Date updated: 20 09 2018
Getting a dog means opening up your home to a very special housemate - and one who’s (hopefully) going to be with you for many years to come! So is this the right time? Just as important - are you looking at the right type of dog? Here are 8 questions to help you make up your mind…
What will you be doing in a few years time?
You’ve got the enthusiasm, you’ve got the time - and you can’t wait for the adventures to begin. Right now seems like the perfect time for bringing a dog on board.
But what about that upcoming promotion at work - and the extra hours it will involve? Or that New Year’s resolution to do more travelling? With career changes, weddings, house moves, the arrival of kids and all the rest of it, circumstances can shift quickly...
It’s not unusual for dogs to live 15 years or more. And although you never quite know what’s around the corner, it’s always worth thinking about how things might look in the future. A dog might be perfect for now; but try and think about whether that’s likely to still be the case in the years to come.
Is everyone fully on board with the idea of a dog?
The last thing you need is a constant daily battle over who’s turn it is for dog walking. So even if your other half or kids seem super keen on getting a dog, make sure they (and you) fully understand what’s going to be expected of them (this is especially important for exercise, grooming and house cleaning).
Also, what will your landlord or neighbours think about your new arrival? If it’s a flat or any type of leasehold property, make sure you check the rules on pet ownership before you jump in.
How much time can you devote to a new dog?
All dogs need TLC - and some more than others. If you’re getting a pup, you or another member of the family will need to put the time in for socialisation and habituation. Even when adopting an older dog, you’ll still need to be on hand to help get them used to their new environment. Tip: you can read more about this in our guide.
Things like the school run and a long commute can make it tough to give an active dog all the exercise they need. Daily coat brushing, routine vet visits and trips to the grooming parlour: the time needed for all of these can soon add up!
A dog left to its own devices for too long can get restless; sometimes resulting in anti-social behaviour. Lap dogs and many companion breeds can be perfect if there’s usually someone around to keep them company, while working owners might be better off with some of the less needy breeds. Find out more about this issue in our guide to separation anxiety.
How much room do you have?
Many dogs can and will adapt to life in even the most cosiest of homes.
That said, if there isn’t a garden to run around in to burn up excess energy, it becomes even more important to put in the time for exercise.
What makes your ideal buddy?
Exercising a toy bulldog can be more of a gentle waddle than a power walk: fine for many of us, but maybe a bit disappointing if you’re committed to putting a dent in your daily step count target.
Whether your ideal doggy date is a long run at the beach or just pottering around the flat, there’s a canine out there who’s into what you’re into. That’s why it’s so useful to research breed traits before choosing a dog. It gives you a heads up on what to expect for things like temperament and activity levels for finding the right dog to suit your lifestyle.
Other pets and children: will everyone get on?
For some dogs, you’re absolutely the centre of their world. They’ll follow you anywhere - but don’t take kindly to other pets in the home who may be fighting for your attention. Other dogs were bred originally to work as part of a team. As far as they’re concerned, the more the merrier when it comes to other animals in the home. So again, if there’s a dog or cat there already, it’s worth checking breed traits before introducing a new crew member.
No dog is a plaything and children should be taught from a young age about respecting a dog’s space. If there are children in the home, it’s worth focusing on dogs that are smart, playful, confident but not aggressive and with a low prey drive.
Just how houseproud are you?
A Labrador or Lab-cross can make the perfect family pet, but these guys are prolific shedders! By contrast, the likes of a West Highland Terrier and most Poodle varieties tend to leave a lot less hair on the sofa.
Many dogs will quite happily chew away at your furniture given half a chance; something that you can help overcome through positive reinforcement training. But truth is, any dog will leave its pawprint on your home in some way - so make sure you’re ready for this beforehand!
Cost: can you afford it?
So not only are those pups gorgeous, it turns out they’re also “free to a good home”. But remember, the initial purchase price is only a tiny part of the overall cost of dog ownership; in reality, no dog comes for free.
While it’s possible to do the sums on predictable things like food and dog walking fees, don’t rule out the possibility of steep, unexpected expenses; especially if your buddy needs specialist medical attention.
This is why pet insurance can be so useful; making it easier to access the right treatment when you need it, while reducing the chances of being hit with a huge vet bill.