Should I get a dog? 10 questions to ask yourself

Are you thinking of getting a dog? Ask yourself these questions first to make sure you are really ready for one.

Dog and owner on sofa

Being ready for a dog doesn’t just mean preparing your house for their arrival and buying everything you need (although that is very important when you do get a dog!).

Before all of that, you need to make sure you are actually ready to welcome a dog into your life. You may be dreaming about sofa snuggles and long walks, but there is much more to dog ownership. Not only does it come with a lot of responsibility, but it is also, of course, for life.

Taking your time to fully consider all aspects of dog ownership and being prepared will help set you up for a lifelong, successful relationship with your new dog.

10 questions to ask yourself before getting a dog

You may have asked yourself ‘Am I ready for a dog?’ Maybe you’ve thought should I get a puppy or adopt an older dog? But, those questions alone won’t ensure it’s definitely the time to welcome a furry friend into your family. To make sure you have thought about it and come to the right decision, it’s very important that you ask yourself these questions and know the answers first.

Question one: Do I have the time?

Your pooch can’t be left home alone for hours at a time. Not only do you not want them to be crossing their legs because they are desperate for the toilet, but they are social creatures that require company. So, can you be at home with them during the day? Are you able to organise a dog walker or day care for the days you can’t be there?

You must be able to ensure your dog isn't left for longer than they can cope with, both in terms of toileting and how comfortable they are on their own. It’s important to spend time getting them comfortable with being home alone. Then, actually leaving a dog alone must be built up slowly.

As well as having the time to be at home for your pup, you also need to be able to dedicate some time to training and games. Dogs need lots of mental stimulation and love to learn. Likewise, you need to have time to walk and exercise them every day too.

Question two: Am I happy to plan my time around them?

Alongside actually having the time to spend with your pooch, you need to be happy to plan the time you do have around them. You won’t be able to jet off on any last-minute holidays or plan spur-of-the-moment day trips without either taking them with you or arranging for them to be looked after.

Does the idea of a day out with your pup or a dog-friendly holiday sound perfect to you? If not, and you’re often out and about doing things your pup can’t join in with, then you need to consider whether you are willing to make changes to ensure that they do fit in with your lifestyle.

It’s important to consider your schedule day-to-day too – dogs generally love routine and will likely need you to be able to follow this as closely as possible from morning to night, every day.

Question three: Do I have the patience for a pooch?

So, if you’ve got the time for a pup – do you have the patience? Whether it’s a puppy or an adult dog that joins your family, it will take time for them to settle in and adjust to their new home.

While a young pup is learning for the first time, it may have been quite some time since an older rescue dog lived in a home. From house training to getting them used to spending time alone, dogs need someone who will give them the time and support required to learn these skills.

Patience and positivity are key to training your pooch (alongside using rewards!) They will get there but you need to be willing to go back a step if they need a little more help.

Question four: Am I able to meet all their needs?

Your dog has needs that have to be met every day. From getting up for them in the morning, to taking them on a walk come rain or shine. You must be able to provide somewhere suitable to live, with everything they need from a bed to toys. It’s also important to provide mental enrichment as well as physical exercise. You will have to learn to understand your dog, so you can give them everything they need.

You must be able to meet a dog’s five basic needs.

Those are:

  • their need for a suitable environment
  • their need for a suitable diet
  • their need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • any need they have to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • their need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

The first four months of your puppy’s life are particularly important – this is the socialisation period when they need you to introduce them to the world around them in a gradual and positive way. However, you must make sure your pup is happy for the duration of their life.

It’s also important to start training your pup early – you can sign them up to our online Dog School classes to give them the best possible start.

Question five: Can I commit long-term?

A dog is for life. So, you need to be sure that you can commit to them long-term. As far as you are aware, do they fit in with your future plans? Are you likely to have children? Move house? Change jobs? Want to travel or move abroad?

Of course, we can never plan for the unexpected. But, by doing your best to ensure that it’s highly likely you’ll be able to commit to dog ownership long-term, you will reduce the chances of having to rehome your dog in the future

Question six: Can I afford a dog?

Whether you buy or rescue your dog, this is the first cost of many. You’ll then have daily ongoing costs for life. This includes bedding, toys, treats, food, grooming, insurance – and other essentials. There are expected and potentially unexpected vet bills – which could creep up with your pup’s age. 

If your answer to question one concluded that yes, you would be happy to organise a dog walker or doggy day care when you are at work or away – remember, you’ve got to pay for that too.

So, not only do you need to be able to commit to your dog long-term, you need to be sure that you can afford to look after them for the duration of their lives too.

Question seven: Do I want a dog for the right reasons?

With all the above in mind, it’s very important to make sure you want a dog for the right reasons.

A dog should never be an impulse purchase, nor should they be a gift that may be discarded when the recipient gets bored. If you do want to give a dog lover a present they’ll love, why not - sponsor a dog on their behalf instead?

Dog ownership can bring us an enormous amount of joy, and even positively impact our wellbeing. It’s important, however, to equally consider what we can do on a daily basis to enrich the life of our dog. Dog ownership is most enjoyable when the relationship is mutually beneficial.

A dog will become a member of your family – and is why you should think carefully and not rush into anything.

Question eight: Would a different pet fit my circumstances better?

With that in mind, is a dog the right pet for you right now? From pooper scooping to cleaning fur off your furniture, are you ready for everything that comes with dog ownership? If not, perhaps there is another pet that would better fit your current circumstances and lifestyle.

It’s important to consider everyone that lives in your home and ensure that a pooch is the right fit for the whole family. It’s also worth thinking about any regular visitors that come to your house too.

If children live in your home, we recommend close, adult supervision at all times to ensure interactions between children and dogs remain safe and enjoyable for everyone. It’s important children understand how to kindly and safely build a bond with their four-legged friend, and that adults are prepared for all that comes with managing these important relationships. 

Question 9: Will current pets welcome a pooch into their home?

As well as making sure a dog is right for everyone in your family, you also need to ensure they will fit in with any other pets you may have. If you have a cat, for instance, do they get on with dogs? (Although it’s important to remember this doesn’t mean they will get on with all dogs.) How will they feel about a dog being in their home? It’s important to make sure that cats and dogs can live comfortably together.

Question 10: Should I foster first?  

Whether you answered yes to all of the above, or there are a few that you aren’t sure about – it’s worth considering fostering a dog first. This is particularly worthwhile doing if you have never had a dog of your own before. While you make sure that you can commit to everything that comes with dog ownership, you are also helping a rescue dog on their journey to finding their forever home. And, you never know – one of the dogs you foster may well be the one for you!

Now you have the answers to all your questions you’ll know if you are ready for a dog or not. If you are – wonderful. You can start looking into getting a puppy or dog responsibly. If you’re not, then don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you’ll never welcome a furry friend into your family but perhaps now isn’t the right time. Depending on your circumstances, why not look into volunteering or even sponsoring – both of which will enable you to still help a dog in need.

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