A great many of the UKs’ dog lovers don’t actually own a dog of their own, because a whole host of factors need to come together for them before it would be genuinely viable for them to take on the responsibility of dog ownership.
Deciding that you aren’t quite where you need to be in your life to get a dog and realising that you will have to wait some time longer can be hard, particularly if you’ve been striving to position yourself to become a dog owner sooner rather than later.
However, it is far better to wait and ensure that everything is right than to rush into a decision you aren’t sure about or know is wrong just because you want a dog so much. Choosing a dog when everything you need isn’t in place does your dog a disservice, will result in additional stress for you, and may compromise your chances of taking care of your dog properly; or even mean that you have to rehome them further down the line.
Every single dog owner is different, and has different factors to consider when it comes to being able to determine if the time is right for them to get a dog; and so whilst there are any number of tick lists and must-haves that apply to everyone when it comes to making a responsible decision on ownership, lots of variables as well.
That said, there are a number of broad factors that, whilst different for everyone, have to be “right” for you before dog ownership becomes viable; and so whilst nobody can tell you what those factors might look like for you personally, we can at least provide an indicator of the factors to consider.
With this in mind, this article will tell you six things you need to get right before you get your first dog. Read on to learn more.
Right time, first of all. This means a lot of different things! Is now the right time in your life to get a dog? Are you fairly settled and stable, or do you harbour ambitions of backpacking around Europe, working abroad, or otherwise making some big changes?
What about unexpected changes, or things you might not strictly plan for but have in your broader outlook on life – like starting a family? Do you want to have a dog first, or do you think this would be a problem if you had children later on?
Time also means having enough of it to dedicate to your dog, and if you work a lot, commute, and don’t have a lot of free time in general, the time might not be right yet.
Where and how you live needs to be right for a dog. This means living in a home that is suitable for a dog and that you are allowed to have a dog in, and on a broader scale, living in an area that would be a good place to keep a dog, with plenty of safe walks and access to pet-related services.
If you live in a penthouse apartment in a major city, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t own a dog there for either logistical or resident-rule-related reasons, but it will leave you with more to think about than someone living in a suburban area near a dog park.
Can you afford to keep a dog? Dog ownership is expensive, and a huge number of dog lovers simply cannot afford to get a dog and keep it in the way that they know it should be kept, in terms of the financial outlay involved.
You need to consider not only if you can afford your dog today, but if you would still be able to afford to care for them in a few years too, which is something to bear in mind if your work is erratic or you’re planning a career change.
Who you live with – or might live with in the future – is a huge consideration when it comes to getting a dog. If you have a partner or family, they must be on board with things too and want to be involved in the dog’s life.
Even if you don’t have a partner now, how would it look if you met the man or woman of your dreams and they absolutely hated dogs? You might think this would be an instant dealbreaker on the relationship, but facing the reality of such a choice would never be easy.
What if you met the partner of your dreams and they were horribly allergic to your dog, so that by no fault of their own, them and your dog could not mix? What if you had a child that was allergic?
It’s not simple!
You need to have your head in the right place to have a dog and keep it properly, and this is all too commonly overlooked. Dogs can and do provide a world of benefits for their owners; they can greatly improve your mental health, make you feel less alone, provide companionship, love and loyalty, and much more.
But they are also living animals that come with responsibility, and they cannot fix things in you or your life that are broken; and they may even worsen some things or make parts of your life harder.
If your mindset isn’t right or you’re not feeling stable or are going through a phase of change (even positive change) or making rash decisions, it is not the right time to get a dog.
Finally, the dog itself has to be right too! Many people have an idea of getting “a dog” but have something of a blurry image in their head of what type of dog that might be until they reach the stage of getting one, assuming that the right dog will soon become self-evident.
This is true to a degree; and sometimes, the right dog for you might be the one you last expect, or you have a very clear picture of owning a head-turning show-winner of a dog like a top quality French bulldog puppy, but an impulse visit to a rehoming shelter sees you falling for the charms of a Heinz 57 ten year old Stig of the Dump type!
However, it is important to make the right choice of dog for you, and understand that whilst choosing the right dog will mean both you and the dog thrive, the wrong choice can make both of your lives a nightmare.
Ensure you’re clear on the criteria you want and also that which you could not handle, in terms of things like energy levels, size, and even a breed propensity to health and conformation issues (something very important for anyone aspiring to own one of those aforementioned French bulldogs) and other things that are on your must-have and cannot-have lists.
Finally, finding the right dog takes time; and can’t be rushed, even if all of the other things mentioned above are “right” right now!