the hard work involved feel totally worth it. However, you need to make sure that your kids are aware that it’s not always going to be fun all the time. They need to be ready to help out with the difficult and boring stuff too. This means they need to be willing to help with training, cleaning up messes, going on walks. Not only that but you need to make sure that your kids are able to be safe when they’re around the dog at all times. Even the kindest, sweetest dog in the world can potentially lash out if they’re provoked. Your kids might not mean to but, if they’re not able to be responsible, they could end up annoying the dog just a little bit too much. Make sure that you talk to your kids about the best ways to interact with the dog and keep a very close eye on them whenever they’re together until you’re sure you can trust them.