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  • Writer's pictureAnne-Marie Cheung

Should I get a dog?

Before considering welcoming a furry companion into your home you need to ask yourself these questions;

Do you have the finances to look after a dog?

Have you done your research?

Do you have time each day to care for your dog?

If you have answered no to any of these questions don't worry I will take you through them and tell you why they are so important.

Do you have the finances to look after a dog?

Keeping a dog can be expensive and the bigger the dog the more it will cost. When considering breeds a full-breed pup will be more expensive than a mutt to buy and it will bump up the insurance. Rescuing a dog can be very rewarding but a lot of rescues will be picky if you already have a dog, kids or a cat. It's not to say you won't be able to get a dog but your choices may be limited. I would recommend getting a rescue because they are full of personality and deserve a second home. Just be wary of dogs known to be aggressive like Huskies, German shepherds, Pitbulls, staffies etc because they may need a lot of training. Most rescue places won't charge you much with most accepting donations. If you decide on a full bred, you can pay upwards of £1000. A good example is the breed of Samoyed. A puppy can cost you between £1000-£5000 but a rescue Sammy can cost you as little as £250.

Here is a breakdown of what my border collie (medium size dog) costs me. I brought her from a family who couldn't handle her.

  • She cost £150

  • Her food from Tails costs £52.97 a month.

  • Healthy Pet Club (vet treatments and flea/worm meds) £29.98 a month.

  • Pet insurance through Animal friends, £20.45.

That's £103.40 a month and that doesn't include treats and toys. You also need to consider vet bills because insurance doesn't cover everything. My dog had to have her dew claw removed under anaesthetic. The bill came to £300, the insurance covered it but I still had to pay £130 towards it. Sometimes the insurance doesn't cover her treatments, like when she had her tooth removed, this cost me over £250.

Have you done your research?

Before considering buying a dog research the breed you are interested in. Some dogs are more high maintenance than others, like ones with long coats may need grooming which is an extra cost. You also need to consider how active you are, a border collie needs more exercise than a dachshund. All dogs need to be exercised which can vary from 20 minutes twice a day to 2 hours a day depending on what breed you get. You will have to give your dog daily walks, so if you're not a walker a dog is not for you. Some dogs are more challenging than others, huskies need a lot of training and need to know you're alpha or they will act like the boss. The best way to research is to look on the kennel club site which gives you a breakdown of the breed's exercise needs, grooming needs, size of home and life span. You can also find blogs on certain breeds which will give you an insight into a dog's life.

Do you have time each day to care for your dog?

A full-time job working 9-5 might not be the best environment for your dog. It's not fair to leave a dog for over 8 hours daily. Leaving a dog for this amount of time can lead to unwanted destructive behaviour, like damaging objects, furniture and soiling themselves. It is not fair on the dog if you do not have the time to give them the attention they need.

If you still want a dog you will have to consider someone walking them midday to break up their day. If you can get a neighbour to do it fantastic otherwise you will have to pay a dog walker, they range from £10-20 an hour. You also have to consider dog training classes, do you have the time to put into this? A dog needs to know basic commands like sit, stay, wait and good recall. Your dog may also develop behaviour problems which are common in certain breeds. When you get a puppy it is vital they are socialised otherwise they may become aggressive. If your dog does develop aggression problems you will need to correct them otherwise they may have to be walked on the lead and even muzzled. Again this isn't fair on the dog and doesn't provide a good quality of life. I would recommend watching Cesar Millan because he can train any type of dog with any behaviour problems. This will give you an insight into different breeds and the challenges you may face.

If after all this you still want to adopt a four-legged companion into your home please don't rush into making the decision. Research, work out your finances, and really ask yourself do I have the time, energy, patience and commitment to care for a dog and give it a good quality of life?

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