All too many puppy buyers go from “Hey I’d like a puppy” to actually having both a puppy and an empty bank balance within the space of a week – or even less.
Making the decision to get a puppy is one that should take weeks or months, not days. Making the decision of what type of puppy, and then which individual puppy to get if you make it that far, takes longer again.
Even when you think you’re ready, how can you be sure? Well, unless you can answer “yes” to all of the following ten questions, you’re not ready to bring home a puppy yet.
Puppy ownership and dog ownership is very time intensive in every respect.
You cannot leave a puppy alone for more than a couple of hours at a maximum, and for adult dogs, four hours is the limit of what is reasonable. So if you’re out at work for four to eight hours a day or longer, you will need to have a plan and support to care for your dog in terms of time.
Walking your dog and doing their shopping and caring for their physical needs is all time consuming too. Simply spending enough time with your dog isn’t something you can scrimp on either!
If you live in a tiny 10th floor studio flat in the middle of a city, you might still be able to have a dog. But what type of dog you can get, how easy it is to care for them, and even if you can have a dog at all, are all serious considerations.
If you rent your home, you might not even be allowed a dog so that decision is taken away from you.
If you’re out partying every weekend, go on lots of exotic holidays, work continually, or have lots of comings and goings, don’t enjoy walking, or don’t have a lot of free time, you may not be able to provide the right lifestyle for a dog.
Owning a dog is more expensive than most hobbies, and costs far more than most first-time owners realise. A minimum of around £80 a month should be in your budget for even a really small dog in perfect health from an undemanding breed; for larger dogs, those with complex health issues, or dogs that need lots of grooming or maintenance, you might be looking at several hundred pounds per month.
Having another living being reliant on you to literally keep them alive, and vitally, know what they need for this, how to give them quality of life, and how to be responsible for them, is a heavy weight.
This applies not just in terms of logistics, but emotionally too. If you’re a perpetual worrier or for any reason cannot provide the tangible things your dog needs to thrive, getting a dog is unwise.
All too many first-time dog owners (and repeat ones too) don’t have a plan to train their dog, or don’t even really think of training them at all. They either think it just sort of happens, or isn’t really necessary.
This is a huge mistake, and will make your life’s dog poorer and yours more difficult. It might also cause you to run into problems with others, or even end up in court due to your dog’s behaviour, or rather, your own.
Dogs need flea and worming treatments, vaccinations, health checks and dental care, and that is just when they’re healthy! You need to be able to provide all of this plus know the basics of how to keep a dog healthy, identify potential problems, and be able to provide (and fund) their healthcare.
Dogs need to spend time with other dogs, and not only will they have a poor quality of life and fail to thrive without this, but they are also apt to become a problem and even a danger around other dogs if you cannot enable it.
Do you have the time and opportunities to make sure your dog can meet and play with others?
All dogs need to be walked; at least two half-hour walks per day is the absolute minimum required of the least demanding dog in the world in good health.
However, most dogs need much more exercise than this, and putting your dog out in the garden for half an hour on their own is not exercise.
Do you know how much exercise (and of what type) the exact type of dog you’re considering needs, and can you provide it?
Dogs need to be fed dog food. Not human meals, not scraps, and not an endless supply of treats. You need to know what to feed a dog, what not to feed a dog, and how to pick the right diet for your dog’s age, health, life stage, and activity level.
This is a whole rabbit-hole of its own, and should take many hours of research, repeated several times over your dog’s lifetime as their needs change, to get right.
Finally, “a puppy” is not one generic thing. There are over 240 different recognised dog breeds and types around, each with their own unique traits, needs, pros and cons, and suitability for different owners.
That’s before you even get as far as picking out an individual litter and ultimately, pup.
You need to narrow down first of all the types of puppy that would be a fit for you, then breeds, and then key traits.