The average lifespan of a dog varies considerably by breed, with small dogs typically living longer than big dogs. Whatever type of dog you get though, it’s a long-term commitment. It’s important to think not just about how a dog will fit into your life now, but how things will work in the years to come.
Having a dog is not dissimilar to having a small child – they take lots of your time, attention and energy, but you get lots of unconditional love in return. Are you prepared to make time in your day to feed, walk and play with your furry friend?
Over the course of a lifetime, dogs can cost you quite a bit. There are the initial costs, including adoption fees and essentials such as a bed and a lead, and then the ongoing costs for food, equipment and vet fees.
It could be that one of the things that most excites you about having a canine companion is the idea of long hikes. But if you’re not keen, or able, to go for a long walkies every day, you’ll need to consider a breed that doesn’t need much exercise. Do remember that every dog needs some exercise to stay healthy and happy though.
If you’ve got little people in your household there’s no doubt they’ll be very excited at the thought of having a new furry friend, but some dogs are much better around children than others. This is a matter of breed and individual temperament so, if you’re adopting a dog, it’s important you chat to the shelter staff about which dogs are most gentle and patient.
If you’ve already got a dog, cat or another type of pet, it’s important to consider how the new dog is going getting to get along with them. Perhaps your existing pet is a pensioner, in which case he or she might find an older dog a more acceptable companion than a younger more energetic one. And, just as it’s worth talking to shelter staff if you’ve got kids, it’s worth sounding them out about how your potential new family member is likely to integrate with other pets.
You don’t have to have a six-acre garden to get a dog, but you do need to make sure your home is pet-proofed. This includes making sure any toxic foods or cleaning products are out of reach and making sure that things like hanging cords are tucked safely out of the way. If you are lucky enough to have outdoor space, remember some plants are toxic if eaten.
Pet-proofing your home isn’t just about protecting your dog either – if you’ve got an expensive piece of furniture, a cover or a throw is a good idea.
Imagine friends suggest a spontaneous trip to the cinema. I’m in, you reply, before looking at the sad, little face staring up at you (the expression puppy eyes didn’t come from nowhere). Of course, even the most dedicated pet parent might have to leave their dog alone now and again, but the point is it’s always something you’ll have to factor in.
You look forward to that two weeks on a beach all year long, right? Nothing could get in the way… except your dog that is. If you’re planning to holiday in the UK, there are dog-friendly options available but, if you’re going further afield, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got someone who can look after your dog while you’re away. Which leads us neatly to …
Ask any parent and they’ll tell you need a back up team who can help out in unexpected circumstances. It’s just the same for pet parents. Do you have friends or family nearby who’d happily take your dog on for a walk if you’re laid up with flu? If the answer to that is no, you’ll need to think about dog hotels or dog sitters.
Ready to start thinking about adopting a dog? You might like to check out our article on which is the right breed of dog for you. And don’t forget it’s always a good idea to quiz shelter staff. They know the dogs they care for very well and will be able to give you lots of advice.