Before Owning a Dog – Top Tips
Dogs are expensive
I am not talking about the cost of actually buying a dog. Though I do know someone who spent over a thousand dollars to get a hypoallergenic Labradoodle. What I am talking about is the general cost of owning a dog. Visits to the vet, all the supplies, food and treats, all these things make owning a dog a costly venture. Of course, it is well worth the cost, but it is important to know what you are getting into before owning a pup of your very own.
Depending on which figures you look at, the average cost of owning a dog is around $1,200 – $3,000 annually. Of course, this number is highly variable. If you have a small dog that has very few health problems, and you don’t use a daycare or walking service, your annual cost will be relatively low. If you have a large dog with lots of medical expenses, a deposit to your landlord for owning a pet, and walking service, you are looking at a much higher price. This doesn’t even take into account incidental costs like emergency care or property damage.
When I finally got a dog of my own I was very happy. I got a rottweiler from a local rescue where my mom’s friend volunteers. I already had most of the things I needed since we have two other dogs so I figured he wouldn’t be very expensive to care for. Then he was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia. The surgery to relieve some of his pain was very expensive, but I knew that owning a dog is a financial responsibility.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to own a dog, but it is important to understand the cost before owning a dog. Even though my family has certainly never been rich we always made room for dog care. If you can’t currently afford to take care of a dog, consider waiting until you have a good steady income before picking up a pooch. Of course, everyone has a different story, and there are plenty of dogs who need good homes, so don’t wait too long 🙂
Training should start early
When I got my first puppy I was in over my head. When should I start potty training? Is it too early to teach simple commands? My family always had rescue dogs up until that point and they were usually housebroken and knew a few commands. With a new dog you never know what you are getting but you can know one thing for sure: Your dog isn’t going to train itself.
The truth is, dogs are ready to learn tricks as early as 10 – 12 weeks. A good owner will make sure their dog is confident and eager to learn. Consistency is key here, as most dogs will simply forget a trick if you do not use proper repetition and positive reinforcement. Even for older dogs, the same is true. All it takes is a little patience and perseverance on the part of the owner and old dogs most definitely can learn new tricks.
It takes a village
If you have ever had a family dog you will know that it only takes one person to disregard the proper training for your dog to become disobedient. It isn’t the dog’s fault. If he wants to eat food from the dinner table and three people say no but one person says yes who do you think he is going to listen to. This can be extremely frustrating when you are training your dog to follow an essential command such as walking. I know this struggle deeply. I am the only one who takes the time to make sure whichever dog I am walking stays close to me and walks where I want them to go. Then someone else in my family will come along and let the dog pull them in whatever direction the dog desires and all my work is rendered worthless.
I know the struggle of training despite everyone else deeply. I am the only one who takes the time to make sure whichever dog I am walking stays close to me and walks where I want them to go. Then someone else in my family will come along and let the dog pull them in whatever direction the dog desires and all my work is rendered worthless.
To ensure your dog receives proper training and care it is helpful to communicate with anybody else who is in regular contact with your dog. Let them know what kind of training you are working on, what behaviors you are trying to discourage, and any other pertinent information. This ensures everyone is on the same page, so everyone is working toward the same goal.
Dogs take time
Time is a resource. Some of us have more to spend, some of us have less. Whether it is time spent training or time spent on general care such as feeding or grooming, dogs require more than just money and love. When you have to take your puppy outside in the middle of the night because she has to pee, even though you work in the morning you will understand what I mean.
Luckily, dogs adapt well to our schedules, (I am writing this at 3 in the morning and my dog is staring at me from my bed, patiently waiting for me to go to sleep.) and are more than happy to work with us. However, dogs, like us, have needs. They need our help to go outside, to exercise, to eat, to drink. All of these things take time, some more than others, but they are all essential. You don’t have to be a stay at home parent to your dog, waiting on them hand and foot, but you do have to make time for your dog’s needs.
You might actually be surprised at how little time it can take to make sure your dog is happy, well attended to, and healthy.
If you work in the morning you can easily set aside fifteen minutes to walk your dog before and after work. This is not only a great way to exercise your dog but a good way to start the day. Early morning exercise raises metabolism, helps reduce risk for heart disease, and gives you more energy throughout the day. A nice energetic walk in the morning is also a good way to make certain your dog doesn’t tear up your house out of boredom. For more info on the benefits of daily walking check out my article Dog Training Tips: Stay Fit By Running With Your Dog.
This one takes no time at all. Put some food in the bowl and watch him go. It is usually recommended you feed your dog once in the morning and once at night. This varies by breed, however, so you should consult your veterinarian.
Before owning a dog you need to know this simple tip. Dogs need access to water at all times. Simply fill up the water bowl whenever it is empty and you should be fine.
Dogs need to be let out to go to the bathroom around 6 – 8 times a day. That may seem like a lot, but it is less frequent than humans. This is something to consider if you are going to be away from home for more than three or four hours. Many people will use their lunch break to go home and let their dog out. Other options include hiring a dog walker or having a friend or neighbor come over to let your dog do his business. Remember, even though dogs are very flexible, you shouldn’t punish them if they can’t hold it in for hours on end.
In the end, everybody falls short somewhere. Personally, I don’t walk my dogs as often as I should. What matters is that you are giving a good caring home to your dog where he can feel safe, loved, and cared for. We all have places where we need improvement, so let’s get out there and do what’s best for our furry companions!