Owning a dog as part of the family

Are you REALLY prepared to get a dog?

Holidays4Dogs has touched on this subject in the past, but you can never reiterate enough just what taking on a dog entails.  One of the top reasons for people taking dogs to rescue centres across the UK is because the owners didn’t realise the commitment involved when it comes to owning and caring for a dog.

It is crucially important to do plenty of research if you are considering getting a puppy, or older dog.  By taking time to consider your lifestyle and what sort of dog (if any) is going to fit into that will increase your chances of making the right decision.

Adding a dog to the family is an important decision, so being prepared and finding out as much as you can in advance, will certainly pay off when you finally take the leap into dog ownership.

Important points to think about regarding your lifestyle;

Do all the members of your family work long hours?

Generally speaking, being a dog owner when you work full time has the potential for many snags.  Not least that it would be pretty unfair on a puppy to be left in for such long hours, even if you employ a dog walker.  There are possibly some instances where this might work – for instance if you were to take on an older rescue dog and have provision for someone to walk or let the dog out a couple of times a day.  Alternatively, factoring in full time doggy day care might be the answer.  However, if you consider how much time you will actually be spending with your own dog, it might be better to perhaps think about volunteering at a local rescue centre, where you will have the opportunity to interact and walk dogs in your spare time.  When you have a dog you need to spend a significant amount of time training and exercising – without this you may well end up with an unruly bundle of fur with rapidly developing behaviour issues.

Are all members of the family in agreement about getting a dog?

Being under pressure from other members of the family, perhaps a spouse or children means that the right decision might not be met.  It is important that everyone in the family has similar motivations for getting a dog and everyone understands and accepts the commitment involved.

What will happen when you go on holiday?

If you enjoy plenty of family holidays it would be wise to consider whether your dog could be a part of this.  Do you regularly travel abroad for vacation?  If so you will need to consider the added expense of dog care.  Many people even dedicated dog owners, will sometimes lament that dogs can be a tie.  There will be times when you might want to do things on impulse that don’t involve the family dog and you may find yourself in situations where you are unable to do the things you want because you need to get back to let the dog out, or because there is nobody available to look after him.

Have you considered the costs involved?

Keeping dogs need not cost a small fortune.  However, they don’t come cheap either.  The initial outlay for a pedigree dog can run into several hundred pounds and even rescue dogs can cost between one and three hundred pounds on average.  There are vaccinations, food, equipment and pet care bills to be considered on top of that. It is well worth researching pet insurance options which will cover you for unexpected health issues or accidents.

Probably the biggest question to ask yourself when considering whether to get a dog is; can you commit to it for the next 10 – 15 years?  A dog is a long term commitment, so it is important to think about how your dog will fit into any other long terms plans.