It's a question that crops up in many families at some stage. But it's a huge decision and needs careful thought. Don't be blackmailed or railroaded into a decision by persistent children who promise they'll walk the dog every day (FYI....they won't). Here are 10 questions to help you decide if a dog's right for you & your family.
Do You Have Time?
It takes a lot of time to look after a dog well - exercise, training, playing. Do you honestly have enough time to devote to a dog or is your life already hectic? If you don't... the answer's "No".
Are You Around?
Dogs are sociable animals that need interaction to be happy. If you work full time or are often away from home or travel a lot then maybe a dog isn't right for you. If you're not home a lot... the answer's "No".
Can You Afford It?
Dogs are expensive - training, food, vet bills, insurance, grooming, dog walkers, day care, kennels, toys. The average annual cost of owning a dog in the UK is nearly £1,200. Do you have that kind of spare cash? If you don't... the answer's "No".
Is Your Environment Suitable?
Do you have access to suitable outside space? A garden? Or a park? Or countryside? Are you in long term, secure accommodation that allows you to have a dog? If you rent your property would you be able to easily find new accommodation that allows dogs if you needed to. Boring but practical. If your environment isn't suitable... the answer's "No".
Are You Active or a Couch Potato?
Dogs need exercise. 2 or 3 times a day. Every day*. In all weathers. Whether you feel like it or not. Are you up for that? If you're not... the answer's "No".
*there are exceptions to this but for the purposes of deciding whether a dog's for you assume you need to be out every day.
Are You A Neat Freak?
Dogs make a mess. They just do. Muddy paws. Hair on the furniture. Toys lying about the house. They sometimes smell. They might even (gasp!) chew things. If these things bother you... the answer's "No".
Who REALLY Wants To Get A Dog?
Is it the kids? Or you? If it's the kids driving the decision then be warned...no matter how much they promise it will be you (Mum, I'm talking to you....) who will end up doing most of the work. Are you on board with that? If you're not...the answer's "No".
Are You Happy To Be Tied Down?
Dogs are a tie. You need to plan activities, nights out, day trips etc around them. Used to going on family trips for dinner & a film & a bit of shopping with no rush to get back? If you have a dog you need to watch the clock. No spontaneous holidays or last minute breaks if you can't take your dog with you. Good kennels & boarders often book out months ahead...you need to plan if you have a dog. If you're not happy being tied down... the answer's "No".
Are You OK With Commitment?
All being well, if you get a puppy, you'll have a dog in your life for up to 15 years. Are you ready for that kind of long term commitment? What stage in your life are you at just now? What changes are the next 15 years likely to bring? And will a dog fit in with those? If you're not prepared to commit to a dog for at least 15 years...the answer's "No".
Are You Being Realistic?
It's natural when we think of getting a dog to picture the perfect family dog. Playful, fun, friendly with people and dogs, great with kids. But you might not get that dog. You might get a dog that's nervous or intolerant of other dogs or wary of people. While many of these issues can be addressed with good training all dogs are individuals and you might not get the dog you wanted. How will you feel then? If you're not prepared to work with and do your best for the individual you get... the answer's "No".
Honestly answering these questions will give you a really good idea of whether a dog is right for your family. If you're still unsure many trainers offer pre-puppy consultations to give advice on particular areas of concern, help you select an appropriate breed etc. Far better to take some time and make the right decision than make the wrong one and regret it afterwards.
Happy Training x