Want a dog? – Everything you need to know
So you want a dog
So the time has come and you want a dog. This can be a very exciting time, but you need to make sure you have done your homework before you dive in. You have to be absolutely sure you are ready before getting one. Failure to do so could end up with you taking on more than you can handle. And unfortunately this is how dogs become unloved and abandoned.
We have identified the steps that you need to take before bringing a dog into your life. And when getting a dog, always get one from a dog rescue centre. Check out our articles on Popular UK dog breeds, First time dog breeds, Dogs with children and Dog rescue centres.
Research you need to do
Before you do anything, you need to do some research so you know about owning a dog and checking that you, your family, your home and your lifestyle are compatible with owning a dog.
Why do you want a dog? You need to ask yourself why you want one. Is it you, your partner or children that wants to get a dog? You need to have a good reason to get a dog and a reason that is permanent and not short lived.
A dog is for life and not a purchase on a whim. When you get a dog, it is for the life of the dog and nothing less. People can have spontaneous ideas and getting one can be one of them. Never get one if it is just a random idea that you decide one week and in a few weeks you have gone off of the idea.
Do not buy a dog as a present for someone else. Dogs purchased as presents for other people are never a good idea. Even if the other person has expressed an interest in getting one, they need to be the ones driving the idea and not you. You can, by all means help them get one, but do not get one for them. They need to understand the whole process before taking the plunge.
Does your family really want a dog? You might have the great idea to get a dog, but is your family all on board with this as well? This is very important. You need everyone in the family to want it and to take part in its day to day ownership. This is a must, so that the ownership is shared amongst everyone. Owning a dog must be a pleasure and not a chore for the household.
Do you have children, a toddler or a baby? If you have children, a toddler or a baby, then this will impact which breed of dog to go for. It is extremely important that the correct breed is chosen to ensure it is compatible with everyone in the household. Check out our article on Dogs with children.
Is your home suitable for a dog to live in? Your home will have a big impact on what breed you can get or even if you can get one at all. Is your house a small, medium or large size? Do you live in a flat or apartment? If you live in a flat, apartment or some sort of housing complex, are they even allowed to stay there? Some places have strict rules on pets. Is your home a hazardous place to be? This may sound like a strange question, but there are a lot of dangers in the average home. Cleaning chemicals left out, things a dog might try to eat that will be bad for it, damaged furniture that might harm the dog and so on. Your home needs to be safe for the them to live in.
Is your lifestyle compatible with owning a dog? What is your family lifestyle like? Do you all work long hours and do not have much time to spare? Is the house empty all day long? When you get home, will you have time to spend with the dog? These are all things to consider as your dog will need a chunk of your time every day of the year.
Do you enjoy daily walking exercise routines? All dogs will need regular daily exercise. This is a must and not optional. Some dog breeds require more exercise than others. So choosing the right breed is very important. But as already said, they will need some sort of daily exercise and several times a day. If you are not really an outdoors person or do not like going for walks, then this might not be for you. Also if your dog does its business in public, then you have to pick it up using special bags and either put it in a designated bin or take it home. This is not optional.
Are you prepared for washing and grooming the dog? All breeds will need washing every so often and many breeds will need grooming to keep them healthy and presentable. You must want to do this and not shy away from it. And you might need grooming done with a professional company if you are not capable of doing it yourself.
Are you prepared when the dog might become ill? It is inevitable that one day your they will become ill. You have to deal with this and get it back to good health again. This will involve trips to the vet to diagnose the problems and then give them prescribed medication. There could be certain things you need to do that are additional to the normal things. This is all extremely important, as it is relying on you to look after it.
What type of dog do you want? Do you want a small one, a large one, an energetic one, or one that needs lots of human contact or one that is a bit more independent? These are all important things to consider when choosing the breed you want. Each breed has its own traits and needs. You need to make sure you pick a breed that is compatible with your home life and lifestyle. Check out our articles on Popular UK dog breeds and First time dog breeds.
What is your life going to be like in the not too distant future? What plans do you have in your life for the next few years to long term? This is important as getting one will impact your plans in life. If you are thinking of getting married, starting a family, moving to a different type of home or location, emigrating abroad, getting a work promotion with longer hours, taking more holidays abroad, etc. This will all effect what type to get or if to even get one at all.
Who is the dog for? Who in the household is it for? Is it for you, your partner or your child? Remember the tennis racket, guitar, exercise machine, etc that is now in the cupboard gathering dust. That was something you wanted to do and then the idea soon wore off and now you have moved onto something else. Do not let this happen.
Who will be looking after the dog? This is very important. You cannot be the only person in the household who wants one. Everyone must be on board with this and also help out and share the chores needed to look after it. This goes for feeding, washing, exercise, play time, etc. If only one person is doing it, then it can become too much for them.
Do you know people who can help out if needed? Do you have relatives, friends or neighbours who can help out when needed? You may have an unexpected trip to make or a hospital visit. To be able to rely on people to help out and look after your dog for a few days is invaluable.
Can you handle a bit of damage in the home? Lets face it, as much as you think this will not happen, it will. A dog might claw at things, chew things and even worse do its business in your home. They are not really at fault as it is just part of them growing up and accepting its training. It might be your favourite shoes getting chewed up or an ornament knocked over. But you need to accept some mishaps in the house. Also they can become destructive in your home if it is left alone for too long. Some breeds cope better with this than others.
Do you already have other pets? If you already have pets in your home, then this needs consideration. Some breeds are better with animals than others. Some breeds do not get along even with other dogs. This will determine your choice or even if you can get one at all.
What do you expect to get out of owning a dog? Why are you getting one? What do you expect to get out of owning it? You might want it for getting you fit with regular exercise, for companionship or for your children. These are all good reasons, but make sure this is definitely what you want before taking the plunge. Especially if it is for your children. They must commit to the idea of getting one.
Do you have the patience to look after and train the dog? Owning one will not always be easy. There will be challenges with exercise routines, training, feeding, grooming, washing, illnesses, etc. You have to do everything needed to look after and train it properly.
Is your car big enough? If you drive a car, then it can be handy to have a model that has a rear compartment separated from the main passenger compartment with a guard. This will keep it safely in its own area without it climbing all over the passenger compartment and being a distraction or even causing an accident. Small cars might not be suitable and transporting a dog in a special box might be too restrictive on long journeys.
Can you afford to own a dog? Owning a one will not be cheap. When everything is going well with them, you will still need to purchase food, accessories, toys, etc for it as an ongoing thing. If it becomes ill or has an accident, then you will have the expense of vet bills, which can soon rack up into many hundreds of pounds. You can take out pet insurance and this will then cost a small amount each month. This will help with vet bills. But if your dog has a history of previous problems or it is a breed that is known for health issues, then pet insurance might be something that you are unable to get.
Set house rules for everyone in the house. When you get one, you need to have some house rules in place for everyone in the household to follow. Everyone will have their own routine including the dog. It is good to plan out what people will do and how they will contribute to looking after it. This will be an ongoing thing for as long as you have the dog.
Where will you get the dog from? Where you get one from is an easy question to answer. Without a shadow of a doubt, you should get it from a dog rescue centre. There are too many in this world already with no home without breeding more. So breeders and pet shops should not even be a choice, and it is a rescue centre every time. There are lots of them around the country and they will always have a good selection available. You would pay a donation to the rescue centre of maybe £100, but it is money well spent, and they will put it back into the centre to help others. Check out our article on Dog rescue centres.
Do you still feel good about getting a dog? Phew, with everything above looked into, do you still want one? Are you running for the hills or keener than ever? Hopefully the latter, but it must only be if the above things check out okay. Remember the environment has to be good for it as well as for you. If it is not good, then it will not be happy.
Checklist of things you will need
If you have done your homework and have decided you definitely want to get a dog, then you will need to purchase some items to be ready for it. Purchase these items before it comes home, so you are not rushing around buying things at the last minute.
Leads. You will probably get a lead from the dog rescue centre, but it will probably just be a basic one to get you started. It is best to purchase one or two leads that are of a better quality and will last much longer. You can find Leads on Amazon.
Collars. Like leads above, the dog rescue centre will give you a collar, but you will probably want to get one or two better quality ones for long term use. You can find Collars on Amazon.
Bed. Your dog will need somewhere to sleep, so it is best to get a bed of some sort. You can get a custom bed, or a selection of blankets to sleep on. You can find Beds on Amazon.
Toys. It is good to get some initial toys for it to play with. Until you get the it home, you will not really know what toys it will like. So the initial toys might not go down too well. It will just be trial and error to determine what it likes the best. You can find Toys on Amazon.
Balls. When you go out for walks and visit some parks, a ball is a great way for your dog to get exercise and play at the same time. They enjoy tennis balls and even small footballs. And there are ball throwers that can throw the ball much further away to give them a good run to fetch it. You can find Balls on Amazon.
Blankets. As mentioned above with the bed, it is good to get some blankets for it to lay on when needed. You can find Blankets on Amazon.
Food and water bowls. Bowls for water and food are important from day one. Make sure you have these as you will be feeding your dog from the off. You may have to experiment with different types of bowls, but you should be okay with whatever you get. You can find Bowls on Amazon.
Food. As mentioned above, you will need to have food ready for it to eat. Like other things above, this will be trial and error and what you initially purchase may not go down too well. Everyone has their favourite food and dogs are no exception. Trial and error will soon work out what they like the best. You can find Food on Amazon.
Car guard. If you have a car with a rear compartment like an estate, then a good quality guard is a must. This will allow you to transport it around in the back of your car without it getting into the passenger compartment and causing distractions, etc while you are driving. This is also a nicer way to transport them on a long journey than being inside a transportation box. You can find car Car Guards on Amazon.
Transportation box. Even though you might have a car with a decent back space and a guard, it is still advisable to get a transportation box. This is useful for visits to the vets, etc, where taking it in on a lead is not so practical. You can find Transportation Boxes on Amazon.
You should now be ready for a dog
So hopefully these steps have shown the process before you decide to get a dog. Just because you want a one, does not mean it will be possible or the right thing to do. It is paramount that you are 100 percent sure that getting a dog is going to be a good thing to do.
And as stated above, getting a dog for yourself can cause problems, let alone giving one to someone else as a present. They may have shown an interest in getting a dog, but when push comes to shove, they can soon change their mind. Christmas time can be a bad example of this happening.
So many dogs bought on a whim and then the owners realise that they are more work than they realised and cost a more money than they want to spend to keep it. They become unloved and abandoned. So to stop this happening, be absolutely sure you have checked everything out before taking one on.