Did you know that every year in the US, around 3.1 million dogs are left in the care of shelters? Though not all of these pups are given up by owners who can’t look after them, many of them will be.
Getting a dog is a huge commitment and one you need to be certain you’re ready for before you take the plunge! That’s exactly why we’ve put together these six signs that it’s time so that you can learn more about whether you’re waving a red or green flag for a new furry family member.
1. You Have the Time to Spare
Dogs aren’t pets you can leave home alone all day. They’re dependent, and they need a lot of care to stay happy and healthy. Realistically, have you got the time?
A medium-sized dog needs at least 40 to 80 minutes of walking each day, plus outside toilet trips if you haven’t got a garden. For large, athletic dogs, like German Shepherds, that number can easily increase to 2 hours or more! Come rain or shine, are you prepared to devote this much time to giving your pup the exercise they need.
It’s not just walking, either, but feeding, grooming, and playing that all take time. Before committing, look at whether you can fit your dog into your schedule.
2. You’ve Done Your Research
If you head to a rescue center or you’re already running your own dog walking or grooming business from home, you likely already know your stuff. This is a good sign that you’re ready to adopt a dog as you have the experience and know what type of commitment dogs can be.
Knowing which breeds are right for you, the different toys they need, and how to make your home safe for them is a great start. If you’ve taken the time to research these things and become familiar with the needs of your future dog, it’s a sign of care and understanding that’s essential in potential owners.
Remember, there’s no such this as being too prepared!
3. You’re Financially Prepared
The cost of owning a dog can be anywhere between $1,500 to $10,000. If you’ve already done the math and know you can afford it, hooray! If not, now’s the time to sit down and start budgeting.
Different factors affect how expensive it can be, including your lifestyle, the breed of dog you own, and the area you live in. Regardless, though, owning a dog is going to be an expense.
No one wants to make a payment at the vet and have it declined. Nor do you want to sacrifice your own food so that you can keep your dog healthy. Before bringing a pet home, always make sure you can afford it.
4. You’re Ready to Adapt
Every person thinking of getting a dog needs to have a serious chat with themselves about whether they’re willing to change their lives to suit their pet. A dog can be a wonderful addition to a home, but owning one is also going to restrict you.
If you have a furry pal with abandonment issues, for example, you may not be able to leave them at home alone. Even with less dependent dogs, you may not be able to go on the holidays you used to at the drop of a hat, and unplanned overnight stays at your friend's house are a no-go.
Are you ready to make your dog a priority in life? Can you adapt your lifestyle and schedule to suit their needs? If the answer is yes, then you’re well on your way to being ready.
5. Poop and Dirt Don’t Faze You
Sure, having your own fluffy best friend sounds great, but when you’re bending over in the park picking up poo, it might feel less glamorous than you imagined. The truth is that dogs can get pretty dirty - and sometimes a little gross!
They might roll in their excrement or the excrement of another dog, and you’re going to be the one having to clean that up. Your pup may walk into your home with dirty paws or drool on your carpet. If you can deal with all of that and never bat an eyelid, it’s a very good sign!
6. You’re Ready to Train Your Dog
If you’re rescuing an older dog, you may be able to skip the training process. However, that’s not certain. Some older dogs still need a bit of TLC to become housetrained, so if you do want to skip this, be sure to ask at the shelter before adopting.
Puppies, though, will need training regardless. You can either do this yourself - which means learning how to train a dog as well as implementing the practices - or with the help of a professional trainer. Either way, it’s going to take time and effort. Make sure you’re ready to commit at least a few hours a week to teaching your puppy how to be safe out in the world.
7. Everyone’s Agreed
A dog isn’t just a commitment for you, but for everyone in your household. If you live alone, this isn’t going to be a big deal, but if you live with housemates or family, it’s wise to get their approval first.
Sit down with the other people in your house and discuss the idea of getting a dog. If you have kids, it’s best to talk to the other adults in your home first so as to prevent any disappointment.
Discuss whether they’d be okay to share some responsibility for the pet, such as walking and feeding. If they don’t want to, are they still happy for you to get a dog as long as they don’t have to help?
Talking to others may be a cause for concern if you’re longing for a furry friend, but it’s always better to plan first than leave it until it’s too late!
If you’ve gone through all of these points and still feel confident, that probably means you’re ready to bring a dog into your life!
For those of you who have any doubt, it’s always worth waiting until you’re certain. No dog deserves an owner that isn’t fully committed, so always take the time to think before you know for sure.