You may be thinking that your life is missing something and that something could be a dog. Many people all over the world enjoy the companionship of these four-legged creatures. You have probably seen pictures all over social media of your friends and their dogs.
As with any pet, there are a lot of things to ask yourself before you buy a dog. These questions below will help you determine if you are ready to be a dog owner. Owning a dog is a big responsibility and the decision should not be made lightly.
1. What Does Your Income Look Like?
How are you doing financially at the moment? Do you have extra money to spend after the bills are paid, or are you struggling to do anything extra? If you find that you have plenty of money left over at the end of the month, then a dog shouldn’t be too much of a strain on your budget.
If you are only left with a hundred dollars extra each month, you may find that a dog can make you go over your budget. Especially if you need to make a surprise vet visit or have to buy flea medication.
I wrote an in depth article on how much my Boston Terrier, Bella, cost annually. In the article I add up what we spend on Bella for medications, food, toys, treats, vets visits, and more. Additionally, I also include 50 other dog owners and how much they spend on their pets every year. A Boston Terrier can easily cost $600.00 plus per year to own. Some owners spend much more. Check out the full in depth article with graphs here, How Much Does A Boston Terrier Cost Annually.
2. Do You Have Enough Room?
Depending on what breed of dog you get, you may need to take a close look at your house and backyard. Do you have anywhere for the dog to sleep without making your living room feel cluttered, and is your yard big enough for a high energy dog to exercise in?
If you don’t have enough room to walk your dog outback, is your neighborhood a place where you can comfortably walk your dog every day? Even adding a small dog like a Boston Terrier to a crowded home can cause some unforeseen issues.
Check out my article, Are Boston’s Good Apartment Dogs. In this article explain how Emily and I lived in a 595 square foot apartment with our, Boston, Bella.
3. Can You Keep Them Inside?
Are you looking for an inside or outside dog? Some people don’t want the mess of a dog inside. These owners will build nice enclosures in their backyards for the dog to stay. Sometimes a dog may not be happy staying outside, would you be ok with your dog living inside with you if they needed it? Or are you looking for a breed that loves to spend time in the great outdoors?
What about allergies is your wife allergic to dog fur? What is the reason you don’t want to keep them inside your house?
4. What Will You Do During Bad Weather?
If you have an extreme cold front coming in or it’s going to snow, then you need to bring your dog inside. Think about what you will or can do if the weather turns bad for your pet’s health. If you don’t feel like you could handle a dog being in your house for just a few days, then they may not be the right pet for you. Many dogs every year die from being left out in the elements and this risk goes up as your dog ages.
5. Do You Travel?
If you find that you travel a lot, then having a pet may be difficult. Dogs love to spend time with their owners and need to be walked several times a day. If you have a partner are they willing to take care of your new pet?
If you aren’t able to take your dog with you on your business trip, then you will need to find a way to have them cared for while you’re gone.
6. Does Dog Poop Gross You Out?
How do you do with the thought of cleaning up poop? If the idea of having to clean up droppings makes you sick, then a dog may give you some trouble. Dog’s, especially puppies, will have accidents inside of your house whether it be puddles of pee, piles of poo, or even the food they just puked up on your bathroom floor.
Not to mention the problem of your dog eating its own poop. Yes, dogs will sometimes eat their own poop. My dog Bella will eat her own poop if we leave her home by herself for too long. We can tell because there are smears of poop on her puppy pads but no turds, disgusting.
Bella eats her own poop often enough I decided to write an article, Why Does Your Dog Eat Its Own Poop. There are several reasons for a Boston Terrier to eat its poop. These reasons include nutritional deficiencies, hunger, prebiotics, and bad behavior. For a Boston, eating its poop is relatively safe. However, it is disgusting to their pet parents. If you have a dog this article will help you find some ways to avoid this behavior.
7. Are You A Neat Freak?
It’s no secret that pets can make a clean house messy in a matter of hours. Whether it be muddy pawprints tracked in from a walk or a wagging tail that just broke your glass vase, dogs will cause a mess.
How much of a neat freak are you, and do you feel like you can handle the mess that comes with owning a dog?
8. Is Your Home Dog Proof?
Can you handle a dog chewing on your sofa? Dogs, especially puppies, have a bad tendency to explore the world with their mouths when you’re not looking. It is almost guaranteed that if you keep your dog inside, something will get ruined.
You will also need to rearrange your house so that candles, chemicals, and food are out of the reach of your dog. If you are a person who tends to leave clothes or food lying around, you will have to change your ways for the health of your new pet.
To learn more about how to dog proof your home check out my article explaining in detail exactly what you will have to do. How To Dog Proof Your Home.
9. Have You Studied The Breed?
There are many different dog breeds out there, including ones that aren’t even recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) yet. Have you researched the breed of dog you want to bring home?
Most dog breeds will have their own set of needs that you must take into account. German Shepherds, for instance, are a working-class that will need a good amount of exercise. If you’re looking for a more complacent pooch, you should be sure to take the dogs breed attributes into account.
Boston Terriers are an amazing family dog. These dogs are affectionate and love having constant human contact. In addition, they only need to be walked for 30 to 60 minutes a day to get their exercise in. Check out this article I wrote to learn more about this lovable breed, Boston Terrier Breed Profile: Know Before You Buy.
10. Does Everyone In The House Agree?
If you live with your parents or a spouse, then you all need to be in agreement before bringing a dog home. Even if you want the dog to be a surprise, you should gauge your housemate’s interest in owning a pet first. You may be surprised to find out that the reason your mom never brought home a puppy was that she is allergic to them.
Taking care of a dog will likely affect everyone in the house as the dog may want attention from everyone who is in the home, not just you.
11. Why Do You Want The Dog?
What is the reason you are getting a dog? Do you want a hunting companion, someone to keep you company, a guard dog, or are you looking for a pet for your children?
Depending on your reasoning, some dogs may not be suitable for you, while others will perfectly fit your lifestyle.
12. Have You Ever Owned a Dog Before?
If you’ve owned a dog before, it’s likely you already know what you’re getting yourself into. If you haven’t ever owned a dog, then you will need to study up before bringing your new friend home. Stop by a pet store or shelter and ask for advice about getting your first dog.
If you do not want to ask a shelter or pet store you can always turn to friends who have dogs. Be sure to ask questions related to time commitments, as well as ask them what they wish they knew before they got a dog.
13. Do You Have Kids?
If you have kids, then owning a dog can come with some other challenges. Small children will need to be taught how to interact with the dog appropriately. If you have a baby, then you will need to quickly set boundaries for your new pet so they won’t invade the infant’s space. If your kids are older, you may want to get them involved with the dog’s care to teach them some extra responsibility.
Here is my daughter Sofia learning how to feed Bella. Sofia is also teaching Bella how to sit. Sofia in this video is only 19 months old.
14. What Will You Do With Your Dog While on Vacation?
You will probably go on vacation at some point while having your pet. Many resorts don’t allow dogs to accompany you on your stay. You need to find a sitter or boarding service to take care of your dog if you’re going to be out of town for a long period of time.
The average cost to board your dog overnight is $31.67. I conducted a survey of 30 Dog Boarding companies to get the average price. To see the full article with links to the boarding companies check out my article here, Dog Boarding Prices: 30 Companies Surveyed Across The United States.
15. Are You Prepared For Puppyhood?
Puppies are cute, their messes are not. Puppyhood is rough; you have to teach them how to listen, go to the bathroom outside, and not eat your cat. Puppies will have messes in your house, and you will find yourself regularly at the vet to get puppy vaccines. Are you ready for the commitment that comes with training a dog from the ground up?
16. How Much Exercise Will My Dog Need?
If you have your heart set on a dog, then you need to find out how much exercise they need. If you prefer to stay inside, but you get a dog that needs two-hour walks, then you may find yourself unhappy when caring for your new pet. Before getting a dog, think about what type of lifestyle you currently live in.
Once again, I love, Bella, my Boston Terrier because she can get away with a 30 to 60 minute walk per day to get all the exercise she needs.
17. What Will You Do With Your Dog While You Work?
Much like going on vacation, long days at work can present a problem for single dog owners. If you live alone, you may want to look into nearby pet sitters and dog walking services to make sure that your pet gets the care they need.
18. Have You Spent Any Time With Dogs?
Have you spent an extended amount of time around dogs? If not, then you may want to spend time with some friends who own a four-legged companion or go to your local shelter. By spending some time around these dogs, you can truly gauge how much you actually want to have your own dog.
19. Have You Looked At The Cost Of A Dog?
Purchasing a dog can be expensive. When Emily and I went searching for Bella we first found a Boston Terrier at a pet store. The purchase price at the pet store was nearly $1,200! I would never recommend buying a dog from a pet store. Yes, pet stores do get a bad wrap because of puppy mills, which are bad. We ended up getting Bella from a breeder for $350.00 and Bella was a purebred.
Back to pet stores, I do not like pet stores because of the feeling I get when I’m in them. Every pet store I have been in feels like I have walked on the lot of a used car dealership. There are never any prices listed and everyone is high pressured on selling a dog. Not to mention the dogs are always very expensive compared to other great options.
You can buy an inexpensive dog from a local breeder. Or you could adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue. These options, in my opinion, are all better that buying a dog from a pet store.
20. Where Are You Getting The Dog From?
Where do you plan to get your dog from? Before you adopt a dog, you should research the shelter or breeder they are coming from. Make sure you know what shots they have or haven’t gotten and what foods they were previously eating.
If you know the breed of dog you want research rescues for that breed. There are more than 47 Boston Terrier Rescues across the U.S. and Canada. Check out a complete list of Boston Terrier Rescues here, Boston Terrier Rescues.
Also, here is a recent interview with Jennifer the founder of the MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue. She talks about the benefits of adopting from a rescue versus buying from a pet store. She talks in general terms. So even if you do not plan on buying a Boston Terrier this podcast could be worth it for you.
21. Does Your Apartment Allow Animals?
You may be surprised to find out the apartment you are living in is not animal-friendly. Even if your apartment does allow dogs, you need to check with the owner. Many apartments will have weight or breed restrictions in place.
22. What Will You Do If You Move?
It is possible that you may have to move because of your job or you have to get a new apartment. If you have to move quickly you may find there are no places that accommodate animals. In this case, do you have a back-up plan? Many owners will have their dogs stay with a friend or relative until they can move their dog in with them.
23. Are You Open To Dog Training?
How open to paying for dog training are you? If this is your first time owning a dog, you may have some trouble breaking bad habits. Being open to outside help from a professional trainer can help you and your pet have a better relationship. That being said, dog training classes can be a bit expensive.
If you don’t want to pay for training, I totally understand. However, I highly recommend Cesar Millan’s book; Cesar’s Way. This book has helped Emily and I’s relationship with Bella. Since Sofia was born Bella has been an AMAZING DOG!!! And I attribute this great behavior in Bella from applying the techniques in Cesar’s book. Check out my review of Cesar’s Book here, My Book Recommendations.
24. What Behaviors Do You Dislike In A Dog?
Can you think of anything that would make you dislike a dog? Is constant barking going to cause a problem with your neighbors? If you are looking for a dog with specific behaviors, then you may want to consider adopting an adult dog. By adopting an adult rescue, you can get a better handle on the dog’s personality and quirks.
25. Do You Have Other Animals in the House?
Do you already have a cat? If so, do you know how they would react to a dog being in their territory? Some cats may be too scared of your new dog to live a peaceful life. If you have a friend who already owns a dog, get them to drop by for a visit. This can help you gauge your current animal’s reactions to a new pet entering the home.
I hope these questions help you come to a conclusion on whether or not getting a dog is a good choice for you. Getting a dog is a personal decision that comes with a lot of responsibility. Not to mention the long term commitment of a minimum of 10 years no matter what type of dog breed you get.
Be sure to talk to friends and family before you make this decision. Everyone will have their own opinions and feelings about you getting a dog. Be sure to take whatever opinions they have about you and a dog, positively, they are only trying to help. But in the end the decision is yours.
What will you do?