“I wish it was as easy as having a checklist, like, tick, tick, tick, I’m ready to get a dog now,” says Dr Hay In Chung, vet operations manager at Petstock. “It’s a tough question.”
Many people may like the idea of having a pet, but aren’t prepared for the reality. Dr Chung says that while “every individual case is different” there are some key questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge.
Do I have time?
The first and most important question to ask yourself when considering adopting or buying a dog is if you can actually dedicate the time to its care. “If you’re adding a new friend to your family – a puppy or an adult dog – you need to train them,” Dr Chung says. “It’s like adding a new team member at your work – you need to provide a proper introduction to your home.”
Dr Chung recommends allowing around three months at the start of ownership to train your new dog in your family’s habits – including when to eat, when to exercise, how to relieve themselves and how to behave.
“Once they’ve learned everything they’ll be fine,” she says. “You just need to remind them every now and then with positive reinforcement’”
Is it a suitable environment?
When you consider whether you’re ready for a dog, it’s imperative to consider what sort of environment you’ll be introducing it to. Do you live in a house or an apartment? Do you have any outdoor space – like a courtyard, balcony or backyard? Do you have any other pets, or any children, which your dog will interact with? How much shedding can you handle?
“It might seem silly, but even grooming is something you need to consider when you’re thinking about adding a canine friend to your family,” says Dr Chung. “All these things take time and emotional energy. And they need certain environments.”
If you live in a small space and you don’t like shedding, perhaps a large, long-haired dog is not the best fit for you. This is where consultation with your vet is integral to the dog selection process. “There are so many different breeds, and they all have different needs,” Dr Chung says. “Definitely go and talk to your vet and see what breed would be best for you.”
What is my budget?
Yes, talking about money can be confronting – but pets cost money, so the budget discussion is unavoidable. “Start off by researching how much it is likely to require to care for a dog,” Dr Chung says. “Consider that a puppy may involve more costs than an older dog and a pedigree breed is more expensive than an adopted pet.”
Again, Dr Chung advises you take any questions about budget to your vet, who will give you a rundown on the basic costs when it comes dog ownership, including food, accessories, healthcare, grooming, training, microchipping and insurance.
“Insurance is becoming more and more important these days,” says Dr Chung. “Unfortunately even though they’re living with us, they don’t quite understand our world, so we can’t avoid them getting into accidents. We need to make sure we can prepare for the worst and not be too financially stressed from it.”
Insurance should be a serious consideration, and one Dr Chung advises all owners research and discuss with their vets, taking their own budgets into consideration. She also recommends ensuring your house is as accident-proof as possible, as well as microchipping your dog and registering it with your local council, to ensure your dog can be traced back to you if he/she gets lost.
Can I care for a dog long term?
Dr Chung recommends prospective dog owners think first about why they want to add a canine companion to their lives. Yes, dogs are cute and cuddly and can be loyal furry friends, but they’re also a long-term commitment on our time, energy and finances.
“Getting a dog for a Christmas only to realise that you cannot care for a dog for long-term is not going to do any good,” she says.
This article is produced with Broadsheet in partnership with Petstock.