At some point in your life you may decide that you are going to get a canine companion but there are so many choices that you may become confused or, even worse, just get the first dog that you see. You must take a step back, pause for breath and really consider things before making the move. Firstly you need to assess your own circumstances. Do you live alone? Are there children or teenagers in the house? Do you own any other pets? Are you out of the house for most of the day? Do you work shifts? Is anyone at home most of the time? Does anyone in the family suffer from allergies? Do you have a friendly neighbour who can help out? Do you have a garden? Do you live in a house or a flat? Do you go on holiday a lot? Once you have thought about your circumstances and reached a conclusion there follows the difficult choice between dog and puppy. If it's going to be a dog how old would you like it to be? Have you thought about the possibility that an older dog may need expensive medication? In fact have you thought about exactly how much it's going to cost you with any dog? Maybe you have set your heart on a puppy - this brings a whole lot of extra problems. For example how will you find a puppy? Do you want a certain breed? Are you going to commit to finding a responsible breeder who is genuine and recommended? If so are you prepared to wait for the next litter? Right then, homework underway: you live alone in a flat with no garden and you are out at work for most of the day. You also have a hectic social life and are often away at weekends. Well firstly why on earth do you want a dog? You haven't any time for one really have you? Perhaps your weekends away could include a dog and you have a very good neighbour who will dog sit for you during the day. Maybe you are getting tired of your hectic social life and want to stay in most nights. OK then maybe you can have a dog but would it be fair for you to have a puppy? Puppies need a safe, secure environment and a regular routine. It may work out very well but you would be extremely lucky if that were the case. What may work out for you (with full commitment from your neighbour) is an older dog. One that has already been trained and is calm relaxed and sociable with both people and other pets (your neighbour may already have a dog, a cat or even a much loved budgie!). Right then, an older dog it is. Now you must turn your mind to the fact that you live in a flat with no garden. Can you commit to taking your older dog out first thing at morning and several more times during the day to an area where he can relieve himself? Add to this the two daily walks (or one very long one) that he will need. OK you have solved that problem - you can find the time plus you will employ a dog walker. Now, what about the fact that you live in a flat; obviously most large breeds are unsuitable (although there are a couple that can tolerate flat living), medium or small breeds seem to be the answer. Your final decision is a tiny dog like a Chihuahua - this should be perfect but have you researched the needs of the breed? Intelligent and nosy they love to investigate and must have a stimulating environment to live in. They are also the kind of dog that needs to be with their owner. If you can meet all the requirements of owning a Chihuahua then you can begin your search. The considerations for a family with small children, an adult at home for most of the day and a large house and garden are vastly different. In this instance everything would seem to be right if they decided to have a Chihuahua but in actual fact it wouldn't. Chihuahua's are so tiny that it's not really very practical to have one with small children around as they may step on it or even wear the poor thing out by playing with it constantly. There are many other small dog breeds that would better suit this environment.A retired, energetic couple who love walking would not be wise to choose a Chihuahua either as these tiny dogs are unable to walk miles and miles. This steady, established couple who want to spend all their time with their dog on long hikes could easily cope with a more energetic dog. Perhaps they could look at a Collie or another working breed; the kind of dog that needs lots of exercise would be ideal. This couple would also have to think carefully about whether to get a puppy or an older dog. If they were to get a puppy they would need to put their life on hold for the first few weeks or months as obviously a young dog is not physically able to walk miles and miles. So, as you can see from just a couple of examples, it is not just a case of making the decision to have a dog, you also have to answer many more questions and please remember the following: a dog can live for anywhere between seven and twenty years so you need to be prepared to put any major lifestyle changes, such as spending a couple of years travelling around the world, on hold until your dog has departed this life. Owning a dog is a great commitment and you should not consider becoming a dog owner until you are certain that you can last the course.