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Are you thinking of going from dog lover to dog owner? Are you stricken with puppy fever?
In 2018, it was estimated that 3.3 million dogs enter the nation's animal shelters each year, but only 1.6 million dogs are adopted. Unfortunately, that's less than half of the dogs in the shelter system. That means there's an abundance of deserving dogs in need of a forever home.
But before you run to the nearest animal shelter or humane society (#AdoptDontShop), it's best to reflect on whether you're truly ready to be a pup parent. This not only ensures that you're making the right decision for yourself, but the right decision for your potential dog. As dog lovers, we wouldn't want to jeopardize their well-being, right?
So read on for the most important factors to consider in deciding whether you're ready for a new dog!
Why Do You Want A New Dog?
Adopting a dog should not be a rash decision. Adopting a dog means bringing in a new member to your family. Unlike shopping for a new pair of shoes or a purse, a pup should not be an impulse buy you make because the dog looks cute.
Additionally, a dog shouldn't be a surprise gift to someone who is not truly prepared to become a dog parent. (That's what cake, pizza, and flowers are for!)
Before adopting, it's important to pause and ask yourself: Why do you want a dog? Do you want to give a deserving pup a home? Do you want a companion that could give you years of love, challenges, and laughs? Or, do you want someone you can dress up, showcase on social media, and tote around like a hotel heiress?
If your reasoning is (solely) the latter, you may want to rethink the decision. Dogs are not pretty props or fluffy accessories and cannot be treated as such. A dog is not a pair of shoes you can throw out when you stop thinking they're cute. They are living beings with their own individual needs. Their reason for living goes well beyond being adorable and jolly (though they're so good at it!).
Of course, that doesn't mean there's something wrong with dressing up your dog and creating an Instagram or Twitter account for them to show them off to the world! It just means you should also want to care for them, and be responsible for them, even when the going gets tough and the tough gets going.
How Committed Are You?
Though being a pup parent is incredibly rewarding, it is not always glamorous. Dogs need constant love, care, and attention. Behind the cute pictures on social media, devoted dog parents have to do dirty work for their pup.
Regular dog parent duties include - but are not limited to - ensuring your dog gets adequate exercise daily, facilitating potty breaks throughout the day, training, frequent cleaning, providing a safe and comfortable environment, daily feeding, grooming, and routine veterinary and medical care.
As you can see, responsible pup parents sacrifices to meet their dog's needs. This may even mean taking them on walks in the freezing rain, running home during lunch to give them a potty break, or cleaning their poop for the 239th time. So, it's important to ask yourself, am I patient enough to train a new dog? Do I have the time give this dog the life he deserves? Can I afford it?
Effort is not the only thing dogs need. Having a dog also means dedicating yourself to a prolonged time commitment. Dogs typically live well over a decade! Are you ready to care for and finance a dog for fifteen years? Though this sounds like never-ending a chore, most dog parents get great fulfillment in caring for someone they truly love. However, you must be committed to embark on this journey.
Many ill-prepared and ill-informed dog owners become overwhelmed with their new pup. Perhaps they did not realize the time and effort caring for a dog entails or they did not thoroughly vet whether the dog's demeanor or size would be compatible to their home and lifestyle. Frequently, this results in dogs being returned.
A 2013 study by the American Humane Association found that "one in ten pets adopted from a shelter were no longer in the home six months later." Generally, dogs are doting, emotional creatures who are eager to love and be loved by humans. Returning a pup who has already been relieved to escape the shelter system and formed an attachment to their new family can experience emotional consequences. And, unfortunately, these consequences can be fatal if the dog is returned to a kill shelter.
Clearly, being an attentive dog parent requires consistent care, patience, and commitment for the entirety of your new dog's life. So, it's important to consider whether a dog can fit in your lifestyle. That's right - there's more factors in choosing a dog than who's the most cute and fun! If you're getting a new dog, make sure you research what age, breed, demeanor, and size would be the most compatible for you and your lifestyle.
How Financially Ready Are You?
Caring for a dog requires love, commitment, and (yes, you guess it) money!
Being a pup parent demands financial investment from the moment you adopt them. Before bringing a dog home, you'll likely have to pay an adoption fee as well as buy a dog bed, water and food bowls, a leash, a collar, an ID tag, a dog house or crate, and food. If the shelter or humane society does not cover veterinary expenses, you may need to pay for an initially veterinary checkup and spaying/neutering.
Ongoing expenses for quality dog care include food, medication (e.g. heartworm prevention, flea/tick prevention), treats, dog grooming products or services, and annual veterinary care. Depending on your lifestyle or your dog's needs, there may be additional expenses such as boarding, doggy door, toys, dog walking, and emergency medical care.
Sources have estimated that annual expenses for dogs can range from $300 to $1200! These figures vary because the needs of each dog and owner greatly very. However, one thing is fur sure, being a pup parent costs a pretty penny!
So You Think You Can Parent A Pup?
By now, you probably understand that being a devoted dog parent requires great time, emotional, and financial investments. Actually, after reading this you may be asking yourself, "Wait, why am I signing up for this?" Keep in mind that having a furry furever friend is one of the most rewarding relationships life can offer. Yes, dogs do require an investment, but they will be the biggest Return on Investment you could ever ask for. However, this is only true if you're ready to be the parent a doting dog deserves.