Bringing a dog into your life can be a fulfilling and fun experience. Dogs are known for their unconditional love, unwavering loyalty and joyful presence. But there is lots to think about before getting a dog.
Before diving headfirst into dog ownership, you must be fully prepared and aware of the responsibilities of caring for a furry companion. It’s essential to understand what it takes to provide a loving and nurturing environment for a dog.
If you are considering welcoming a dog into your home, allow me to equip you with the knowledge to ensure a smooth transition and a lifelong bond with your new four-legged family member.
Puppies are like newborn babies
If you are considering adopting a newborn puppy, you best remember those nights with your newborn baby and having to get up several times a night!
Puppies are babies removed from the warmth of their mother’s comfort and bed. They need a lot of attention and care.
You will be their new mother. This means you must take on all motherly duties, including setting an alarm clock in the middle of the night to take your puppy outside to wee & poo (because they can’t hold their bladder for long), having a clock with a ticking sound under their bed to emulate their mother’s beating heart, and snuggling them with one of your shirts with your scent.
Puppies often cry out when left and need lots of love and attention, just like a newborn baby. This is one of the most important things you need to know before getting a dog, especially a puppy.
TRAINING A PUPPY TAKES TIME
With the proper training and time given, you can help your new family member adapt to your home more quickly.
It means paying anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand (all up) to fully train your puppy to sit, walk with a lead, and learn to eat safely around children. It takes time and commitment. Each day you and your children must practice and implement the skills you have learned in training with your dog.
It helps to have a positive mindset to support you on this journey!
Getting the right breed for your family
Each dog breed comes with different challenges as well as unique & exciting traits.
My Pomeranian, for example, is a crazy, fun, playful and beautiful small dog we love dearly, but she is a colossal yapper. She barks at people walking past our home, when she sees a bird, at people mowing their lawns, and, of course, whenever another dog barks.
You must take the time to research which dog breed would be a good fit for your family.
Keeping in mind:
- If you have a big backyard or a small one
- If your dog will be allowed inside
- Where they will sleep
- How much exercise they need
- If they yap
- Behavioural issues (including some breeds being more aggressive naturally)
- Any health issues they may end up having
Some dog breeds are much better around children based on temperament and size (little dogs could easily be injured by small children running around the home).
DOGS REQUIRE A LOT OF ATTENTION (AND money)
Unlike cats, dogs require a lot of attention and get bored if under-stimulated, leading to negative behaviours like constant barking, chewing things around the home and digging up garden beds.
Before getting a dog, you must consider whether you are home a lot or away from home. If you are regularly away from home for the weekend or holidays, you will need to organise someone to pet-sit your dog or put them into a kennel, costing an average of $25.00+ a day. Plus, dogs must have up-to-date kennel cough vaccinations in most kennels, which is another hundred or so dollars! The costs associated with putting our dog into a kennel have stopped us from going on holiday occasionally, as it all adds up.
They must be played with daily, taken for walks, and considered when doing anything in or away from home.
Mixing dogs and children
We got our beautiful dog Layla as a puppy eight years ago, pre-kids. She was my fur baby and got all my love and attention. When my girls were born, they became my primary focus, especially while they were babies.
For safety reasons, I chose to stop my dog from coming into the home. Layla is a small dog, and as my girls have gotten older and are confident walkers, we have brought Layla back into the home. We made this decision for both the dog’s and baby’s safety.
As Layla was an outside dog for the last few years, we had to re-train her to wee and poo outside. We always had to be careful the children didn’t have food around her because dogs might bite, growl and attack anything that messes with their food. Even soft toys get eaten and used as chew toys!
Layla loves to settle in for the night and relax. My girls love to run around playing and often don’t notice Layla on the floor (she loves to lay in the worst spots… like the walkway!) She has a nice comfy bed and huge crate to retreat to – but always chooses to stay with us. She loves to live on the edge!
I constantly have to keep her safe from the kids and navigate times when she growls at the girls and scares them. Of course, the girls forget and they are annoying her again two minutes later!
AS THE MOTHER YOU WILL BE WELL, THE MOTHER!
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that you will take most of the responsibility if you decide to get a dog. Financially, emotionally and physically.
I am the only person in the household who feeds our fish (and I didn’t want them in the first place!).
Make sure you have space, patience and time to fit another member into your family. While dogs are so loving, rewarding and fun, just like children, they are a huge responsibility that can be with you for 20 years, even longer than some children live at home.
Our pets deserve to be homed with the best intentions, a well-thought-out plan and a realistic idea of what being a pet owner is like. The last thing you want to happen is to realise that you have over-committed and cannot care for this beautiful animal.
This article has given you a good idea of what you need to know before getting a dog. You might also like: The family pet: To buy or not to buy.